Queen City Of The Sand Flats
The Grapeland ' Possum Walk was a big success despite threatening weather at the beginning of the day. More than five thousand people poured in on the morning trains from points along the International & Great Northern and from the surrounding country.
And Their Were Fair Times
Grapeland Succeeds with Possum Walk
ADMIRING CROWDS SEE 200 PARTS OF TODAY'S BARBECUE PARADE THROUGH STREETS
The Grapeland ' Possum Walk was a big success despite threatening weather at the beginning of the day. More than five thousand people poured in on the morning trains from points along the International & Great Northern and from the surrounding country. At 12 o'clock a luncheon was served at the Smallwood hotel for distinguished visitors and at 1:30 the possum walk took place. Although some of the possums wanted to sulk, more than two hundred marches through the principle streets to the strains of popular band airs.
A long lane was fenced in by poultry wire the length of the street and urged by the 'possum hunters of the Possum Club the possums struck a lively gait which, once started, was hard to stop.
Immediately after the’ possum walk a parade was formed of school children, decorated floats, automobiles, and buggies, and four companies of uniformed Woodmen of the World. The parade was headed by the Palestine Labor Band and was a mile in length. The parade ended at the new school building, where several good addresses were made.
Wednesday forenoon the Board of Trades received a telegram from Cullen Thomas stating that it was impossible for him to be in Grapeland on this date. In his stead Jeff Strickland of Palestine delivered an able speech to the thousands that waited to hear him.
The event of the day passed with only one mishap, and that was when the big mules drawing George E. Darsey's float became frightened and tried to run away. The float was damaged greatly but no harm was done to anyone, as the mules ran under some trees at the school house.
Moving pictures were taken of the 'possum walk and a large number of photographs were made for the newspapers.
The city was flooded tonight with visitors who were entertained by the play singers in the auditorium.
Despite the fact that large crowds will leave tonight, thousands are expected tomorrow to attend the big’ possum barbecue and Masonic corner stone laying for which occasion an interesting program has been planned. A larger crowd is expected tomorrow than today.
Possum Walk Inspires Poem
Saturday night at the Cozy Theatre at Grapeland, Texas, Barker Tunstall, his two daughters, Erin and Vicory, and Mrs. Willie Merriwether and Yancy Merriwether, of Crockett, Texas, entertained with one of the splendid musical programs, and as usual, delighted the large audience, with numbers they rendered. Mr. Tunstall is a musician of note, and people are always delighted to hear him. In one number he played the part of a blackface comedian, and got off the following original on the 'Possum Walk'.
'Thank the Lord for all He sends us, that's the best and wisest plan, Makes me laugh to think of Possums trotting' in this Grapeland sand, Poor old' Possum, he was ignorant, didn't seem to understand Why he was a-been' punished, trotting' in that Grapeland sand. But you bet they had to do it, and I'll tell you it was grand, Just come down the road a grinning'; trottin'through that Grapeland sand. Next then came them sweet potatoes, they raise them to beat the band, you can't beat them on potatoes, raised up there in Grapeland sand. Let's be thankful we are living, let our troubles be forgotten, When you're blue and discontented, think of Grapeland's possums trotting'.
Grapeland Peanut Festival
In 1945, annual community celebrations were not new in Grapeland. No, there had been 'Possum Walks’, Turkey Trots' and also, the North Houston County Fair. For many years, the fair was held with exhibits displayed by civic organizations, rural communities; there were parades, bands and entertainment galore. It boasted as being one of the largest ever held by a community of this size.
But in 1945, a change of pace was in order. People had grown weary of the fair and interest in it had waned.
Peanuts had taken over as the biggest crop in the area. The soil and climate conditions around Grapeland were ideal for growing peanuts.
With this as a background, a Festival to celebrate the end of the peanut harvest loomed out as a most appropriate idea. With the Grapeland chamber of commerce as its sponsor, plans were begun on what has proven to be the most lasting celebration of all-- the Peanut Festival.
On Thursday, September 27, 1945, the first annual 'Goober Carnival' as it was then called, was presented to the public. The festivities opened Thursday evening with a banquet of peanut products, served in the recreation hall, to some 400 persons. Chamber of Commerce president, Marvin Watson, presided. The principle speaker was Victor Schoffelmager, who was agricultural and science editor of the Dallas News. Entertainment by the Stamps Quartette of Dallas was followed by the presentation of princesses of various communities. A secret ballot by the audience revealed their choice for the first 'Goober Carnival Queen' as Miss Frankie Lois Richardson of Percilia. Frankie Lois lives in Grapeland and was married to the late R. C. Pennington. They have a son and a daughter.
The Queen's coronation that year was to be held on Main Street but a drenching rain Friday night forced its moving to the recreation hall.
The grand pageant surrounding the queen's coronation had young Grapeland citizens in costumes which depicted various crops familiar to this area. (The ladies have, in all probability, changed their names, but they are listed as they were then.)The crops were: Bobby Herod, cotton; Patsy Rials, peaches; Barbara Jones, plums; Nelda Owens, tomatoes; Henry Lee Spence, peas; Betty Carrothers, sugar cane; Willis Gordon, corn; James Hugh Long, grain sorghum; Nancy Thomas, lumber; Charles Lively, watermelons; Lorena Darsey, turkeys; Jerry Brown and Jerry Caskey, cattle; Polly Ann Kennedy, sunflower; Artis Skidmore, berries; Nadine Cheatham, grasses and James Cunningham, truck crops.
