HOUSTON – There are lots of spring festivals in Northeast Mississippi but only one flywheel festival.
The 36th Annual Flywheel Festival got underway in Houston Friday and Saturday with thousands gathering in Joe Brigance park to eat a little, sing a little, buy a little and talk a lot about tractors, flywheels and a time gone by.
“We’ve been doing this for a lot of years and it never gets old to us,” said Harry Collins, spokesman for the Flywheel Festival. “We love tinkering with old tractors, these flywheels and seeing folks we haven’t seen in years.”
Friday started with antique tractors and engines going on display at Joe Brigance Park. Arts and crafts vendors also began setting up that morning. The festival officially got underway at 11 a.m. Friday, with the first of several “anvil shoots.”
“We take about a pound of black-powder and put it under a 70-pound anvil and send it about 150-feet into the air,” said Collins with a slight grin. “In pioneer days it was used to mark Christmas Eve and New Years. We use it to mark the opening of the Flywheel Festival.
“We actually had people come from Pennsylvania this year to learn how to do this,” he added. “They want to start a festival like ours.”
The Houston Football Booster Club served hundreds of pounds of catfish at its fish fry fundraiser Friday night and Kevin Thornton took the stage at six that evening in the park.
Saturday began with the Pink Ribbon 5K run at 8 a.m. and the Dream Riders motorcycle club and Cruizin’ Houston Car Club lining up their rides.
The opening ceremony at 9 a.m. and recognized those individuals who fostered and supported the Flywheel Festival for years.
The Parade of Power featuring tractors old and new putted around the park at 9:30 a.m. with entertainers taking to the main stage until 2 p.m.
The tractor pull is the main event of the fall festival and it cranked up at noon.
“We like this show because it’s well run and a lot of fun,” said Ronnie Crowley of Dancy who brought a 560 Farmall tractor. “We’ve been coming here since 1990. We wouldn’t miss it for the world.
“I always find parts and meet people who can help me find parts for my old tractors,” said Crowley. “I don’t think people realize how many tourist this event bring to town every year. I see people I know from Alabama, the Delta and Tennessee here every year.”
And, as always, there were demonstrations of steam and diesel engines, hominy cooking, a working grist mill, lard rendering, lye soap processing and a host of other pioneer projects held in Joe Brigance Park.
For more information on the Mississippi Valley Flywheel Fall Festival Sept. 22-23, call the Chickasaw Development Foundation at (662)-456-2595.