Eightieth Yamboree: More than just a festival

Eightieth Yamboree: More than just a festival

GILMER, TX (KLTV) - After a 5-year weevil quarantine was lifted from the crop of area sweet potato farmers, citizens of Gilmer were so excited they threw a festival, and they've been doing it nearly every year since. It started in 1935, then took a break during WWII, but has been going every year since 1946.

Bobby Morgan graduated from Gilmer High School in 1960, and he says he's been going to the festival at least that long.

"It's gotten better. It's gotten bigger," Morgan said.

He missed a few years but he thinks the festival is a good idea.

"It's not a bad deal to get whole communities together," Morgan offered.

He says the yam is a worthy vegetable and the best way to eat a sweet potato is to:

"Bake it and peel it and slice it open and put some butter in there. That's my favorite way to eat them," Morgan revealed.

"So nothing fancy in there, just butter," I said.

"Just butter and that's all," Morgan said.

He says his favorite parts of the Yamboree Parade are the marching bands.

"So the yam deserves to be celebrated," I said.

"Yes. The yam is all right. It's all right," Morgan agreed.

Straight across the street from Bobby, Darlene Anthony sat with her family enjoying the parade as she has for:

"About fifty-some years," Anthony said.

"Do you think it's a good thing to celebrate the farmer like this does?" I asked her.

"Oh yes, oh yes," she smiled.

She may be a little biased. She is a farmer as was her husband. So many now attend the Yamboree since nearby schools are closed, which means lot of the kids can be in the parade. The festival has sort of become a:

"Reunion type deal for families getting together over the years," Morgan said.

"Yes it is. That's what we've always thought about," Anthony agreed.

"Once a year they'll come up her and bring their grand kids and ride the rides, the slides and everything," Morgan said.

Darlene and Bobby met with family to watch the parade. And Morgan said hello to a fellow baseball player from his high school days.

So the appreciation of the yam and those who grow it, is more than the celebration of orange roots, it now goes back to area resident's roots.

There is another parade in downtown Gilmer Saturday at 11 with floats featuring the Yamboree Queen and her court. If you'd like more information on the Yamboree click here.

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