A 12-acre plot of land along state Highway 6 in Hitchcock transformed into a celebration of the town this weekend with festival rides, barbecue cook-offs and music amid oak and pecan trees.
Hitchcock kicked off its annual Good Ole Days festival Friday night. Many attendees participating in a barbecue cook-off had stayed on the property, cooking into the early morning hours of Saturday before the day’s festivities began again with a 10 a.m. parade down the main thoroughfare.
Attendees described the event as a sort of “reunion” for the town, an opportunity for people to gather with longtime friends.
“My husband was born and raised here and we always come to see people he went to school with,” said Mary Jane Caddell. “It’s like a little reunion.”
Good Ole Days has a long history in Hitchcock and is the community’s largest celebration of the year. Former Hitchcock Mayor and Postmaster Charlie Clifford started the event in 1972 and gave it its theme and title, said Harry Robinson, also a former mayor and lead organizer for the festival.
The event has changed venues since then and grown tremendously, Robinson said. This year, 88 teams signed up to participate in the barbecue challenge, he said. Robinson has been an organizer for the event since 1976.
“We didn’t anticipate it would go this long or get this big,” Robinson said.
Now, the event seems to draw out everyone in the community and surrounding towns, attendees said. Courtney Hunter, an incoming freshman at Hitchcock High School, has been going to the festival since she was a baby and has participated in the annual pageant for several years.
“All the community is involved,” Hunter said. “I get to see friends from school and it’s just a blast.”
It’s her first year on the high school cheerleading team and her squad practiced for weeks to perform at the festival, she said.
“It was a rush and exciting to get to perform with my friends,” she said.
Hunter is also participating in the pageant. On Wednesday, she met with organizers for an interview in which they asked fun questions like “If you could have a super power what would it be?,” she said.
“I’d want to be able to control things with my mind, like making something move, because then it’s like having more than one super power,” Hunter said.
The pageant was slated for Saturday afternoon, then Hunter planned to go on the carnival rides, she said.
Throughout the grounds, groups set up large barbecue pits and chairs and tables for gathering teams.
Lynn Fowler, who grew up in the area, has been participating in the cook-off for more than 20 years, he said. His team, “Up in Smoke,” was busy cooking pulled pork Saturday morning and had brisket and ribs smoking in the pit. Winning or losing the competition didn’t really matter to him, he said.
“If you can’t have fun without winning, you’re in the wrong business,” Fowler said.
Fowler had cooked chicken the night before and he and others in his six-member team had stayed up until 5 a.m. smoking the brisket.
“It’s a lot of work, but it’s a lot of fun,” Fowler said.