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Weekend Ticket: Gatorfest to celebrate Texas’ favorite reptile

Sarah Cerrone said if there’s one thing that brings the people of Anahuac together, it’s the American alligator.

Cerrone said once a year, the community transforms 24 acres of Fort Anahuac Park — nested in the self-identified “Alligator Capital of Texas” — into the festival grounds for Texas Gatorfest.

“This has really become the staple of Anahuac,” Cerrone, Texas Gatorfest general chairman, said Friday. “We’re passionate about it to say the least. We’ve got about 800 volunteer slots filled out of a town of 2,200, so this is something the community gets behind and supports too.”

Weekend TicketCerrone said Texas Gatorfest 2015, a three-day celebration that kicks off at 6 p.m. Friday, is the place to get your gator fix — from live baby hatchlings to the fried on-a-stick variety.

“Every year, we have three ‘do not miss’ events: the Alligator Education Tent, the Great Texas Alligator Roundup and the airboat rides across the marsh,” Cerrone said. “The Alligator Education Tent has the largest live alligator display in the state, provided by Texas Parks and Wildlife. The Texas Parks and Wildlife staff will be on hand to help visitors handle the alligators tell you everything you could possibly want to know about alligators — ever.”

The Alligator Education Tent is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and from noon to 6 p.m. Sunday.

“The Great Texas Alligator Roundup is for all of our hunters to bring in their harvest for the year,” Cerrone said. “Our hunters come in from all over the state to show off their catch and compete for cash prizes based on length. The state record is 14 feet and three inches — ours is 13 feet and 11 inches. Listen for your cue to come check it out —when you hear the air horn, it means someone just brought in a really big gator.”

The Great Texas Alligator Roundup is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and from noon to 6 p.m. Sunday.

Cerrone said the airboat rides take visitors on a five-minute tour through the Trinity River Delta Marsh. Visitors must be 36 inches tall to ride and children under 12 must wear a life jacket while on the boat.

Airboat rides are available for $14 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, and from noon to 6 p.m. Sunday.

Daily entertainment includes live bands on the Beer Garden stage, the “Tumbleweed Crossing Wild West Show,” Carnival rides, merchant vendors, and food and drink booths in the Beer Garden.

Festival hours are from 6 p.m. to midnight Friday, 10 a.m. to midnight Saturday, and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday.

General admission is $15. Kids 5 to 12, seniors 65 and older, and active military personnel tickets are $5. Children under 5 get in free.

Texas Gatorfest 2015 is in Fort Anahuac Park, located at 1704 S. Main St. in Anahuac. Parking at the festival grounds is $10 per day.

For more information and to view the full schedule of events, visit www.texasgatorfest.com.

Twitter: @crhenderson90