Kempner Mayor Keith Harvey realized a dream Saturday when the first ever Celebrate Kempner-Pickett Fest kicked off at Sylvia Tucker Memorial Park.

“This has been in my heart for many years,” said Harvey, who has been mayor less than two weeks. “I wanted to bring the city itself together, but in the midst of doing that, other communities around started jumping in ... and it was just fuel to the vision God had given me.”

In addition to uniting the community, Harvey said the festival showcases the variety of vendors that call Kempner home. He expected about two dozen vendors to be on site by the time the festival opened at 10 a.m.

Among those selling their wares on Saturday was Dee Johnson of DJ Farms. The 77-year-old from Lampasas was selling farm fresh tomatoes and other produce, though she admitted that she was doing a bit of moonlighting.

“I (oversee) the Lampasas farmer’s market every Saturday,” Johnson said. “Mayor Harvey asked me specifically if I would come over here today. I’m missing ours but I sent somebody over to run ours.”

Johnson said the farm has been in business for 14 years, but isn’t quite as big as it used to be.

“This year we have over an acre, and we have 300 tomato plants,” Johnson said. “We used to have 1,000, (but) I’m getting too old for the larger amount.”

Alberto Salinas of Kempner came to the festival with his family. He felt bringing the community together was a great idea.

“I think they’ve done a really good job of getting the people out,” Salinas said. “They’ve got pony rides for the kids, bounce houses and of course, the shaved ice.

“You know every kid wants a snow cone, especially on a day like this. Good Texas weather.”

Harvey hoped that sampling the variety of goods Kempner has to offer will encourage people driving through on U.S. Highway 190 to stop and take a look.

“They need to know what’s available in Kempner,” Harvey said. “There’s so much here. Take a seat. Come into the park. Get to meet some of the people in Kempner. Partake at some of the restaurants that we have here.

“And just know ... Kempner is going to grow.”

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