Weeklong festival expecting 10,000 visitors

By Audrey Spencer

Killeen Daily Herald

LAMPASAS — Spring Ho kicks off Monday for the city's 40th annual weeklong celebration of summer.

Running each day through July 15, a variety of performances, contests and attractions will be available for residents and visitors, many free of charge.

"It's pretty unique," said Jody Cummings, chairman of this year's event. "There's a lot of fun stuff that only comes around once a year."

From the Spring Ho beauty pageant on opening night to the Grand Parade Saturday morning, and the barbecue cook-off, fireworks display and vendor booths available in between, Spring Ho is a massive event for a small town.

Reportedly drawing up to 10,000 visitors, Spring Ho is Lampasas' biggest annual event.

"We're just hoping it's bigger and better than last year," said Lisa Bibble, who will be in charge of next year's festival. "The vendor spaces are filling up. We have anywhere from 125 to 150 booths at the creek."

Food and arts and craft vendors set up shop at W.M. Brook Parkon Thursday and will be available for browsing until the festival ends.

While the festival is popular with Lampasas residents, visitors are welcome to join the fun.

"I think for the distance you drive, you'll get a whole lot of bang for your buck," said Cummings. "Once you get here, things are relatively inexpensive."

Attractions such as browsing vendor booths and viewing the parade are free.

Even things that cost money, such as food, are worth the time, he said.

"We've got a fajita man who's come here for about 15 or 20 years. They're some of the best fajitas you'll ever get," said Cummings. "My favorite thing is where you get potato fries cut and fried right in front of your eyes."

The location of the festival also offers a different environment for residents of larger cities like Killeen, with historic buildings and the creek near festivities.

The double-take inspiring name of the festival is based not on the season of spring, but on the numerous mineral springs in Lampasas, which helped attract people to the area in the 1800s and are available for swimming.

"Ho" is an expression used to attract attention, sometimes to a destination. "Spring Ho" was the name given to the festival when the idea came up in the 1970s.

Since the first Spring Ho festival in 1972, the event has expanded from taking place the second weekend of July to encompass "Monday through Sunday, each day brimming over with activities," according to the festival's website.

The festival is planned over the course of a year, said Cummings, and offers entertainment for everyone.

"Come out and enjoy," said Cummings. "If you're not sure, you won't know until you come."

To view a schedule of all the festival events, go to www.springho.com and click the "2012 Brochure" link in the top menu.

Contact Audrey Spencer at aspencer@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7476.

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