Nacogdoches store owners participate in Wassail Fest

Nacogodoches merchants showcased their homemade brewing skills this morning for the annual Wassail Festival.

"We put on a big spread. We really get into the competition. We add all kinds of stuff to our Wassail. We never make it the same way twice," said Gerry Larabee, the store owner of Heart of Texas.

Wassail Fest is a holiday tradition for the oldest town in Texas. Each year, store owners battle against each other for the best Wassail recipe. Wassail is a hot apple cider filled with spices and sometimes a dash of alcohol.

"There are 13 to 14 stores downtown that are participating in it. It is a contest. We have a People's Choice Award and we also have judges that come around to judge just on the taste and presentaion," Larabee said. "The People's Choice is exactly what it says. The voting public gets to see who they think is best."

Lerin Blackmon, a Wassail Fest volunteer, says most of the time visitors don't even know what Wassail is until they come to taste it.

"We're telling them what it is and most of the people seem to enjoy the Wassail that they're tasting. There's lots of variety around downtown," said Blackmon.

Wassail Fest is apart of the Nine Flags Christmas Festival, which is a two-week holiday festival that celebrates Texas history. Larabee says the festival, plus the added Wassail contest, helps people reconnect with their roots.

"People are in town for Thanksgiving. Some people that used to live here and they come back and visit with us and we've been in business a long time. So, it's just a really good way for us to reconnect with the public."

Larabee won the award last year, and hopes she wins again this year.

"Well, we would like to but we're not stingy. We'll pass it along if we need to. Like I's just a friendly competition," Larabee said.

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