A three-day festival in Gainesville, now with a history of close to three decades, is set to commence in downtown Gainesville during mid-October.
The 27th annual “Depot Days” ceremony begins Friday and spans through the following Sunday. Cited as the city’s largest free-admission festival of the year, Depot Days began as a celebration of the 1902 acquisition of Gainesville’s Santa Fe train depot.
And through nearly 30 years, the event has grown in size and stature — attracting a steadily rising number of vendors and guest artists — and has changed locations three times, now positioned in the city’s downtown area near Cooke County Courthouse.
As in years past, the festival is hosted by the Main Street Gainesville organization, in coordination with Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce.
“We’ve seen some steady growth,” said Lynette Pettigrew, Gainesville Main Street manager and the chamber’s executive director. “Last year, we had the threat of the big thunderstorm. And we have a chance of rain this year as well, but we hope it holds off.”
The event’s first highlight is the Gainesville Antique and Classic Car Club show, an annual tradition with restored autos judged for prizes. It begins at 6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 11, with a “cruise” of vehicles, followed by the competitive element of the show on the following Saturday. Registration is 8 a.m. to noon that day, with judging set for noon to 3 p.m. and awards at 4 p.m. in the State Theater on California Street. The first 100 car show entrants receive a free T-shirt, plus a dash plaque.
Other Depot Days highlights, available Oct. 11 through Oct. 13:
• A special pancake breakfast presented by Gainesville Kiwanis Club is set for 7 to 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 12, at the Backstage Cafe on California Street. Tickets are $5 and the format is all-you-can-eat.
• During Depot Days, arts and crafts vendors will be on site among several downtown streets, offering a variety of goods such as leather items, wood crafts, wine glasses, kitchenware, jewelry, bags, face-painting and more. Assorted bake sales and representatives of special causes such as animal rescue will also be available.
• Entertainment includes “After Dark” entertainment at 6:15 p.m. Friday, Oct. 11, featuring bands Southtown Rewound and Austin group Two Tons of Steel. Visitors are urged to bring lawn chairs and enjoy the free concert. And on Saturday. Oct. 12, festival guests can watch reenactment shows from Western gunfighters and Sons of Confederacy members.
• “Festival Foods” will include beer and wine, turkey legs, kettle corn, funnel cake, corndogs, “twisted taters,” brisket, Frito chili pies, Mexican food, hot dogs, chicken strips and more.
• The entertainment lineup of Saturday, Oct. 12, includes a performance by Mary Fay Jackson, an appearance by animal expert “Critterman” and music by The Elevators, the Gainesville Swing Orchestra, The Holler Time and Willy KickIt.
• Kids can find plentiful fun with pony rides, a petting zoo, inflatable bounce houses, a climbing wall, slides, a workshop and the appearance of “hamster ball” rides.
• The Gainesville Independent School District Foundation’s third annual Depot Day Run, which includes 10-mile, 5-mile and 5-kilometer competitions, is set for 8 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 13, beginning at the Cooke County Courthouse.
Pettigrew said as mid-October nears, she anticipates growing participation in the running events, and added that public attendance climbs steadily year to year.
“We’re looking forward to a great weekend,” she said.
For more information about Depot Days, call (940) 665-2831. More information about the car show is available at (940) 665-5181 or www.gainesvillecarclub.com.
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