LAMPASAS — Crowds converged on Lampasas for the 41st annual Spring Ho Festival, not letting the heat keep them from enjoying the weeklong event’s biggest day.

This year’s festival theme, “Saddles, Spurs and Springs,” was reflected throughout the Spring Ho Grand Parade Saturday morning, which wrapped around the city’s historic downtown square. Emergency vehicle sirens drew smiles, and various floats sprayed spectators with some much-needed relief from the heat.

Lampasas Police Chief Tim Angermann said due to ongoing construction projects, the parade has taken a secondary route the last few years.

“It is an awesome, beautiful parade. Other than working a lot of hours for our police and fire departments, we don’t have a lot of major problems with Spring Ho. People really just come and celebrate and enjoy their time together seeing old friends and meeting new people. We’re always welcoming people to Lampasas, whether it’s Spring Ho or any day,” Angermann said.

Judith Ann McGhee, a former Spring Ho Festival committee member, said the turnout for this year’s parade was well-attended and supported by other communities.

“We had some really great entries with other areas such as DeLeon, Stonewall and Luling entering floats in the parade, but we do that for them, too. That Spring Ho float travels all up and down the state — they go to about 15 parades a year, so it’s always nice to see them show up to support us, too,” McGhee said.

Another popular event, the Barbecue Cook Off, draws teams vying for title of overall grand champion and the opportunity to compete nationally.

“Every year, we have between 60 and 70 teams, so it’s a large cook off. If you win this one, you get to qualify for some other cooking events around the nation,” Chamber of Commerce Director Jill Carroll said. “We use about 90 judges for the whole event who taste approximately 15 varieties of food in each category working up to the semi-finals and then the finals.”

As the crowds thinned after the parade, festival patrons made their way to the carnival and arts and crafts booths that were sprinkled along the banks of Hancock Springs.

Spring Ho Chairwoman Lisa Dibble said approximately 150 food, arts, crafts and gift vendors were on hand to refresh and entertain the crowds at W.M. Brook Park, and she estimates the crowd total throughout the seven-day event was between 6,000 and 10,000 people.

“Most people come to the parade each year — it’s very popular, and so are the dances on Friday and Saturday nights. We also have lots of family and school reunions that take place because everybody plans it around Spring Ho,” Dibble said.

As the festival comes to an end today, Dibble said plans for next year’s event are right around the corner. Festival committee members will start working again in August.

“There’s no time off — it’s a year-round committee, but it’s a lot of fun and has been a tradition in Lampasas since 1972. Everybody looks forward to Spring Ho,” Dibble said.

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