By CRISTIN REECE
Deadlines to enter the annual Hot Pepper Festival’s barbecue cook-off and parade are just around the corner — and event officials said helping hands are also needed to make this year’s event the best ever.
The Palestine Hot Pepper Festival is Saturday, Oct. 26, in downtown Palestine. Palestine Events Coordinator Heather Hrebec said there’s a cash prize for placing first in the parade float contest.
“Our parade theme is ‘the Hot Pepper Express,’ this year,” Hrebec said. “And the deadline to get your float entered into the parade is Monday, Oct. 21.”
This year’s parade is going to be bigger than ever, with the Trinity Valley Community College marching band and Cardettes, three Shriners groups and, of course, event mascot Oli Pena.
“It’s going to be bigger than it’s ever been,” Hrebec said.
City officials said a recent structure fire in the downtown area won’t affect the parade route or other festival events.
Top barbecue and chili chefs also need to register to compete. Space in the competitions are limited so participants are urged to get their spots finalized early. Call Glenn Connor, 903-284-8118, to sign up for either cooking contest.
Hrebec said anyone interested in volunteering to help work at the festival can volunteer by filling out a volunteer form found at the city’s website, www.cityofpalestinetx.com; or call Volunteer Coordinator Carla Cubstead at 903-948-4575, or Hrebec at 903-723-2026,
“We need volunteers to help, desperately,” Hrebec said. “Volunteers need to fill out the form to make sure they get their official shirts.”
Volunteers are needed to help with vendor set-up and selling concessions, manning the information booth, directing traffic and more. This year’s Hot Pepper Festival also features a beer garden, the Little Peppers’ kid zone, a Longhorn exhibit, a farmers’ market, arts and crafts, the Macho Pepper Eating Contest, an antique tractor show, Shawdowhawk Blades & Swords and the BARC Hot Puppy Fest.
Hot Pepper Fest sponsors include Ben E. Keith Beverages, the City of Palestine, Coleman Rentals, G&G Distributing, Phillips Distributing, Pine Country 93.5, Champion Dodge, KYYK FM, Anderson County Roughnecks, Bodi Services, El Toro restaurant, Henderson Electric, Hometown Pharmacy, Pumping Services Inc., Stone Ridge Landscape Co., Wal-Mart Supercenter, Air Plus, Alan Herrington, Bacon Automotive, Bob Herrington, Davis Appliance & Furniture, East Texas Pest Control, Island Tans, Modern Brush Designs, Oxbow Bakery, OGR Energy Corp, PAACO, Prosperity Bank, Red Hot Rentals, Venison and WanaRealtor.com