NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - There's a fun side and a serious side of the Texas Blueberry Festival in Nacogdoches. The big event is Saturday, but related fun activities are offered before and afterward.
That planning encourages people to make it a weekend, rather than just a morning activity. It's working.
A dancing blueberry and a "Keep on the Sunny Side" sing-a-long set the stage for the 29th Texas Blueberry Festival. When you go, you won't be alone.
"The streets will be absolutely packed this year," said Wayne Mitchell, the president and CEO of the Nacogdoches Chamber of Commerce.
The goal is to encourage as many of the 21,000 expected visitors to come early and stay late. Hotels are full in advance of the Friday events, which include the free bluegrass concert in the park.
"Last year we had somewhere in the neighborhood of 4,000 at the concert, and we're expecting an even larger crowd this year," said Scott Waller, a volunteer planner for the concert.
Another early draw brings guests wrapped up in the blueberry festival of quilts.
"The last two quilt shows we've had over 500 paid entries, and that brings people to town," said Pauline Patterson. "Quilters travel."
On Saturday, a record number of 275 vendors, plus those on a waiting list, will be ready to make
"When you put in 66 more booths that takes a lot of planning," said Grace Handler, the festival chair.
However, it's well worth it. The chamber president is the numbers man for Texas Blueberry Festival revenue.
"In business sales last year, we're about a quarter of a million dollars, $258,000. Indirect sales about $100,000," Mitchell said. "Total sales about $358,000. It supports about 215 jobs in this region."
After the sun sets, people could go home if it wasn't for the Blueberry Jam Session at Millard's Crossing. Or they could take in four other live shows around town. Someone's staying.
"For the first time we have three hotels that are sold out, with waiting lists, on Saturday," said Joanna Temple, the director of sales for the Nacogdoches Convention & Visitors Bureau.
So, the over $10,000 in local tax revenue from last year is likely to climb.
Since Friday, the hits on social media surrounding the Texas Blueberry Festival have been over 28,000 with hundreds of shares. The bluegrass concert page has helped over 16,000 viewers throughout the month.