Rabbit Fest 2018 salutes decades of tradition

By LYNETTE SOWELL
Cove Leader-Press 

The 38th annual Rabbit Fest is now in the history books, with the rains holding off until Sunday morning.
This year’s festival began with an opening ceremony on Thursday evening that hailed to the festival’s roots. 
The Copperas Cove Chamber of Commerce extended special invitations to members of the original festival planning committee, with Doc Hrncir, April Fitzgerald, Jim and Jane French, Sherry Hoffpauir, Sharon Tabor, and Dianne Campbell in attendance. Each were recognized with a special plaque acknowledging their role in helping create the annual Copperas Cove tradition. 
“These are the people who paved the way for rabbit fest, a great 38-year tradition in Copperas Cove,” said J.C. Stubbs, chairman of the board of the Copperas Cove Chamber of Commerce. 
Doc Hrncir spoke for a few moments on the festival’s creation, which happened after his return to Copperas Cove in 1979. He had been stationed in Germany for several years and while there, he and his family had attended Oktoberfest. When returning to Copperas Cove, Hrncir said they were delighted to see that the Knights of Columbus had an Oktoberfest.
It was during Oktoberfest that Hrncir met Jim French. The two got to talking, he said, and the Oktoberfest event was so successful, they discussed doing a similar event in the spring. 
“Well, it’s spring, let’s have a rabbit fest, Easter time and spring,’ Jim said. I said, ‘There’s no rabbits around here,’ and he said, ‘There’s dozens of rabbit growers in the area.’ 
“Next thing we knew, our first chair, Jackie Lamonte came on board and said, ‘Let’s have rabbit fest.’ She started it and got it going.
“It was amazing what it has grown into. Cove Saddle Club used to have a rodeo. We had an autocross in downtown Copperas Cove, the last one in the U.S. have it in the city like that.”
Hrncir thanked the citizens of Copperas Cove for supporting the festival through the years. 
Prior to the opening ceremony, Copperas Cove Mayor Frank Seffrood carried the United States flag as he along with the CCHS JROTC Bulldog Battalion came running toward Fester’s House. They were followed by the S.C. Lee and Copperas Cove Junior High cheerleaders prior to the ceremony’s kickoff. 
Fester’s House was the location for entertainment throughout the weekend. 
Thousands attended the festival this year, the largest event for the Copperas Cove Chamber of Commerce and the largest in the city of Copperas Cove. 
On Friday evening, the Five Hills Scholarship Pageant royalty were introduced and each of them shared about their platforms of service for the year. 
On Saturday, the festival had a fresh lineup of entertainment throughout the day which ended with a dance. 
The Copperas Cove Parks & Recreation Department held an adult kickball tournament which began Friday, with teams divided into pools for play Friday evening, as well as play that went into Saturday evening. The tournament was the start of this year’s adult kickball league.
The Rabbit Fest rabbit show, an official American Rabbit Breeders Association event, had a total of 130 rabbits compete on Saturday morning. 
Also on Saturday morning, 23 entries participated in the annual parade held along Avenue D and traveled through downtown Copperas Cove. 
In addition to the Five Hills royalty, other pageant queens from Central Texas showed off their sparkle to include Young Miss Texas 2018 Leslie Lindholm, and the court of the Holland Corn Festival. 
Mounted units this year included the Five Hills Cowboy Church and the Centex Saddle Club. 
Sunday morning began with thunderstorms in Copperas Cove and the surrounding areas. 
The carnival’s midway had lines which ebbed and flowed, throughout the weekend, many taking advantage of the ride-all-you-want wristbands. 

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