By CHERIL VERNON
A large crowd in the thousands came out for the first weekend of the Dogwood Trails Celebration — as festivities for the three-weekend event kicked off with the Dogwood Trails Parade and downtown festival on Saturday.
“We had a lot of positive feedback and it was a beautiful day. Everybody seemed to enjoy themselves,” Palestine Area Chamber of Commerce Past Board President Sloan Shuffler said Monday.
Rotary International won first place and $300 for the best float in the Dogwood Trails Parade themed “Diamonds & Dogwoods: A Dynamic Duo.”
Girl Scout Troop No. 1417 came in second. Palestine Regional Medical Center won the third-place prize for the floats and first place in the business category. Also in the business category, Sew What won second place and Silver Lady won third.
In the organization category, Palestine FFA and BARC, The Humane Society came in first, with the Palestine Area Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors winning second and Tejas Riders coming in third.
For individuals, Terry George won first place and Armando Castillo won second place in the parade.
Winners may pick up their prizes at the chamber office, located at 401 W. Main St., this week during normal business hours.
“Who could deny that we had the most beautiful weather for the opening day of Dogwood Trails Festival? I loved watching families and friends looking so relaxed and happy as they walked the downtown streets,” Julia Dorman Stone wrote on the Palestine Herald-Press Facebook page about the festival.
Palestine Main Street Manager Laura Westgate said the Dogwood Trails event brought people from all over the United States to the area.
“I talked to one family from Oregon. We were really pleased by the good planning of the chamber. A number of families mentioned how much they enjoyed all the arts and crafts booths and our fine art Window Art pop-up galleries,” Westgate said. “Main Street is looking forward to the second weekend and the Dulcimer Festival at the Museum for East Texas Culture.”
A reforestation planting was held at Davey Dogwood Park in conjunction with the festival to repopulate the dogwoods. The project was a partnership between Anderson County Precinct 4 Commissioner Joey Hill and the Palestine Economic Development Corp.
“The planting event at Davey Dogwood Park was a great addition to this year’s trails activities. We had great crowds all afternoon, and a large number of trees planted,” Palestine Economic Development Corp. Director Wendy Ellis said. “We visited with people from Oklahoma, Houston, DFW area and others that were really enjoying their time in town. We greatly appreciate the county’s partnership in this activity and we look forward to continuing it in the years to come.”
The Dogwood Trails Celebration will continue for the next two weekends. A variety of events are planned for this weekend ranging from the 12th annual Dulcimer & Old Time Music Festival, bull riding and a kid rodeo, live entertainment at the Dogwood Jamboree, the Palestine Community Theatre’s production of “Ghost: The Musical” and a Beat the Heat Fest.
During the final weekend of the Dogwood Trails Celebration, the Texas State Railroad will hold two special rides — the Easter Egg Express and the Piney Woods Steam Excursion.
Other events include the Dogwood Trails Gospel Music Festival at North Jackson Baptist Church and an Easter Egg hunt featuring more than 1,000 eggs and prizes at Texas Vineyard & Smokhaus.