, Port Arthur, Texas


March 14, 2014

Petting zoo 'hopping' at Nederland Heritage Festival

NEDERLAND — The Nederland Heritage Festival was bustling with activity early Friday evening, with Noah’s Way Exotic Petting Zoo at the center of it all.

“It’s hopping,” festival manager Wanda Hollier said.

Crowds flocked to the pen where a kangaroo hopped, a zebra grazed on grass, and an Asian water buffalo roamed — all right there on Boston Avenue.

Kylee Noble, 2, sat astride a brown pony while mom Maggie, of Nederland, held the reins.

“She loves horses,” Maggie Noble said.

Madison Gardiner, 2, also had a turn on the pony. Madison and her parents, Tim and Rebecca, were attending the festival for the first time after recently moving to Sour Lake from Houston.

After attending packed events in Houston, Rebecca Gardiner said she found the Nederland Heritage Festival refreshing.

“Houston has the rodeo and other big events, but nothing like this,” she said. “I love small-town festivals.”

The goats weren’t shy about accepting food from strangers, often directly approaching festivalgoers in pursuit of treats.

“The other animals will eventually get full,” Hollier said. “The goats will just keep on eating.”

Often, the goats would take a break from hunting to perch on the shell of Tank the Tortoise — who, at 20 years old and 75 lbs., still has at least 10 years of growing ahead of him, Darren Reeves, who works with the petting zoo in Salado, said.

The kangaroo, Maddie, proved an elusive target, out-hopping any who dared.  All the action proved too much for the zoo’s youngest inhabitant — a baby goat, born Thursday at the festival.

“We had the blessing of a new baby,” Hollier said.

The tiny brown animal eventually sought refuge behind a donkey at the farthest corner of the pen. Tasked with naming the baby, Hollier has christened him “Nuff,” after the Nederland Bulldog mascot.

Hollier said she hoped to have Noah’s Way return to next year’s festival, but for now, she has eyes only for this year.

“We’re looking forward to a big day tomorrow,” Hollier said, referring to the festival’s parade that begins Saturday at 10 a.m. and runs from Nederland Avenue, to 21st Street, to Twin City Highway, to Boston Avenue.

Thus far, the weather has cooperated. Rain is forecasted to begin late Saturday evening, but Hollier isn’t thinking about that.

“We don’t say that word around here,” she said.


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