Forest Festival evolves into real money-maker

Jerry Huffman
Jerry Huffman

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - By Holley Nees - email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - It started in 1938, stopped in '53, and started back up 26 years ago.

"I always think about the old Forest Festival when I was a kid, my grandparents lived across the street from it and they would sell parking and of course, we'd walk across the street and go to the fair and the Forest Festival there," Charles "Dubby" Perry said.

It's the biggest project the chamber puts on, the cash is distributed to non-profits like the Chamber, the Forestry Museum, and some goes to line up next year's festival.

A good year brings in about $80,000, but it hasn't always been that way.

"I think our net the first year was about $1,200," Chamber President Jerry Huffman said. "It didn't take us very long to distribute the net."

Huffman says this event may have started out small, but regardless of how much money it brings in, he says it's worth it every year.

"It's really fun to see those smiles on those kids faces," Huffman said.

For Perry, the draw is the Hushpuppy Championships he's entered more than 30 times but has never won.

"Trying to win, you know, trying to show the judges what a real hush puppy is like," Perry said.

Perry hasn't entered in a few years, but he won't miss the festival.

"It just brings back old memories," Perry said.

It's come a long way, tens of thousands come each year.

More than 20 percent come from outside the county.

The money stays here.

"Just to keep things operating we try to make some profit off of a lot of the activities that we do to pour back into the programs that we do that we don't net any money out of," Huffman said.

A tradition that keeps East Texans happy and local organizations afloat.

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