Needville Harvest Festival

The Needville Harvest Festival Committee is hard at work planning a comeback after COVID-19 sidelined the annual event last October. In front, from left, are board members Sherry Winkelman and Sandra Wendt; back row: President Chris Janicek and board members W. Lee Hedt and Bill Schiffman. Not pictured is LaNette Schultz.
The Needville Harvest Festival Committee is hard at work planning a comeback after COVID-19 sidelined the annual event last October. In front, from left, are board members Sherry Winkelman and Sandra Wendt; back row: President Chris Janicek and board members W. Lee Hedt and Bill Schiffman. Not pictured is LaNette Schultz.
Plans for the 37th annual Needville Harvest Fest are in full swing, and it promises to be one of the most special celebrations the Harvest Festival Committee has ever pulled together.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event wasn’t held last year, but there will be plenty to celebrate this year.

No charge, park rededicated

Not only will there be no charge for admission as the community welcomes the return of the Harvest Fest on Oct. 15 and 16, but Harvest Park will officially be renamed in honor of one of its biggest fans and supporters, Don Wenzel.

A Needville native and Needville High School graduate, Wenzel passed away April 3 at the age of 78. He loved the community and was involved with numerous organizations throughout the county.

He was a Harvest Fest board member for 32 years and helped with countless projects, fundraisers and the festival itself.

“Not only will we rename the park for Don, but this year’s entire festival will be dedicated in memory of, and appreciation for, him,” said Harvest Festival Committee President Chris Janicek. “Don was an integral part of the Harvest Fest since its beginning, serving on the board and committee. He had a kind and generous heart, and was always willing to help in any way possible. The festival has grown and prospered thanks to Don’s leadership, and we are forever grateful for his dedication to, and love of, this community.”

Plenty of activities planned

“We have lots of plans already in place and hope to have more soon,” Janicek said. “We want to keep the favorites people look forward to every year, but also add some things to keep it all fresh.”

At a committee meeting a couple of months ago, it was decided not to move forward with this year’s festival due to the pandemic; however, recent strides in controlling the COVID-19 virus have made it possible to bring back the fun-filled event.

“From the barbecue cook off on Friday night to the raffle drawing that will close out the festivities on Saturday night, everyone is sure to have a great time,” said Janicek. “And for the first time, admission is free both days. We just felt like we needed to have a family friendly event that allows folks to come have a great time without worrying about the cost.”

The Friday night cook-off includes fajita and margarita judging, with barbecue judging taking place the following evening.

Events begin early the next morning with a fun run for prizes, followed by the Talent Show, Little Mr. and Miss, and Queen contests.

A live auction with unique items donated by Harvest Fest sponsors, community members and vendors will take place in the pavilion, and a car show will be held in the parking lot adjacent to the Youth Fair barn.

Numerous other offerings are in the works, but the festival is set to close with the traditional raffle drawing for a 2021 John Deere 4x4 Gator, John Deere 48-inch, zero-turn lawn mower, and several cash prizes.

Sponsors, volunteers, vendors needed

“The Harvest Fest has something for everyone, and everyone is needed to make it a success,” said Janicek. “This will most likely be the last year as directors for most of us, myself included, so we need people to step up and become committee and board members to make sure this special Needville tradition continues.”

The first Harvest Fest took place in 1983 in downtown Needville, but continued growth necessitated the move to the 16.2-acre Harvest Park, located at 3001 Violet St., several years later.

Improvements made possible by Harvest Fest include: a paved, lighted walking trail that winds through the facility; building expansion with restrooms, including two covered pavilions; and two playgrounds with benches.

Scattered throughout the tree-shaded park are covered picnic tables and barbecue pits.

“You can often find families enjoying all the facilities and having a great time together, and we want to keep it that way,” Janicek said. “The Harvest Fest boasts an annual attendance of more than 4,500, which makes it possible to raise funds for current and long-range projects.”

Harvest Park parking facilities are also maintained year ’round for use by Needville Little League and the Needville Youth Fair, both of which are located adjacent to the park.

Needville Harvest Festival, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. All proceeds from the Harvest Fest benefit the development and annual maintenance of Harvest Park and provide scholarships for Needville High School graduates.

“We appreciate everyone’s attendance so much because that’s what enables us to keep the park the wonderful facility that it is,” Janicek said. “We also appreciate the Lions Club, Boy Scouts, 4-H, school choir groups and other organizations that have helped out at the Harvest Fest for years. They do things like man the gates, help maintain the park and much more. Then of course, there are our talented vendors, dedicated volunteers and faithful sponsors. The Harvest Fest just wouldn’t be possible without them.”

Sponsors are listed on all festival information and advertisement, and are needed more than ever this year, as the COVID-19 rebound continues.

“We are working hard to procure new sponsors and new committee members and volunteers to ensure the success of this year’s festival and the continuation of the event itself,” Janicek said. “What we know for sure is that there will be plenty of fun for folks of all ages, and this will be a Harvest Fest to remember.”

Any businesses or individuals interested in becoming sponsors, volunteers or committee members are asked to contact Janicek by email at [email protected] or by phone at 281-468-9314.

Food and craft vendors and food truck owners should email [email protected] for more information and applications.

- By BEVERLY POLLOCK




 
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