Natives, tourists enjoy Yorktown's Ziegfest
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YORKTOWN - Patty Madro heard about the Yorktown Ziegfest on the radio in her Corpus Christi home. She ventured up U.S. Highway 77 to an unfamiliar town.
"I just decided to do a road trip," she said.
The 57-year-old Realtor sold her girlfriends on tagging along. It wasn't a hard sell because the trip involved shoe shopping and live country music.
Madro represented thousands of tourists coming to the Yorktown Western Days Ziegfest.
The three-day festival includes Texas music artists, carnivals, Civil War history lessons, and various competitions. This year was the festival's 53rd year.
Melissa Armstrong said the Western Days Association Inc. plans the festival all year. She also said one of the goals is to raise money for community organizations and scholarships.
General admission was free to the public, but certain activities and vendors help to bring in revenue.
Armstrong said people come to the festival from other states. She even spoke with someone from Australia.
Armstrong, the association's executive director, said about 45,000 people visit the festival through the weekend.
Neal Fanelli said the festival is more like a family reunion than a concert. He has family in Yorktown, and he now lives in Victoria.
His 4-year-old daughter, Harly, participated in the mutton bustin' contest.
At first she was hesitant, but she had a change of heart when her cousin, Gracie Castillo, entered the event.
Harly said, while patting her legs, "Bring my chaps."
Fanelli said he will continue to come every year.
"I look forward to next year as soon as I leave," he said.
Norma Valdez, of Yorktown, said she was eager for the festivities to begin. She said she is always one of the first to arrive at the festival.
"This is a small town," she said. "Other people get a chance to see how we dance."
Valdez plans to dance the night away with her boyfriend Santos Carales. His dance moves are so smooth that other women have asked Valdez permission to dance with her beau. She said she doesn't mind.
Carales said dancing keeps him young.
"I'm going to be 66 on Halloween and no one believes it by the way I dance," he said.
Both Valdez and Carales said the festival is a great way to attract visitors.
Not everyone with Yorktown ties, is thrilled about the festival's growth.
Tammy Blain said she's come to the festival her whole life. She even drove back from Kansas to attend while she was in college.
Blain, who lives in Cuero, went to the parade with her family in the morning. She said she didn't plan to stay long.
"The bands are great," she said. "It's just too crowded."
First-timer Madro, said she didn't have any expectations. While waiting for the concert to begin, she sat in the shade with a crisp white blouse, jean shorts, and Ed Hardy sneakers.
She began bopping her head when the opening act, Jeremy Steding, appeared on stage.
"I've never heard of him before, but I like his voice," she said.
Prior commitments kept the mother of five from staying longer. Next year, she said, she will make accommodations.
"If I didn't have to teach Sunday school, I would have stayed the night," she said.