The brick streets of Nacogdoches set the scene for the Texas Blueberry Festival. Most guests have one common craving. " I love blueberries," said one little girl attending with her family.
Nacogdoches County's commercial grower, Mill Creek Farms, arrived with over 20,000 pounds of blueberries picked overnight. As boxes sell they're kept cold in a refrigerated truck until patrons are ready to head back home.
Nacogdoches County Chamber of Commerce surveys indicate more than 19,000 people attend the blueberry festival each year. And more than half of them come from more than 100 miles away.
Downtown shop owner, Jan Tracy kept track of the out of towners. "San Antonio, Beaumont, Mesquite, Dallas, Louisiana, Oklahoma. Just a few of the ones I spoke with yesterday," said Tracy.
All these people could buy blueberries from their local grocer, but they'ld miss the blueberry pie eating contest. Children went face first into a plate of whip cream and blueberries as parents cheered them on.
The blueberry festival is a good diversion from serious things in life. " I have cancer and I did read on the Internet where that berries are good for my white cells and platelets," shared Jauthine Kirkley. "Also I just wanted to come, so here I am."
Don't think you have to just use blueberries for jam and blueberry ice cream. A former policeman from Palestine makes blueberry wine. "This is about 890 pounds of blueberries that I use in the wine called 'Blue Moon'," said David Sherrod as he handed out samples.
A chef created fancy blueberry appetizers. "And blueberries is one of those ingredients, I think, you can use in just about anything," said Fredonia Hotel chef, James Harp.
The blueberry has one more benefit. The Texas Blueberry Festival generates up to a million dollars each year for the Nacogdoches economy.
Pick your own blueberry farms will be open through the summer. Mill Creek Berries can be found in major grocery stores, primarily in the Houston and East Texas area.