The Palestine Herald, Palestine, Texas

Local Scene

March 25, 2014

Kickin' things off: Dogwood festival begins with 3-week celebration

PALESTINE —

Light spring showers may have dampened the streets but not the spirits of those who attended the 76th Annual Dogwood Trails Festival in historic downtown Palestine Saturday, which featured a nostalgic 1950s road trip theme.

Despite the ominous skies, crowds still came out for a day that offered the gamut of traditional dogwood festival experiences – from the parade to the corn dogs to the classic car show and collections of East Texas artisans’ arts and crafts.

Marc Mitchell, executive director of the Palestine Area Chamber of Commerce, said the festival was a great way to kick off the three-week Dogwood Trails Celebration.

“We had wonderful arts and crafts and Kids Zone vendors, and great entertainment performing at the Festival and Family Stages,” Mitchell said. “People were lined up along the streets to watch the parade, and the Doo Wop cruise at the courthouse in the evening was a big hit.”

Following the parade, the majority of spectators ventured downtown, where streets were abuzz with balloons, freckled children, the smoke from turkey legs sizzling on a grill, and artisans selling their craft, to name a few.

One of those artisans, Palestine resident Jerry Neill, said he has been bringing his handiwork to the local festival for some seven or eight years since he retired.

“I have a little shop out in the backyard,” Neill said. “I don’t have a store or anything. I just do craft shows and that’s it.”

Neill described his hobby more as a labor of love than of toil. He said the work does require a good bit of time, but it’s worth it to him, as a personal “ministry.”

“People say, ‘Do you have a website?’ and I say, ‘No and I don’t want one.’ I just try to get $10 an hour out of my time, just enough to buy my material and make it worth my while. And it’s really kind of a ministry, because most everything is religious in nature.”

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