(KLTV/KTRE) - Since 1983, the town of Golden has had its Sweet Potato Festival in October. The quaint town is located in Wood County, at the intersection of FM 1799 and FM 779, about four miles from Mineola.
Golden is fairly famous for the plentiful, delicious sweet potatoes that are farmed there. Even celebrities like Oprah Winfrey and Kacey Musgraves, a native of the area, love Golden sweet potatoes. Those potatoes feature prominently in the sweet potato baking contest, which has been judged by East Texas Kitchen’s Mama Steph for the past four years. Bakers turn in scratch-made items such as sweet potato bars, cakes, pies, and even savory items like soup. The winner gets a cash prize each year.
Related: Sweet potato recipes for you to try at home:
The town’s glory days were in the late 1800s, when it was founded after a railroad track ran through the area between Mineola and Greenville. The town had churches, a cotton gin, two sawmills, several stores, a bank, a school, a vineyard, and its own post office, according to the Sweet Potato Festival website.
Its peak population was around 650, historic sites say, but the Great Depression forced the closure of the bank and many businesses. The population dwindled from 650 before the depression, to fewer than 200 currently. However, the town is still famous for its sweet potatoes, and the annual Golden Sweet Potato Festival is a favorite among Texans looking for fun in a friendly small town.
The festival takes place during the fourth week of October, each year since 1982. The initial purpose was to raise money for its community center’s upkeep. Now the festival raises funds to volunteer fire departments, scholarships, Meals on Wheels, and the Special Kids’ Farm and Ranch Day, according to the festival website.
The festival offers non-stop fun: livestock competition, pageants, mutton bustin’, 5K run, parade, horseshoe tournament, baking and photography contests, live and silent auctions, dance, and a special appearance from Miss Texas.