CENTER, Texas (KTRE) - With many events canceled because of COVID-19, one festival kicked off Thursday in the Piney Woods.
The 44th Annual East Texas Poultry Festival kicked off in Center Thursday morning with entertainment, live vendors, arts and crafts and a carnival set.
“The poultry industry is huge in this community," Payne said. "We just felt like our community needs this. There are people who count on this for income. People also count on this as a time to come out and just enjoy themselves.”
Festival Chairman Josh Payne says their committee debated for quite some time but decided to move forward.
“We trust everyone to be responsible,” Payne said. “We think everyone can be with social distancing. We’re providing masks. If you don’t feel comfortable then don’t, but if you do want to come, just be responsible. That’s all we’re asking.”
Payne says because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are new guidelines in place.
“The carnival also has all of their regulations directions posted on each ride,” Payne said. “They disinfect. We do as well. We’re going to have everything spread out and sanitation stations everywhere. We encourage you to wear masks if it makes you feel comfortable.”
For the quilt and art show inside, he says you must wear a mask. County Judge Allison Harbison says safety is a top priority.
“A little apprehensive but really pleased to see it,” Harbison said. “Everyone, I think, is starving to get out. We still urge everyone to social distance and wear a mask if at all possible and just be smart. The life you save may be your own or someone you love.”
Jason Mitchell lives in Center and helped set up a booth.
“Thought it was a good way come out and give back,” Mitchell said. “It also gives the town something to do. You know, a good way to come out and have some responsible fun.”
“We think it’s going to be a great time,” Payne said. “All the feedback we’ve gotten is thank goodness y’all are having it.”
The Festival will continue Friday and Saturday at the John D. Windham Civic Center in the City of Center. Typically, it’s held downtown but crews are working on revitalizing parts of downtown at the moment. They will not have the poultry pageant this year. Entry buttons to get in are $5 and that money goes to the local Lions Club.