Pecan Fest food is a big draw for first-time and long-time vendors alike

Published 4:40 pm Saturday, November 5, 2016

That unique blend of barbequed meats, powdered sugar and deep fry batter is virtually a hallmark of any carnival that one goes to — and it was no exception in Groves on Saturday.

The 2016 Groves Pecan Festival celebrated its 47th year with the theme “Fun in a Nutshell,” and apparently that fun was just as edible as the nutshell itself if the number and variety of food vendors at the event was any indication.

Kent and Jennifer Guidry own and operate Piggin’ Out, the food stall that specializes in a Pecan Festival staple — the pork-a-bob.

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“These are pork shoulders, or what’s called Boston Butt Roast,” Guidry said of the line of pork cooking over an open grill.

“We season and marinate them for 24 hours and put them on a stick and cook it to perfection.”

Guidry and his wife process and handle the meat themselves.

“We’ve been coming out here for about 18 years,” Guidry said of Piggn’ Out’s history with the Pecan Festival.

As for why he thought the pork-a-bobs were such a favorite of festivalgoers, Guidry chalked it up to heritage.

“It’s more of a Cajun food we cook here,” Guidry said. “A lot of our kinfolk were born and raised in Louisiana.

“So, it has a Cajun background as far as pork goes. It’s popular in Southeast Texas.”

When asked about his favorite, non-pork related food item at the Pecan Festival,

“It’s the crawfish pistolette,” Guidry said. “Their stand is just three booths away from here. They’re really good.”

If one wanted something sweet to wash the pork meat down with, one only had to go around the bend of other food stalls to Wild West Soda for a sugary beverage.

“It’s our first year here,” Gary Clark, co-owner, said.

“My wife heard about this show — that it was pretty good and that a lot of people attend it. We (asked) about it, and then they asked if we could come.”

Wild West Soda sells homemade sodas.

“We make homemade drinks,” Clark said. “We use real sugar, not that artificial fructose stuff, and we use some really good vanilla in our drinks.”

Clark credited the homemade recipe to a friend.

“A friend of mine had the recipe. It was passed down from generation to generation in his family,” Clark said.

“It was an old-time recipe and it’s perfect for an old-fashioned soda fountain.”

Clark was positive about his first time at the Pecan Festival.

“It’s been a really good response and we did really well yesterday,” Clark said.

According to Clark, Wild West Soda’s biggest sellers have been homemade root beer and cream soda.

For other sweet treats, Susan’s Candy Land was just a walk across the festival grounds.

At their booth, sweets such as cotton candy, caramel apples and popcorn were being sold.

“It’s my first year being here with (Susan’s),” Sarah Turner, vendor, said. “I love it here. I grew up in Indiana and around the carnival scene.”

When asked why she thought the booth was so popular with patrons, Turner answered,

“Because it’s nothing but sugar.”

If a festivalgoer wanted something more filling, the Kick’N Cajun Chicken On-A-Stick stand was located further behind it, with food vendor Bo Smart working the front.

It was Smart’s first time working the Pecan Festival and he said, “It’s been pretty good.”

At his stand, meaty fare like chicken on a stick, Polish sausage, giant hot dogs and hamburgers were being sold to consumers.

“I think the sausage and the chicken are the ones that sell the most,” Smart said.

Even Groves establishments like Clayboy’s Barbeque Pit Stop were set up at the festival, selling some of their local staples.

“The food’s just to bring everyone together and to have fun,” Curtis Vincent, worker at the Clayboy’s stall, said about the special appeal of carnival food and treats.