Rabbit Fest hops into town with cooler temperatures
By PAMELA GRANT
The 37th annual Rabbit Fest was filled with food, fun, and family-friendly entertainment, and for the most part, Texas’ fickle weather cooperated.
Although Rabbit Fest is known for taking place during extreme weather, it still maintains its title of Copperas Cove’s biggest event of the year. Each third weekend in May, the festival runs from Thursday until Sunday, when an estimated 30,000 attend annually—enjoying rides, vendors, and entertainment provided by live performers.
This year, event-goers didn’t let stormy weather—or the threat of it—dampen their weekend fun. Despite some rain in the early a.m. hours Saturday, a steady stream of vehicles lined Avenue B waiting to enter the park.
“It’s a lot bigger than I expected. I wondered where all the rabbits were, but it’s very exciting,” said Joell Blankenship. Blankenship lives in California and just happened to be in the area while visiting her daughter and grandchildren. “She loves the funnel cakes,” said Blankenship, pointing to her daughter. “I like the new rides. They have rides I’ve never seen before. I’m just checking out everything. I’m very happy I got to come.”
The park was filled with a variety of vendors selling creative crafts, advertising their businesses, spreading awareness, and selling delicious food. Not only that, but there were dozens of rides as well, from roller coasters, a Ferris Wheel, Swing It, the YoYo and more.
In addition to the carnival rides, the festival also offered many kid friendly options such as bounce houses, a petting zoo, and pony rides.
One of the main attractions on Saturday only was a photo opportunity with Disney characters Mater and Lightning McQueen from the movie “Cars”.
Jno G. Lewis Lodge #622 hosted the Rabbit Fest Car Show for the third year. The car show was held by the City Park Pool and featured categories like Grand Champion, Classic/Antique, Best Bike, Best Truck, and more.
Marcus Smith, the chairman of the Car Show Committee, said that the money raised at the event will go towards future charitable events held by the group, such as their back-to-school event.
Although the rain did deter some from participating in the car show, many still showed up to show off their metallic beauties and compete for a good cause.
“Everyone knows what we do for the community, some people come out just because they know 100% of what they put in goes back to the community. Even if only two cars show up, it’s still a success for us,” said Smith.
“I do Rabbit Fest every year. I’ve been in Cove for 13 years. Even if I wasn’t here for the car show, I’d still be here,” said Smith. “It’s fun. I eat. I’m here for the food.”
Smith wasn’t the only one there for the food. Dozens of vendors sold food ranging from the everyday, like hotdogs, lemonade, and chicken legs, to the more unusual, like alligator meat and deep-friend Snickers.
In addition to the food vendors, they also had a variety of vendors selling their own creative crafts. Becky and Beau Anders ran the Sweet B & B Hummingbird Feeders booth where the two sold homemade hummingbird feeders. Beau made the feeders using copper wire, test tubes, and artificial flowers for decoration. The two hail from an area in Arizona where hummingbirds are very common.
“I enjoy being around people, and educating people about hummingbirds,” said Beau, who also offered a helpful tip for hummingbird fans, “Do not put red dye in hummingbird feeders. It’s very harmful to [the birds].”
Live entertainment was provided throughout the weekend. Saturday had the most performances with entertainment provided by Fierce Pierce Gymnastics and Cheer, JC Stringz, and Storm’s I. There were martial arts demonstrations by Absolute Self Defense BJJ and Self Defense America. The Central Texas Belly Dance Association performed as well.
“This is fabulous, we love to be involved,” said Rebecca Clark, a member of the Central Texas Belly Dance Association, who performed with her fellow belly dancers on Saturday. “We love doing things for the community.”
Emett Hare attended the event with his wife, Amber Hare, and three of their children, Ember (6), Avery (6), and Josie (7).
“It’s the only festival Cove has where you can enjoy rides, an assortment of face painting, good vendors, and overpriced food,” said Emett Hare. “It’s perfect. It’s a good place for families and a great place to make memories.”
Hare added that he’s looking forward to seeing how Rabbit Fest continues to grow and evolve in the future.
On Saturday morning, the annual Rabbit Fest parade diverted from its usual route and wove its way through downtown Copperas Cove to a lineup of spectators, waving American flags distributed by the Morning Exchange Club, viewed a variety of marching units, floats and vehicles that passed by.
Leading the way was parade Grand Marshal Edna Teinert, age 106, who is Copperas Cove’s oldest resident.