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Enjoy Swampfest

"Swampfest 15" is just around the corner and the volunteers who put the event together are finalizing plans they believe will provide the public with the best festival ever.

The event is set to begin with the "Bobby Hewitt Cancer Walk," which kicks off Saturday, Oct. 1 at 10 a.m. on the football field at Gates County High School. This walk is an important event in the county since it helps cancer patients and their families right here in the county. Anyone who can walk is asked to sign up and those who raise $30 get a free T-shirt to commemorate the event and show you are a supporter.

This is an excellent way to honor someone or show that you are walking in memory of a loved one and at the same time, help a very worthy cause. Anyone raising $100 can have the name of that loved one printed on the back of their T-shirt.

The Walk is just one of the many features of Swampfest, and event that began with a handful of people who wanted to throw a party for the county. It kicked off in 1991 with only 4,000 people showing up for the celebration of our beautiful Gates County's environment and its people.

Since that time, 15 years ago, the festival has grown to the point where it was necessary to move it from the streets of downtown Gatesville to the grounds of the Community Center where there is plenty of parking for the expected 10,000-plus visitors.

Swampfest is an excellent time to come out on a nice fall day to enjoy the atmosphere of an old fashioned county fair. There, you are bound to meet your friends and neighbors, and probably most of your relatives who are also in search of a great time.

You can take the entire family to this feast for the senses since no alcohol, profanity or otherwise "bad" behavior will be tolerated on the site. Sheriff's deputies will make sure of everyone's safety.

Those attending who enjoy "cuttin' a rug" should bring their dancing shoes because there will be plenty of music, both from a DJ and from live performers.

Be sure to bring a hearty appetite since some of the best food vendors in the area will be providing us with everything from breakfast from Gates County's 4-H Club to Youth Explosion's Funnel Cakes and baked items.

The Gates County Hurricanes will offer everyone's favorite, fried Twinkies and donuts along with coffee, and True Gospel Ministries will show off their talents with fried crabs, fried chicken and yock.

North Gates United Methodist Churches will feature some down home chili, baked goods and those wonderful "jacks" we all love so much. Eunice Eley will offer fried fish and crabs, candy apples and snow cones, and Nixon's Catering will be on hand selling barbecue sandwich platters, corn dogs, fries, funnel cakes and drinks.

Chalee Food Fair brings teriyaki and barbecue chicken on a stick, rice, egg rolls lo mien and drinks and Bread of Heaven is bring their famous turkey legs, burgers, chicken pitas and drinks.

Get the idea? There is something for every taste bud going to happen at the 15th Annual Swampfest.

That's not all! There will be exhibits and sales of arts and crafts items as well as commercial vendors bringing in their wares at great prices. There will also be exhibits and displays to educate and amaze you.

Since Swampfest is all about our Gates County environment, it is perfectly appropriate that Floyd Williams and others from Merchant's Millpond State Park will bring out some of the creatures that inhabit our wild woodlands and marshy terrains. Look for them as they display everything from spiders and snakes and who knows? Maybe they'll drag one of our seven-feet long alligators out of the Millpond long enough to amaze and delight you.

The Swampfest is a wonderful time of community awareness, a time of togetherness when everyone is your friend and neighbor. Historically, days for the event have provided beautiful blue skies and mild temperatures.

In other words, it is a perfect time for one and all attending to forget about gas prices, the situation in Iraq, and all our other burdensome cares. Come out; show your support of our fair county and enjoy the day!