Jo Anne Embleton
Jacksonville Daily Progress
It's part country fair, and part costumed fun, with quilts and jelly and zombies added into the mix.
It is the inaugural Rusk Hollow Festival, slated Thursday through Saturday at the Rusk Civic Center.
Residents have celebrated a fall festival since the early 1970s, when the first Indian Arts & Crafts festival was held, said Rusk Chamber of Commerce event coordinator Connie Parsons said, “and this last year we had to make a decision: Did we want to continue with this or do we want to start fresh?
“We decided to start fresh and do something a little more daring” by including a cross-country Zombie run at the suggestion of a young couple, she said.
They “came to me and said, 'we've seen this video, they do zombie runs and can we do it here?'” she recalled.
Having seen how popular these runs are, Chamber leaders were immediately behind the event.
“This is going to be crazy – not only kid-crazy, but I've had adults walk in and ask for forms to be zombie,” which are divided into “stumblers” and “chasers,” Parsons said.
The cross-country route winds through the Birmingham Forest Golf Club and finishes at the adjoining Civic Center, located at 555 Euclid St. Runners – and zombies – can register up through the start of the 4 p.m. event, either in person or online at www.ruskchamber.com.
Other Saturday events – with a 9 a.m. ceremony – include the Texas State Railroad Children's costume contest for children ages 2 and 12; a Mommy & Child Mummy Wrap contest; displayed entries from a photography contest; and a jam and jelly contest that culminates in an auction that raises funds for the Good Samaritan ministry, which sponsors a food pantry and clothes closet.
Also planned are entertainment by T's Tumbling, the Cherokee Cloggers, Ron Shepard; and a salsa contest and a beard contest.
In connection with the festival, members of Rusk High School senior class will stage a “Roaming Zombie Night” Thursday at the local Sonic Drive-In as a fundraiser for their “Senior Finale,” which the Zombie run also will help support.
Carnival rides – provided through Sam's Amusements/Carnival – open at 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday evenings, and all day Saturday, with $1 rides for kids and $2 adult rides Thursday, and wrist bands available other days.
A juried quilt show will be held at the civic center, with viewing from 4-10 p.m. Thursday and Friday, and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. Members of the Quilt Guild of Cherokee County also will be demonstrating different handiwork techniques like hand embroidery, treadle machine, and English paper piecing, among others.
The festival concludes Saturday evening with a free 6 p.m. costumed dance emceed by Music Masters of East Texas, with prizes offered in several categories.
“It's been crazy” trying to organize all the different events that comprise the festival, “but I think it's going to be very good,” Parsons said.
“I think the whole community is buying into this, and the businesses are wanting to buy into this, so it's turning into a big community event. And that's what we wanted, to have the community involved,” she said. “I see this really taking off.”
To learn more about the Rusk Hollow Festival, contact the local Chamber of Commerce at 903-683-2850.