Community members gathered Saturday for “Good Ole Days,” a mixture of fun, patriotism and competition in Hitchcock that marks the final days of summer.

The 45th annual festival celebrated country and state with its “Red, White and Blue” theme, sponsored by the Hitchcock Chamber of Commerce.

A morning parade along state Highway 6 — with floats, police patrol cars, fire trucks and the Hitchcock High School marching band and cheerleaders — kicked off the second day of celebration, ending the route at the festival grounds. Elected officials and community leaders took the stage to welcome residents and to speak about unity.

“I want you all to look around,” said Precinct 2 Constable Jimmy Fullen, who’s also the chamber of commerce president. “This is what small communities are doing, and it should be a role model for the country.”

While vendors sold their wares and kids rode carnival rides, the celebration was permeated by the smells of 91 cooking teams vying for barbecue acclaim. The celebration marks the final competition of the county’s barbecue Triple Crown, a three-part series of cook-offs. The Galveston County Fair and Rodeo and Texas City Funfest are the first two.

“It’s very competitive,” organizer Lew Benham said. “These people spend a lot of money.”

Tables of judges, equipped with pickles, cheese, and beer to cleanse their palates, reviewed ribs, pulled pork, brisket and chicken to determine a winner.

In addition to the barbecue tradition, the celebration included a beauty pageant for contestants ages 3 to 18, who competed in four age group categories. For the second year, the “mutton bustin’,” a popular Galveston County Fair and Rodeo event in which kids try to ride sheep, was part of the festival.

As part of a new feature of the festival, Sonny “The Bird Man” Carlin brought his traveling trained bird show featuring macaws and doves from Nederland.

The festival was scheduled to conclude with a performance by rock band “In Your Face” and raffle drawings.

“This is a great community event,” Precinct 2 County Commissioner Joe Giusti said. “This should be held up as an example.”

Contact reporter Chacour Koop at 409-683-5241 or chacour.koop@galvnews.com.

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