Howe residents and visitors alike filled the city’s downtown streets Saturday to celebrate the city’s Founders Day Festival.


The event began in the afternoon and featured live music, fair-style foods, games, arts and crafts, and nearly 80 different businesses and organizations. Other activities included an awards ceremony, silent auction and baseball games.


Howe Area Chamber of Commerce President Robert Cannaday said he and fellow organizers hoped to see a roughly 20 percent increase in attendance this year after putting extra emphasis on event advertising and updates.


“Last year we had about 500 people show up,” Cannaday said. “This year we’re hoping for a few more — right about 600, hopefully — since we tried so hard to get the word out.”


Founders Day got its start roughly 30 years amid the celebration of the Texas sesquicentennial and began primarily as a parade and various competitions. Cannaday said the Founders Day Festival was revamped in 2014 after the city’s first chamber of commerce dissolved and the current chamber took over.


With 79 vendor passes sold his year, Cannaday said the festival had reached record participation and the chamber was fulfilling its mission to support area businesses.


“This year, it was only $10 for a vendor spot,” Cannaday said. “That’s super cheap compared to a lot of the other areas around here and it gives businesses the opportunity to get their name out.”


Cannaday said organizers have also been pleased to see more people from out of the area taking part in the festival.


“Before last year, we always thought that the crowd was primarily local,” Cannaday said. “But as we really got started talking to people and tried to get a feel for who all was there, we found that we had lots of people coming in from Gainesville, Denton, Greenville, Frisco and even Oklahoma. We originally intended for this to be a local, community event, but we’ve attracted a lot of vendors and guests from outside the area and that’s been nice to see.”


With the city’s streets bustling and the weather beautiful, Cannaday said he felt this year’s festival was largely a success and organizers would capitalize on that momentum.


“If you missed this year’s event, try and make it out to the next one,” Cannaday said. “We’re going to try and make it twice as good.”


Drew Smith is a reporter for the Herald Democrat. Contact him at asmith@heralddemocrat.com or on Twitter @DrewSmithHD.