FLORENCE  — The city dubbed the “friendliest small town in Texas” held its annual Friendship Fest on Saturday.

The annual event, held since the mid-1970s, featured a parade, vendor booths and a dance in the evening. The festival kicked off with a 5K run at the Vineyard of Florence to benefit the town’s library.

Miss Friendship 2013 Susanne Schad, a sophomore at Florence High School, was crowned Oct. 13 at the Vineyard of Florence and was featured in the parade along with Junior Miss Friendship Grace Scott and Little Miss Friendship Katie Kuhn.

The very first Miss Friendship, Amy Foster-Locker, took the crown home in 1975.

The highlight of the festival for many attendees was the parade that made its way from Main Street to the Florence City Park, where a dozen vendors set up shop.

Jaime Ward and her husband, Milborne Ward, never have to travel far to watch the parade, because it passes right in front of their home on College Avenue.

“We’ve got the best seats in the house,” said longtime resident Milborne Ward. “This event is about neighbors being neighbors.”

Children like his granddaughter, Tatum Lincoln, 3, lined the parade route collecting candy being tossed by participants.

“I really like the candy and seeing the rodeo queen and all the horses,” Tatum said.

For Linda Nunn, a Florence resident, the festival is a great way to showcase the city.

“We are a lot more than just a city people pass on the highway on their way into Austin. We have a lot of fun things to see and do here,” she said. “This festival serves as a big family reunion for the people of Florence because we are like one big family.”

Contact Vanessa Lynch at vlynch@kdhnews.com or 254-501-7567.

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