Sam Hill,’ King Peanut' received the queen as she ascended to her throne.
In conjunction with the Goober Carnival, a fiddler's Contest was held Friday afternoon with old fiddlers, fiddle bands and quartettes competing.
The first festival was acclaimed a great success, but it is ironic to note that the week following it, thousands of dollars were lost on the peanut crop due to drenching rains which hit the area.
Spirits of the Grapeland citizens were not dampened though and the 'Goober Carnival' continued without change for six straight years. In 1951, it received a face-lifting.
The event was renamed and became the annual 'Peanut Festival'.
Sponsorship of the festival also changed in 1951. The Chamber of Commerce relinquished the task to the Grapeland VFW to enable them to raise funds for the building of a VFW hall. Years later, with the building accomplished, the sponsorship was given to the Grapeland Community Council and the Council is the current sponsor.
The Peanut Festivals of the past bring into mind rodeo events, baby shows, donkey polo games, square dances and gala programs featuring 'show biz' personalities.
Changes and improvements have been made in the annual event but autumn of each year finds the thoughts of Grapeland citizens turning toward plans for the 'Peanut Festival' each time with renewed ideas and enthusiasm. And so it shall continue because the 'Peanut Festival' has become a part of the city itself and a time of homecoming for all of our 'kith and kin'.
Each festival had a queen all its own: (Names are listed as they were at their time of reign.)
Frankie Lois Richardson, 1945; Margaret Skidmore, 1946; Dorothy Ann Smith, 1947; Marjorie Manville, 1948; Betty Herod, 1949; Virginia Spann, 1950; Mildred Wilkins, 1951; Pat Ramey, 1952; Ruth Smith, 1953; Doris Kyle, 1954; Elaine Brimberry, 1955; Linda Faye Jones, 1956; Sandra Walton, 1957; Paulette Kitcher, 1958; Carmen Dailey, 1959; Martha Jones, 1960; Zoe Walton, 1961; (no 1962 festival); Pat Caveness, 1963; Lynn Salmon, 1964; Kay Dailey, 1965; Lynn Murray, 1966; Annette Warner, 1967; Vicki Henderson, 1968; Helen Buntyn, 1969; Joni Turner, 1970; Dianne Henderson, 1971; Martha Huff, 1972;Charm Pennington, 1973; Connie Salmon, 1974; Thala Murray, 1975; Anita Salmon, 1976; Tammye Jenkins, 1977; Marsha Skidmore, 1978; Brenda Stuart, 1979; Suzanne Owens, 1980; Elaine Wake, 1981; Jill Stephens, 1982; Patricia Fillippa, 1983; Tami Rice, 1984; Sandy Shaver, 1985; Stacy Vaden, 1986; Tracey Plum, 1987, Laura Childress, 1988, Sonja Frisby, 1989, Lisa Platt, 1990, Cessily Walker, 1991, Kristi Arceneaux, 1992, Adrianne Rhone, 1993, Penny Lockey, 1994, Jennifer Goolsby, 1995, Gretchen Huff, 1996, Holly Stuckey, 1997, Amanda Caskey, 1998, Lisa Payne, 1999, Jennifer Bradley, 2000, Jennifer Fehrle, 2001, Krystal Shipman, 2002, Rebecca Bradley, 2003, Amber Brimberry, 2004, Molly Bennett, 2005, Julie Goolsby, 2006, Meredith Dotson, 2007, Rashel Dameron, 2008, Kelsie Weisinger, 2009, Alex Stephenson, 2010, ???, 2011 (Find out on October 8th 2011)
Grapeland Band Stand
Community Park Bandstand, Grapeland, Texas: After years of hearing her mother, Mrs. Troy (Mollie) Jones wishing for bandstand in Grapeland for the entire town to enjoy, in January of 1985 Mrs. Ben (Martha) Childress was elected President of the Grapeland Community Council. Upon reviewing a list of projects recommended for the council to undertake her choice was made easy when she found a local interest for a bandstand. She had been appointed Chairman of a research committee for a bandstand in 1984 by former Council President, Weldon Kerby. The committee also consisted of local businessmen and musicians, W. A. Brown, Floyd Salmon, and H. G. (Cotton) Jeffus.
The ball began to roll. Much planning of design was underway, how to finance the project considered, bids were taken, which exceeded the budget. We then went back to the drawing board and changed from a wooden structure to that of metal and concrete, which we can proudly say stands in our Community Park today.
The bandstand was designed by local Engineer, James Ryan (Jim) Darsey and built by local owner of Byrd Construction, Tommy Byrd at a cost to the Community Council of $17,050.00. Those Grapeland Community Council members working on the project in 1985 and 1986 were Jim Darsey, Ann Darsey, Betty Bassett, Stanley Pennington, Bonnie Schultz Keen, Roger Dickey, D. J. Fillipa, Necia Huff, Bob Jones, Gary Raines, Linda Skidmore, Quention Shaver, Gwen Weisinger, Elaine Walling, Helen Smith and Martha Childress. It was an undertaking that could never have been completed without the efforts of the entire community. It was financed by donations from near and far as well as with the proceeds earned by the council by the s sponsoring of the local annual Peanut Festival. It was completed on April 18, 1986. The first use of the bandstand was on April 19, 1986. It consisted of live bands and singing headed up by W. A. Brown and Cotton Jeffus at the Houston County Sesquicentennial Celebration sponsored by the Grapeland Riding Club, Curtis Crowson Chairman.