Thousands of Texoma residents flocked to the streets of Whitesboro Saturday looking for peanuts. The 52nd annual Peanut Festival in Whitesboro not only included a parade with Whitesboro’s peanut mascot, but there were several music stages, car displays and more than 200 vendors downtown.
Festival Chairman Dee Lee and Whitesboro Chamber of Commerce board member David Blaylock believe that there were more than 15,000 people in attendance Saturday.
“Every year is the same but different,” Blaylock said. “We have different entertainment on the main stage every year. We try to incorporate all of the area performers including gymnasts, karate and fighting arts, and others into the main stage performers because parents like to see their children performing.”
This year, Renegade was the band performing on the main stage.
“Over the years, we have expanded so much that we have had to move things off into areas past downtown,” Blaylock said. “We have food alley. We have jumping balloons and pet adoption. We also have entertainment on the stage near food alley.”
So that festival attendees could stay for all portions of the festival and not worry about parking, transportation was provided to and from downtown at Whitesboro High School.
“Our parade started at 10 a.m. and then instead of a car show, we had a car display,” Lee said. “That is different from anything we have had here before. We gave them plaques and they were not judged as normal. They get to just show off their cars.”
There was also a tractor show at this year’s festival Saturday.
“We are growing and we just keep getting bigger and bigger,” Lee said. “The vendors are coming out. The booths get bigger. We have a lot of crafts here. We also have a lot of gospel singers here. We have several people from Branson, Missouri here. Rosie O’Toole was here. Donna Morgan just cut some records and she sang on the stage as well. She has had several records hit the pop charts.”
Lee has been festival chairman for 14 years and said that as the Peanut Festival grows, so do the fun times surrounding the event.
“A few years ago, the peanut costume that we have someone wear during the parade got stolen,” she said. “We had to get the police involved to help find our peanut. That was a calamity type thing.”
Last year, Lee said the highlight of the festival was when the Friday night car show cruise got lost.
“They ended up near the football field,” she said. “It was the best thing ever. People were there for the football game and they stood up and watched the cars and cheered for the Peanut Festival. It was by accident that we did it, but it was really, really helpful. We wanted to do that again this year, but our football game Friday was an away game.”
This year, Samantha Groce said that the highlight of the event for her family was the carnival.
“We are from Gainesville,” she said. “We came to this festival because we have family in this area and this is something that we do every year. My children like to ride the rides and I really like that it feels like a small town festival even though there is a lot going on.”
Putting on the festival, Lee said, takes many people. She explained it is about the city celebrating all it has to offer.
“I just moved to Whitesboro,” Martin Wise said. “I have never been here, but I saw an advertisement for the festival so I came out. I have seen a lot of vendors that I have not seen around town so I now know of some places that I need to try. I would definitely invite other people to come if they have not been before.”
Whitesboro Chamber of Commerce Board President Deana Stewart said the Peanut Festival is also one of the Whitesboro Chamber’s main fundraisers.
“This is still the Peanut Festival even though peanuts are not really farmed here anymore,” she said. “It is still our heritage so we still stick to it. People still like celebrating roots. It is fun to get out and to meet everybody. Plus, once you know the name of this festival, you do not forget it.”
Stewart said that people like to come to Whitesboro for this festival because of the vendors, the music and the relaxed atmosphere.
“It just shows how friendly Whitesboro is and this festival is growing because Whitesboro is growing,” she said.
Blaylock said he is proud to be a part of Whitesboro because the city is a good example of the culture of Texoma.
“Whitesboro is just a nice little town,” he said. “It is a great family place. It is growing just like the rest of North Texas. People like what they find here. We are just a super cool little town. How many towns this small have a festival this big?”