HOUSTON – Perfect weather, quality entertainment and of course plenty of tractors and flywheels made for record crowds at the 32nd Annual Mississippi Valley Flywheel Association Flywheel Festival this weekend.
The threat of rain had event organizers concerned about the turnout, but Friday’s fish fry and music pulled thousands to Joe Brigance Park. Saturday started with the Pink Ribbon 5K Run and the Band Booster Pancake Breakfast and finished up with a tractor pull that also saw a record number of entries.
“It’s easy to say ‘this was the best flywheel ever,’” said Chickasaw Development Foundation Executive Director Joyce East. “But I am very sincere when I say this was probably the best festival we have ever had.
“The rain held off until we got finished, Ace Cannon and all the other entertainers were really quality acts and we also had the most vendors we have ever had,” East added. “I think this festival is beginning to get a name for itself and we had flywheel folks and tractors from all across the state and across the Southeast in Houston this weekend.”
Friday kicked off with Charles Van Horn blowing a 100-pound anvil in the air at 11 a.m. sharp. He also set off the charge at 11 a.m. Saturday to mark the start of saxophone legend Ace Cannon’s show on the main stage and again at 1 p.m. to open the tractor pull.
“The park was full of flywheelers and their trailers this weekend,” said Harry Collins, Treasurer of the Flywheel Association. “We also had a good number of tractors show up and the largest number ever to enter the pull.”
Collins also pointed to an 80-percent chance of rain that somehow skirted Houston until the festival was closing down.
“The weather was actually perfect – not to hot and not too cold,” said Collings. “Things went very smoothly and a lot of people had a lot of fun.”
This year’s event was held in conjunction with the grand opening of the Chickasaw County Museum on the north end of Joe Brigance Park.
“We were very pleased with the turnout and the museum was full all day long,” said Chickasaw Historical Society President Larry Davis. “I also noticed most of the people who came through up here were local people.”
Davis said he felt interest in local history brought out homefolk. He added that most visitors were busy asking questions about exhibits and adding their remembrance of community history.
The Flywheel Festival also crowned its first Miss Flywheel Festival queen.
Houston High School’s Victoria Troetscher, 17, was crowned Miss Flywheel and Ihle Gann, 13, of Nettleton, was named Miss Teen Flywheel.
“I am so excited about this and look forward to representing Houston and the Flywheel Festival,” said Troetcher. “The pageant was very laid back and just walking around the Flywheel Festival has been so much fun.”
Troetcher is the daughter of David Adams and Amanda Belcher. Her favorite subjects are music and English. Her hobbies are anything outdoors and spending time with family and friends.
Gann is the daughter of Samantha and Gary Gann of Amory and the great-grandchild of Toy and Charlene Coleman of Chicksaw County. Gann will serve at community events in the Queen’s absence.
East said more than 50 vendors showed up at this year’s festival.
“The vendors brought a lot of quality art and there were plenty of crafts and other neat stuff to buy,” said East. “We also had a large number of civic groups, churches and individuals selling food and everyone I talked to did very well.”
Festival organizers took regular crowd counts throughout the day both Friday and Saturday with approximately 2,500 showing up on Friday and more than 5,000 people in attendance on Saturday.
The Houston Fall Flywheel Festival will be held Sept. 27-28 in Joe Brigance Park.