Thousands of people packed into downtown Whitesboro Saturday to partake in the 53rd annual Peanut Festival.

Organizers said Saturday’s pleasant weather was a nice addition to this year’s festivities, making it cool enough for all to enjoy. Whitesboro Chamber President Dee Lee said the festival has grown larger every year since she has been in charge, going back 15 years.

“I have been on the streets since 5 a.m. this morning,” Lee said. “One of the highlights, besides the carnival, is the parade. Every year the whole entire town — even the cities on either side of us — look forward to the weekend of the Peanut Festival. It’s our biggest event for the entire year. I believe people would absolutely die if we didn’t have it.”

The parade featured floats from several organizations around the town, including many clubs from the local high schools. One feature of the parade was farmers riding on their tractors. Lee said this year it was important to recognize the peanut farmers who were the original idea for the festival.

“We made sure there were lots of peanuts this year, plenty of our vendors carry peanuts,” Lee said. “We paid special attention to our peanut farmers from our past. Some of them rode in the parade. We even had a tractor show with some of the actual tractors that used to farm peanuts. There was one local farmer who used to grow peanuts. When this started it was all about the peanuts — today it’s about the community.

Those who were looking to buy peanuts needed to look no further than the Keep Whitesboro Beautiful booth on Main Street. The group, which helped secure funding for the recent renovations along the downtown median specifically for the Peanut Festival, was in full force selling fresh, roasted peanuts to passersby.

A grant issued to the non-profit organization recently contributed to widening the median along Main Street as well as putting in an improved path which followed the length of the median. New trees and other features were installed to make the strip more inviting to attendees of the annual event.

Bud Maness was one of the newcomers to the event this year. He has lived in Denison his whole life, but recently moved to an assisted living facility in Whitesboro. While this was his first year attending the festival, he said he was impressed with the number of people at the event.

“We came out to see all the good things plus all the people,” Manes said. “The highlight has been seeing all the people. The kids like the rides, we enjoy the snacks. The sun is out for the first time in a while, so that’s great too.”

Levi McDowell, assistant fire chief and fire marshal for the city of Whitesboro, said it was a good day for the community to come together.

“The sun’s coming out, people are starting to get the word out.” McDowell said. “It looks like it’s been a little lighter than normal as far as flow of people is concerned. It’s an old tradition from when the town was big into peanut production. It’s a good time for the community to come together and celebrate the history of Whitesboro, get more involved with the community.”

Lee also spoke fondly of the weather making it more enjoyable for those in attendance this year.

“It’s been very nice,” she said. “The weather is beautiful — it was damp this morning, but the sun came out now there is a massive amount of people, the food vendors said they were doing almost too good.”

Lee also talked about the entertainment, noting the highlight was Greg Parker, an Elvis impersonator who was performing on the main stage. She also mentioned gospel singer Donna Morgan as a big draw.

“She opened the festival with the national anthem,” Lee said of Morgan. “We have wonderful things on the stage from art in motion to the cheer kids doing tumbling. We also have lots of raffles taking place. We have a lot of good stuff on the main stage this year.”

The grand marshal of this year’s parade was Whitesboro Mayor W.D. Welch.