NACOGDOCHES COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - One East Texas summer tradition is taking place this weekend -- the Texas Blueberry Festival, which is celebrating it's 23rd year this year in Nacogdoches County.
Nearly 20,000 visitors travel from all over Texas each year to participate in the Texas Blueberry Festival, to pick and eat blueberries and take part in contests.
And organizers told us recently they think it's such a popular festival for a couple of reasons.
"I've traveled around to several different festivals in and around the East Texas area, and I think one of the things about the Texas Blueberry Festival that makes it so different and so wonderful is, number one, the blueberries. They are delicious," said Texas Blueberry Festival chairwoman Michelle Smith. "But second to that is the setting of the Texas Blueberry Festival. It's just beautiful."
Smith says that holding the festival downtown in Texas's oldest city has helped keep it going strong for all these years now.
"Nacogdoches is the eighth-largest ag producing county in the state. That being said, we are also the capital of Texas blueberry production here. And the blueberries this year are very ripe and ready to go. We've already had at least one harvest so far," said Smith.
Visitors from all over the state can enjoy blueberry eating contests and a blueberry pancake breakfast, as well as shopping at more than 100 vendor booths that are set up in downtown Nacogdoches.
"Last year, we had approximately 19,000 visitors to the Texas Blueberry Festival. We also conduct a small survey in order to capture where people are coming from to the Texas Blueberry Festival, and I believe we've identified that about 40 percent or more of the festival-goers come from more than 100 miles away to visit the festival," Smith said.
It's a festival that continues to have a positive effect on Nacodogches County's economy, even during the recession.
"It means a great deal to the county of Nacogdoches, simply because we bring people in from a 250-mile radius not only to visit the county festival, but also to stay in hotels and motels, to bring their wares in for us to see and to buy from, and it's also just a great exposure to our little town, for people to come in and see what we have here," said Teresa Darby, Logistics Chairwoman of the Texas Blueberry Festival.
The festival lasts from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, and activities include a blueberry pancake breakfast, a kid's play area, a craft corner, a water area and bounce park, and a petting zoo.
And new this year, there will be a cupcake-decorating contest to benefit the Court-Appointed Special Advocates, or CASA, organization. Also, the first "Little Miss Blueberry" will be crowned this weekend in the festival's first pageant.
To see a festival map and a full list of events, visit the Nacogdoches County Chamber of Commerce's website.