HOUSTON – The Flywheel Festival unfolds Friday and Saturday in Houston with lots of food, fun and quality entertainment.
The 33nd annual Mississippi Valley Flywheel Spring Festival will be held April 25-26 in Joe Brigance Park and kicks off with a boom at the anvil shoot at 11 a.m.
“We started doing the anvil shoot not long after the Flywheel Festival started,” said Charles Van Horn, of Vardaman. “We do it the first day of the festival and again at 11 a.m. on Saturday and we close out the festival with our last one at 1 p.m.”
Van Horn said the practice started in pioneer days using blackpowder and two anvils.
“In Europe they still do it to mark Christmas Day,” said Van Horn. “We just do it because it is fun and we want to see how high it goes.”
The anvil shoot will not only mark the start, but also two other high profile events at this year’s festival. The 11 a.m. shoot on Saturday will be followed by The Eisenhauer Band on the main stage. The family trio has played Nashville and brings their own special brand of bluegrass and country music to the stage. They will be followed by American Idol contestant Priscilla Barker of Amory. Blues legend Sam Mosely, of New Albany, will take the stage at 1 p.m.
The 1 p.m. shoot will also mark the start of the Tractor Pull at the back of Joe Brigance Park.
“We always work real hard to make this a fun, family-oriented event,” said Harry Collins, spokesman for the Mississippi Valley Flywheel Association. “We’ve got a petting zoo, more bounce houses and lots of fun stuff for mom and dad, too.”
The Houston Touchdown Club will sponsor a catfish supper from 4 to 7 p.m. at the CDF building. Entertainment will be provided on the parking lot out front starting at 6 p.m.
Saturday will see the Pink Ribbon 5K fun-run to raise money to fight breast cancer sponsored by the New Century Club, opening ceremonies and of course a full slate of vendors selling everything from jewelry and t-shirts to good things to eat.
The Parade of Power will wind through downtown Houston at 9:30 a.m. Local bands and entertainers will take to the stage from 9 a.m., to 2 p.m.
The tractor pull is the main event of the fall festival and it starts around noon.
And, as always, there will be demonstrations of steam and diesel engines, hominy cooking, a working grist mill, lard rendering, lye soap processing and a host of other pioneer projects in the park.
The Chickasaw County Historical and Genealogical Society will also have the Ag Museum open and artifacts on display. The Museum will unveil its new Civil War display with photos of local people who lived through “The War.”
“We had record crowds last year and if the weather holds out we expect another good festival,” said Joyce East, Executive Director of the Chickasaw Development Foundation. “The Flywheel Festival brings a lot of people to town and it is a big shopping day for our community.”
And there will be plenty of food for the hungry and arts and crafts for shoppers at Joe Brigance Park.
“We have worked real hard to increase the number of vendors at this year’s festival,” said East. “We expect to have over 40 booths.”
In addition to the traditional tractor pull and the piston chunkin’ for guys and skillet toss for women, there will also be a slow tractor race, box-the-chain competition and wagon backing contest.
“The slow tractor race will see tractors pull up to the the starting line and idle,” said Collins. “The lowest idling tractor will be the slowest and it takes a special kind of mechanic to win this race.”
Collins said the box-the-chain competition will see a box drawn in the center of a circle and the driver has to hook it up and back it all into the box. The wagon backing contest is a simple competition of speed and skill.
“The Flywheel Festival is all about fun and we always have a lot of it,” said Collins.
Collins said the tractor competitions require a tractor and registration. The piston chunkin’ and skillet toss are open to all with trophies to be awarded.
“The Flywheel Festival is always a chance to showcase our community and we hope people will mark their calendar and plan to come out,” said East. “Rain or shine we always have a lot of fun and bring a lot of people to Houston for the weekend.
There are a limited number of booth spaces left for this year’s festival and vendors wanting to obtain a spot should contact East at 456-2321.
SEE FLYWHEEL FESTIVAL SPECIAL EDITION IN THIS WEEK’S CHICKASAW JOURNAL IN NEWSTANDS AROUND HOUSTON AND CHICKASAW COUNTY.