BULLARD, TX - With festivities set to begin immediately, festival organizers say this will be the best Red, White, and Blue Festival ever.
A record crowd of visitors is expected in Bullard to view the Traveling Wall, a replica of the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial Wall, and to participate in the weeklong schedule of events.
Now is the time to volunteer, say organizers.
"Even if you have never volunteered for Red, White and Blue before now, this is the year to jump in," said Veteran Hospitality Co-chairman Cathy Krafve.
The main purpose of the event is to make it easy for veterans to connect with the services that are available to them and to have a fun, family-friendly experience, celebrating freedom, according to Krafve.
"We will see a record number of veteran's service organizations out on our green this year. The Texas Veterans Land Board, the VA Clinic, the Red Cross's Military Resource Center, and Smith County's Veteran Services Department will all have booths, to name a few," she said.
Familiar faces will be returning, including Welcome Home Soldiers, Patriot Guard Riders and the Jacksonville VFW, in what organizers say is a unified effort to get services to America's heroes.
The Ministerial Alliance is planning an inspirational evening of thanksgiving in a Candlelight Vigil on Wednesday night at 6:30 on the Town Green. Leo Berman will be the speaker.
Vietnam Veterans have over the years been extremely involved in the festival, so organizers expect the Ride Of Honor Ceremony to be especially poignant. It is scheduled for Friday at 5:30pm in front of the Traveling Wall. That ceremony will include a patriotic salute as motorcycle riders pass before the Traveling Wall, followed by an opportunity to touch the names of fallen heroes listed.
"The RWB Executive Committee was especially happy to have the opportunity to honor our Vietnam heroes. They are often our most devoted volunteers when it comes to honoring the current generation of service men and women, so this gives us great pleasure," said Krafve.
The American Freedom Museum will be open to the public on Saturday and busses are scheduled to transport visitors from the Green to Brook Hill. The museum, along with Texas National Bank and Brookshire's, is hosting a special Open House for Sponsors to thank them for making this year's festivities possible.
The Friends of the Library, area churches, and businesses are gearing up with special floats for the parade, which will happen on Saturday at 10am right down Main Street, with KLTV's Morgan Chesky emceeing the parade.
Both Bullard High School and Brook Hill will be represented, along with numerous veteran groups, and area Boy Scouts.
Over 2,000 area school children are scheduled to tour the Wall and other exhibits from American Veterans Traveling Tribute, or AVTT, sponsored by Allied Waste, providing students with an oversight of the way American heroes have served their country at great sacrifice, according to organizers.
"We are so thankful to AVTT, the Traveling Wall people, for having the foresight to create an extensive exhibit that travels to towns across America and to our friends at Allied Waste. What a perfect way for children to appreciate the freedom we enjoy in America," Krafve said.
Keynote speaker Congressman Louie Gohmert will be on the Center Stage Saturday for the Ceremony Honoring Veterans, followed by a full slate of musicians, entertaining for the rest of the day. Performances by area dance and cultural groups are on tap throughout the day, along with a Car Show, vendor and food booths, and a carnival.