Jo Anne Embleton
Jacksonville Daily Progress
The second annual Lone Star USA Celebration – which honors military veterans, first responders and fire and police personnel, along with their families during an Oct. 17-20 event at KE Bushman Celebration Center – promises to be an even bigger event than last year's.
“It's bigger and different, with more physical activities planned,” explained Julianne Sanford, coordinator of the Lone Star Military Resource Group, who along with the Lone Star Military Farmers, is sponsoring the event.
“We've got more things for people to participate in, like a 5K and a golf tournament,” she said. “We were looking for ways to reach out to younger veterans and service members to get them involved in the celebration – we noticed that last year's crowd was mobile, so to sit and listen to different speakers wasn't (as popular as activities would be).
Last year's event drew about 1,000-1,500 people, and this year, organizers feel there could be even more, thanks to the different competitions planned.
This year's keynote speaker is Army Lt. Col. Allan H. Lanceta, who is scheduled to talk at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, discussing the “Soldiers for Life” program, which looks at the various gifts a military member transitioning to civilian life can bring to a community, why hiring veterans makes sound business sense and understanding what qualities a military veteran offers to an organization.
However, because of the government shut-down in the nation's capitol, it's unsure whether Lanceta – director of the Central U.S. Region for the Soldier for Life Program with the Office of the Chief of Staff of the Army – will be present, Sanford said.
Lone Star USA Celebration 2013 kicks off at 2:30 p.m. Thursday at the Jacksonville Chili's, where motorists and motorcyclists will form a contingent that will escort an “American Veterans Traveling Tribute” display as it travels to Palestine, Rusk and Love's Lookout before traveling to the Bushman Center, located at located at 1565 FM 2493 East in Bullard (just off U.S. Hwy 69), where opening ceremonies begin at 5 p.m.
On Friday, area school children are invited to tour the outdoor display from 9-11 a.m., where members of the Korean War Veterans Association Chapter 286 will answer questions. The day's events will include a display of the Missing Man Table Setting – which Sanford says symbolizes “that the family will be waiting” for their fallen hero, who has not been forgotten – and a wreath-laying ceremony led by students from Bullard Elementary.
Saturday's opening ceremonies begin at 9:45 a.m. at the Bushman Center, although two off-site events –a 5K event and a golf tournament – begin earlier.
Check-in for the “Jacked 5K” – hosted by Beyond Fitness of Rusk – starts at 7 a.m. at Kiepersol Estates Vineyard, located at 3933 FM 344 East in Bullard. Cost of the 5K event is $35 per person, but one-mile event for kids and families, which starts at 9:30 a.m., is free of charge. To learn more, contact Beyond Fitness owners Sterling Pratz, 903-393-2984, or Jenny Pratz, 903-393-3623 or Lone Star event coordinator Julianne Sanford, email@example.com.
Meanwhile, the Lone Star USA Golf Tournament – held at the Oak Hurt Golf Club, 6212 CR 152 West in Bullard – has a 7:30 a.m. check-in, followed by an 8:30 a.m. shotgun start of the four-man scramble. Cost is $100 per person; with a late registration of $125. Held, contact Darrell Chase for more information, Golfpro@easttexasgolf.com, or call 903-894-7079.
Other Saturday events at the Bushman Center include:
• Registration for the Patriot Bike Show is from 9-11 a.m., with awards given to the top bikes in eight classes. The event is sponsored by Dirt Floor Choppers; contact David Barber for more information at 903-721-1120.
• This year's Poker Run begins with the first bike out at 10 a.m. and the last on in at 3 p.m., with the Bushman Center as the staging site.
• A Heroes Gauntlet Crossfit Team Challenge is slated for 10:30 a.m. Saturday and features two guaranteed workouts with a final workout for the top teams, with scaling available. Trophies will be awarded to the top three teams, with prizes awarded, too. Cost is $140 for a four-member team, which must include at least one female.
• Registration for a Zumbathon begins at noon, soon followed by Zumba, until 4 p.m. Cost is $12 at the door, and prizes will be awarded. Leading the action will be Zumba instructors Brittany LaPrairie, Charlea Rosier and Laura Love. For tickets, contact Charlea Rosier, 903-330-8717.
Other Saturday events include an arts show, a working dog demonstration by a team from the National Narcotic Detector Dog Association, Inc., a martial arts demonstration by Cherokee County Veterans Service Officer David Thomason, military re-enactors and a visit from motivational speaker Ryan “Cowboy” Ehmann, who was part of the ABC production, “Shark Tank.”
Also planned are static displays of military and tactical equipment and information on farming, preserving, military benefits and history, along with a healthcare fair, the Vet Center Van and the Carber BloodCare Van.
Sunday events begin with an 11 a.m. field chapel service featuring Kenny Cantrell with Badges & Boots, Chet Strain with Branded 4 Christ Ministries, followed by a bring-your-own picnic and sharing of fifth-graders' essays on “What Freedom Means to Me.”
The celebration concludes with a 3:30 p.m. flag retirement ceremony hosted by the Marine Corps League Jacksonville Texas Det. #1381 will – flags may be brought to the event, or dropped off Tuesday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the ACCESS office at 913 N. Jackson in Jacksonville.
Musical entertainment will be provided Friday evening by Caitlynn Brette and Blacktop MOJO, beginning 6 p.m., and at 5 p.m. Saturday with music by Two Jacks & a Jill, Melissa Duval, Curtis Wright & the Tuxedo Cats.
To learn more about the 2013 Lone Star USA Celebration, contact Julianne Sanford, 903-810-0303 or firstname.lastname@example.org, and Stephanie Moore, 903-780-3369 or email@example.com.
Or, visit the Facebook page “Lone Star USA Celebration 2013 October 17-20.”