BELTON — The Festival on Nolan Creek, part of Belton’s annual Fourth of July celebration, brought hundreds of attendees to Yettie Polk Park and Confederate Park on Friday.
The festival was organized by the Belton Area of Chamber of Commerce and sponsored by Wal-Mart.
In addition to a carnival, the event featured a contest from the Texas Old Time Fiddlers Association.
The contest, now in its ninth year, awards over $1,300 in prize money and draws participants of all ages from all over Texas.
“I love this contest. It reminds me of the ones I used to go to as a kid,” said Tara Turner, a fiddle player from Austin who was competing this year. “The whole community shows up; it’s not just the contest off in a building somewhere.”
The festival — as well as the parade, rodeo and the other events in the weeklong celebration — were estimated to have drawn 50,000 attendees — some of whom traveled from out of state.
Camile Gomes and Pauline Santos, two recent college graduates from Bridgeport, Conn., stopped in Belton to visit friends and decided to attend the festival.
As they sat and listened to some of the fiddlers, they were impressed.
“The music is interesting and good,” Santos said.
Gomes liked the homemade sodas and other handcrafted confections.
“We don’t see homemade stuff too often back home,” Gomes said. A temperature in the low 90s with humidity hovering around 40 percent didn’t deter Gomes or Santos.
“We’ve got good weather, good food and good music,” Santos said. “What else could you ask for?”
For some longtime Belton residents the weather did put a damper on things.
“The crowd is a little smaller than last year, but we did have those rains yesterday,” said Kenneth Guthrie.
Guthrie has been attending the festival for 47 years.
Guthrie and his wife, Nettie, have introduced their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren to the festival.
“It’s all in the blood,” Kenneth Guthrie said.
For lifelong Belton residents like Tricia Rivenburg, coming to the Festival at Nolan Creek is an important part of celebrating Independence Day.
Rivenburg’s husband, Lee, said he thinks the festival “makes people feel at home.”
“The chamber has done a great job of keeping people’s interests over the years by adding little things,” said Lee Rivenburg, who has been attending the festival for 10 years.
“It’s a little more arts and crafts than it used to be, and that’s good.”