Local citizens are coming together under the slogan ‘Share The Vision’ to plan an historic event in Bridge City. The inaugural Bridge City Heritage Festival will be held on Saturday, Oct. 1, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on the grounds of the Community Center. The event will feature performances from area bands, carnival rides, arcade games, food, a photogenic contest, arts and more.

The Bridge City Heritage Festival is being hosted by the Historical Museum of Bridge City, a nonprofit charitable organization formed in 2009 to help preserve local history and enhance tourism. Proceeds raised from the festival will go toward the future waterfront park on Cow Bayou in Bridge City.

Headlining the live entertainment is country music star Britt Godwin. Bands will begin performing when the gates open with Cajun and country music, oldies, rock, religious and solo performances from area groups.

The carnival will begin on Thursday prior to the festival. The carnival rides will be unlimited through Saturday with the purchase of a entry bracelet. The bracelets will become available for pre-sale two weeks in advance through local businesses and individuals.

“We all share a vision for Bridge City and it’s great coming together for a common cause. The waterfront park will benefit our hometown in so many ways,” said Paige Williams, chairwoman for the event.

Vendor and booth space is currently available. Craft and exhibit vendors will be within the Community Center with performances by local dance studios, a tai kwon do exhibition, and style shows by area clothing retailers. There will also be an ongoing slide show of photographs from Bridge City yesteryear. Food booths will be outdoors.

The festival will also feature an antique and classic car show and all day bingo with door prizes for the winners. There will also be a photogenic contest for newborns to 18 years old. Entry fee is $10 and non-professional photos are required.

A beer garden is being provided by Giglio Distributing Co. of Beaumont and will be near the band stand. Dancing will be in the pavilion.

“We will also have silent auction offering an acoustic guitar autographed by Lady Antebellum,” Williams said, “Also an original decorative cross by Robin’s Nest, an overnight Dixie Landin’ Theme Park and Blue Bayou Water Park pass for four with dinner and hotel accommodations, and the list is growing.”

A children’s area at the festival will include games, a coin toss, duck pond, ring toss, milk bottle baseball throw, Plinko and a cow patty throw.

The future ‘Bridge City Heritage Park’ will adjoin the Cow Bayou Swing Bridge. The rare swing bridge was listed to the National Register of Historic Places in 2010. The property will also be the home of the ‘Gisela and Tony Houseman Nature and Heritage Center,’ an over 4,000 square foot facility on piers overlooking the property. A portion of the facility will be devoted to Bridge City history and heritage.

The master plan for the park and the visitors center is currently being designed by renowned Bridge City based architect Mark Magnuson and his firm Mark Magnuson & Associates Inc.
“The festival is a way of bringing visitors to Bridge City, celebrate local history and raise funds to help make the waterfront park a reality,” Williams said. Blocks of room for festival goers are being offered at special rates from La Quinta and Econolodge in Bridge City. Williams foresees a time when future festivals will be held on the site of the waterfront park.

Last April, Gisela Houseman became a partner in the project placing the property within reach of the fund raising efforts of the Historical Museum of Bridge City. Ms. Houseman also proposed to build the large multi-purpose facility there and donate it to the organization. The Historical Museum of Bridge City had taken a lead role in acquiring the property. Total cost for the entire project, including development, is still to be determined. The initial goal of the nonprofit is to raise $250,000 to complete the purchase of the land. The City of Bridge City will be the eventual property owner and maintain the park.

According to Mark Dunn, president of the organization, once the master plan is completed a Capitol Campaign will be launched seeking donors, grants and all available funding from industry, corporations and individuals. A special account has been set up at Bridge City Bank for donations to the waterfront park project. All donations are tax deductible including materials and labor.

As proposed, the waterfront park on Cow Bayou would be ideal for numerous recreational and educational activities. It would include an amphitheater, playgrounds, a broad boardwalk along the bulkhead, period style lighting throughout the park and along the shoreline, covered picnic tables, walking trails, floral gardens and concessions. The park will have access for boaters.

The Gisela and Tony Houseman Nature and Heritage Center will house the vast Tony and Gisela Houseman collection of art, photography, artifacts and wildlife trophies from around the world. The facility is intended to provide the children of Southeast Texas an opportunity to learn about conservation, wildlife and it’s natural habitat.

Booth prices for the festival start at $40 for craft and exhibit vendors inside the Community Center. Food vendors will be assembled outdoors and start at $65. There are several different sizes for both, electrical and non-electrical.

For more information about the Bridge City Heritage Festival contact Paige Williams at 409-670-3192 or e-mail the organization, info@bridgecityhistory.com. The Historical Museum of Bridge City also has a Facebook page. To enter a child or teenager in the photogenic contest contact Tracey Broussard at 409-344-2341.

About Nicole Gibbs

Editor of The Record Newspapers