Festival with a bite: Marshall's 35th annual Fire Ant Festival - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Festival with a bite: Marshall's 35th annual Fire Ant Festival

Original Mascots Freddy and Elvira. KLTV photo. Original Mascots Freddy and Elvira. KLTV photo.
MARSHALL, TX (KLTV) -

It’s festival time in East Texas, and they’re named after everything from A to at least Y. The Y being Yams, and the A being ants, as in this weekend's Fire Ant Festival in Marshall. 

Generally when you see fire ants you don’t think it’s much of a party, and certainly not very festive, but if you preface it with Marshall and end it with festival, that’s just a mound of fun for the whole family.

Stormy Nickerson with the Marshall Chamber of Commerce is all about ants this time of year.

“You can always find something to do, something to enjoy. Whether it’s the great vendors, delicious food, and some of the great crazy contests,” Nickerson said.

Like the Gurning Contest.

“If you don’t know what that is, you can always look it up,” Nickerson suggested.

It involves putting your head through a toilet seat.

The whole family can do a little competing with things like the Diaper Derby, a crawling race, and what Caylin Fisher is signing her son Cruz up for: the toddler trot.

“He loves to run all the time,” Fisher said.

“So he’s going to be cruising,” I offered.

“Oh yeah, he’s going to be cruising,” she agreed.

The festival mascots Freddy and Elvira, and now Sugar and Anthony will be on hand, although hopefully not literally. That could be painful but:

“There’s no biting,” Nickerson said.

“Well he has no mandible,” I observed about Freddy’s head.

“No,” Nickerson laughed.

Not so sure about all the other fire ants hanging out at the Marshall Chamber of Commerce though.

“I have to ask: Why fire ants?”

“Well, that was actually the brainchild of George Smith, the former publisher at the Marshall News Messenger. He said emphatically if I named it the azalea festival, is anybody really going to come years later?” Nickerson explained.

He seemed to be right. Stormy has been fielding calls all week.

“Thank you ma’am, bye-bye,” she said hanging up the phone.

 So if you’re feeling antsy, head for downtown Marshall October 14. And remember the big ones are fine, but always watch out for the little fire ants.

The 35 annual festival is Saturday only. For more information click here.

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