Patriotism was clearly on display throughout the streets of Bullard last weekend, as the Bullard Area Chamber of Commerce hosted the 18th annual BACC Red, White, and Blue Festival Saturday, Nov. 4, in downtown Bullard.
“This year’s festival was an exciting journey that came to fruition well,” said Tiffany Fletcher, co-chair of the BACC Red, White, and Blue committee. “I’m excited to see the year’s worth of planning that has taken place and all the ideas and hard work put in by countless volunteers put into action.”
The 2017 version of the BACC Red, White, and Blue Festival received a warm welcome by community members and visitors alike, as thousands of attendees were in attendance throughout the day-long event.
In previous years, the annual festival faced difficulties, with a rain-soaked Bullard canceling many scheduled events in 2015, while the search for 10-year-old Kayla Gomez-Orozco forced BACC to cancel the event’s parade last year.
“It was great to see red, white, and blue flowing over Bullard once again,” said Fletcher. “To me, having this event make a strong comeback this year means the world because it shows me the community of Bullard still believes and wants to participate in this event. We’ve had circumstances beyond our control over the past two years, and that can sometimes leave a bad taste in the mouths of the community. However, this year’s event has been a renewal of hope, just to see the community come together and pitch in to make the event happen. It’s been awe-inspiring to watch people come together and make something wonderful happen, people who still believe in our nation, our military, and human spirit.”
To begin the 18th annual BACC Red, White, and Blue Festival, event planners welcomed a host of veterans, active duty personnel, and their families for the event’s Veterans Breakfast, held on the grounds of Bullard Southern Baptist Church. At the event, members of local Boy Scout Troop No. 366 and Cub Scout Pack No. 366 were on hand to serve the breakfast to America’s heroes.
“It was so nice to walk in and see all of the gentlemen who had served in our military sitting around, drinking coffee, and sharing war stories with one another,” said Fletcher. “When the Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts presented the color guard, you could see the veterans’ eyes getting misty; I think they remembered back to the time they were as young as those boys and dreaming of one day becoming a soldier, and what that meant to them. The nostalgia in the room definitely gave me goose bumps.”
After the breakfast event, attendees gathered along the streets of Bullard for the annual BACC Red, White, and Blue Day Parade event, featuring a number of floats and participation from such groups as Bullard ISD bands, the award-winning Bullard Belles, local churches, school organizations, politicians, and more.
Award winners in the 18th annual BACC Red, White, and Blue Festival parade included Pop’s Patriots, winning Most Original; the Bullard High School panther Band, winning Most Entertaining; ribbon winners BHS band (first place), Bullard Middle School band (second), and BMS cheer mascot (third); and Jim Wade’s American flag truck (first overall), and Bullard Family Dentistry’s military truck (second overall).
The annual Red, White, and Blue Veterans Ceremony was held immediately following the conclusion of the parade, with a total of three guest speakers sharing stories of their involvement with the military, including Grieg Latham, Wendy Venil, and Dr. Doug Haning. Throughout the ceremony, a large American flag draped over the audience and flew with the breeze of the wind from atop a ladder truck from the Flint-Gresham Fire Department.
Latham is the founder and managing director of Vehicle Reman in Tyler, which specializes in remanufacturing fleet vehicles to save money and the environment. He is a Distinguished Military Graduate and graduated on the Commandant’s List from the Armor School in Fort Knox, Kent.
Wenil is a United States Marine Corps, previously working as a postal clerk at the Marine Corps’ Air Station in El Toro, Calif. from 1983 to 1985. She spends her spare time with an organization that she helped co-found, The Rose City Women’s Veterans Association, with the mission to educate the community through outreach programs, including acknowledging and honoring fellow female veterans.
Haning is the founding pastor of Lone Star Church in Tyler, as well as the founder of the Chaplain Emergency Response Team in Smith County. He is a veteran of the Marine Corps Reserve, making him a fourth-generation veteran.
Throughout the festival, attendees were able to peruse through local vendor booths, purchasing goodies all day long from many whom call Bullard their hometown. Also at the event were a number of food trucks catering to the appetites of those in attendance.
A new feature added to this year’s event in order to keep the festival entertaining for both children and parents was the military obstacle course, an addition Fletcher said received rave reviews.
“When we were sitting around and thinking up of things to do for children, we thought the carnival that we had previously was not something we wanted to do anymore,” said Fletcher. “We really looked at going back to basics, and then we thought of the military obstacle course, an attraction where we could show kids firsthand of what it’s like going through a military obstacle course. The children were able to interact with several military members, who graciously volunteered their time, and were able to check off the various obstacles they conquered and even sign up for a chance to win a prize afterwards. We wanted everyone to remember that this was a family festival, and we wanted to keep them occupied and let them have some fun, as well.”
The new military obstacle course featured a number of activities, including a military-themed obstacle course with a rope crawl, 3D string maze, target shooting with NERF guns, tire agility race, extreme obstacle course bounce house, sumo wrestling suits, and more.
Throughout the festival, attendees were allowed to showcase their talents and abilities in the new Red, White, and Blue Festival’s Performing Arts Jubilee, as well as listen to a musical soundtrack provided by a radio remote with Charlie O from 104.1 FM The Ranch and local disc jockey Chris Green.
Also attending the event and entertaining patrons was Korn Pop the Clown, memorizing festival-goers with this professionally-made balloon animals and amazing magic tricks.
The annual event wrapped up with a flag retirement ceremony, with the help of members of local Boy Scout Troop No. 366, in front of Bullard City Hall, allowing residents to bring old American flags to the event and be properly disposed.
Sponsors for the 18th annual BACC Red, White, and Blue Festival included BACC, the City of Bullard, CAPCO Engineering, Campbell Custom homes, Austin Bank, the State Farm Insurances Offices of Tom McDonald and Shawn Dunn, WRL General Contractors, Capps-Capco Construction, Brookshire’s, Bullard Southern Baptist Church, Express Tires, Bullard Banner News, Whataburger, Morris Timber, Heritage Land Bank, Big Kahuna Indoor Parties, ServPro of Tyler, Amazing Exteriors, Card My Yard, Boy Scouts of America, Bullard Family Dentistry, Hodges Benefits LLC, Kiepersol, All Home Infusion, Star of Texas Chiropractic Clinic, Texas National Bank, Glo-Flame Butane, and Cherokee County Electric Cooperative Association.