New Friends At Prairie Days

Hadlee Johnson smiles excitedly after Cline Johnson coaxed her to touch a tortoise’s shell at the Prairie Days petting zoo Saturday in Alamo Park behind the Post Office. For more coverage of the event, please see Page 6-A.

Filled with local spirit and entertainment for all ages, Saturday’s Prairie Days event marked another successful year of celebration for El Campo.

Before the festival began, the El Campo Museum’s 5K Fun Run concluded one street over from Alamo Park.

Panting and rosy-cheeked race participants gathered at the finish line, sporting green t-shirts that were notably unstained by color powder this year

“We’ve done it for four or five years now and some of the people said that they just wanted something different,” Museum Director Cheri McGuirk said. “They didn’t want to do color.”

More runners participated than in previous years, and she is always pleased by the community’s support for the museum, McGuirk said.

Funds raised will go to rejuvenating displays in the building’s Seashell room.

Around 10 a.m., when Prairie Days began, festival-goers trickled into the park. The early morning sunshine was relentless, but didn’t appear to dampen the spirits of attendees.

Local vendors sold art, clothing and unique wares including football earrings and armored backpacks.

Traffic was not as congested as in previous years, and because many surrounding businesses were closed by Saturday afternoon, extra parking was available.

Families were quick to flock to the bouncy castle and pony rides, in particular. A returning kids’ feature, the petting zoo offered a unique sight to those lucky enough to witness it. Goats of varying size took turns standing on a tortoise’s back as if surveying their kingdom from atop a great mountain.

After the festival had been open for about an hour, polka music, courtesy of the Texas Legacy Czech Band, and the smell of freshly fried food wafted through the park. The edible treasure trove boasted traditional Hispanic dishes, shaved ice, fried gizzards and corn dogs and lemonade, among other refreshments, to wash it all down.

Later in the day, the heat became tough to bear.

“A lot of the families that I talked to just said it was so hot that they’re staying for a little bit, but they weren’t staying for as long as they normally would,” Munos said. “This is probably one of the hottest ones we’ve ever had.”

The overall Prairie Days crowd was smaller than in previous years, likely because of other events scheduled on the same day, Munos said. Saturday hosted multiple weddings, a quinceanera and a class reunion.

A number of attendees braved through the summer weather, however, dancing to Tejano music from Shelly Lares and Joel Nava and the Border.

AJ Guel and Def Leggend were also favorites, Munos said.

People crowded the stage to take pictures during Def Leggend, likely hyped on nostalgia and sugary festival food.

“We have never had a tribute band,” Munos said. “That was something different, that did bring out a different crowd.”

Although the festival just concluded, Munos is already looking for community suggestions for next year’s Prairie Days. Feedback on entertainment is always welcome, she said.

Munos wanted to thank the community and involved businesses for their cooperation with the festival.

“Without our sponsors, this event would not be possible,” Munos said.

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