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Rain dampens Gatorfest opening

Two days left for alligator education, celebration

ANAHUAC — The few early visitors to Texas Gatorfest 2015 Friday night didn’t seem to mind the fresh mud or the occasional slip and slide walking through the vendors’ market.

They wandered through Fort Anahuac Park, watching as vendors finished setting up their wares and cooks fired up their grills. The early worms had the park to themselves for nearly an hour before large groups of people started arriving together.

As more groups and full families slowly arrived, the muddy patches expanded and the puddles started to swallow pieces of the walkway. But the community came prepared to walk through a seemingly expanding marsh. Instead of turning around and going home, they waded through the water — perfectly at home in the “Alligator Capital of Texas.”

Visitors take to the Trinity River Delta Marsh in one of the first airboat rides for Texas Gatorfest 2015 in Anahuac Friday night.

Visitors take to the Trinity River Delta Marsh in one of the first airboat rides for Texas Gatorfest 2015 in Anahuac Friday night.

“We knew it would be wet out here, but we never miss Gatorfest,” Carter Johnson, 32, said. “We just pulled on boots, waders — whatever we could find to stay dry and not fall in the mud — and came out to hear the bands.”

Johnson said he and his family would take advantage of the short — or more often, nonexistent — lines for the Carnival rides before seeing Wayne Toups headline on the Beer Garden Stage.

“We won’t stay long tonight, but we’ll be here all day tomorrow,” Johnson said. “We’ll be out here at least 12 hours — rain or shine, mud or no mud. It’s just a good time for the whole family. You can’t let the weather keep you from enjoying that.”

Sierra Rodgers, 24, said she was canvassing the festival grounds before bringing her family to Gatorfest this weekend.

“My main goal tonight is to find the (Alligator Education) Tent where the demonstrations are going to be, find the booths for the airboat rides, check on ticket prices for rides and — obviously — check out all the food,” Rodgers said, laughing. “My husband and I will come with our daughter, my sister will be there with her kids, my parents are coming out, my sister-in-law will bring her family — it’s going to be everybody.

“We used to all come and just wander around, but now one person goes on opening night and takes it all in. I’ll report back to dad later and he’ll come up with the plan for the weekend. It’s serious — and if I have to taste every stick of fried alligator to find the best one, I’ll just have to do it for the family,” she added, laughing.

Texas Gatorfest 2015 opening night visitors enjoy the first performance of the “Tumbleweed Crossing Wild West Show” in Anahuac Friday evening.

Texas Gatorfest 2015 opening night visitors enjoy the first performance of the “Tumbleweed Crossing Wild West Show” in Anahuac Friday evening.

Texas Gatorfest 2015 will resume Saturday, from 10 a.m. to midnight. Sunday festival hours are noon to 6 p.m.

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