Photo: Karen Zurawski / Karen Zurawski
What a difference a year makes.
Historic downtown Richmond bustled with people Nov. 24 as it hosted the 2019 Pecan Harvest Festival. It was quite unlike the previous November when cold, wet weather descended and put a damper on activities.
From the face painting booth to the farmers market to the car show, visitors agreed all was good this year.
Jeff Wisdom, lead chair of the Car & Bike Show at the festival, called this year’s event a huge success.
“We had 115 cars in attendance this year. Three times that of the biggest car show that the Pecan Harvest Festival has had to date,” he said. Serving on the committee with him were Sherri Doris and his wife Amber Wisdom. They gave out 59 awards at the show.
“We had cars ranging from the oldest being a 1920 Ford Model T, the most expensive being a lime green Lamborghini, and just about everything in the middle. We had a huge turnout of mid 50s and early 60s era cars, 60s-70s era muscle cars, modern muscle, trucks, Jeeps and custom cars of all types. More than 70 percent of participants were new to the Pecan Festival Car Show series, having never competed in our event before, added Wisdom.
“There were a few hiccups this year as a result of massive growth, but growth always brings growing pains, and we are super blessed to have had the amazing weather and outstanding turnout of cars this year!,” said Wisdom. “The event will happen again on the Sunday before thanksgiving in 2020, and we hope it is every bit as big, if not bigger. More than 70% of participants were new to the Pecan Festival Car Show series, having never competed in our event before.
Richard Mundine of Cypress brought his 2017 Shelby GT 350. As he polished the finish, he said he’s been to quite a few car shows and the one in Richmond seemed like a good one. When he attends a car show, he said what he looks for is cleanliness. “I look at the motor to make sure it’s clean. That’s really what I’m after when I’m looking at cars.”
In addition to the Lamborghini, the show featured a bright red 1938 Chevy and a plum purple 1938 Chevy coupe that helped fill the street with families and men who looked under the hoods of the displayed vehicles.
Mundine said the colors attract visitors. “Anything that pops — greens, bright ruby red, striping — something with stripes – anything that looks mean. I love it — mean and aggressive.”
Wisdom credited sponsorships for the success of this year’s show. He listed Mighty Moose T-Shirts, Monarch Trophy and Awards, Houston area Jaguar and Land Rover Retailers and Republic Harley Davidson of Sugar Land.
“We had 18 classes available of which 17 classes supported entries. We had numerous ties in different classes that made judging very difficult. Judging was put together by a team of enthusiasts ranging from 21 to 65 in age; and they judged based on interior, exterior, paint and body, engine and overall display,’ he said.
He contrasted this year to recent years. “Two years ago, there were only three classes for cars to enter,” he said.
“Last year we had 12 classes, but were killed in attendance with a rain storm that dropped the temp ~40 degrees in about two hours. This year we had perfect weather and 18 classes.”
The popularity of the car show exceeded expectations, according to Allehseya Hawk, event coordinator for the Pecan Harvest Festival. “Our car show is growing very fast. We usually in the past have half of what we had this year. We need to meet that growth pattern.” Hawk talked of expanding room for the car show now held on on the north end of Morton Street.
The bake-off had 30 entries under the new leadership of Monica Nanez of Blue Collar Bakery. Hawk said they were very pleased with the participation and leadership of the bake-off committee.
Nanez said the top three winners by category are: Cakes: 1st- Samantha Petrosky, 2nd- Cathy Pitts, 3rd- Tina Kovar; Cookies, Bars, and Brownies: 1st- David Burnett, 2nd- Annette Kovar, 3rd- Sandra Grout; Candy: 1st- Tina Kovar, 2nd- Cathy Pitts, 3rd- Patsy Lewis; Pies and cobblers: 1st- Lorna Otto, 2nd- Vicki Knesek, 3rd- Tina Kovar.
“The farmers market is something that Richmond really wants to see grow and continue,” said Hawk. It started in 2017 behind Richmond City Hall. “It’s become so popular that we would like to see it fill the entire parking lot,” said Hawk. “We’re halfway there now.”
Al Glos of Glos Gardens of Richmond was among those participating in the farmers market at the Pecan Harvest Festival.
Glos said he normally sells vegetables at the festival but those all sold out at the farmers market the previous day. For his booth in Richmond he brought all his canned goods from pickles and jams to candied jalapeño and jellies along with fresh baked goods and gift baskets. “We are here helping support the community,” said Glos. “It’s a really good crowd. It’s been a really good market so far.”
Hawk said the city plans to offer a regular farmers market starting in the spring.
She thanked the pecan education partners for their participation and help to make the festival possible: Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, Texas Pecan Growers Association, Texas Farm Bureau and Texas Department of Agriculture.
“Those partners put together a wonderful pecan education component,” she said. “We had to move it out to the grassy square; it’s just growing.”
The festival also featured live stage entertainment, carnival games, hayrides and handcrafted artisan goods. Hawk said the pecan festival was revived by community arts advocates partnering with the city to generate tourism revenue.