Nederland Heritage updates pageant, passports & festival timelines

Published 12:36 am Tuesday, October 5, 2021

NEDERLAND — Applications to the Nederland Heritage Festival Pageants are available now.

The deadline to enter is Nov. 19, and the pageants are Feb. 4-5 with eight age groups and a Little Boy and Little Girl winner in 1- and 2-year-old age group.

Barring an unforeseen roadblock, the Nederland Heritage Festival returns March 15-20, 2022, following a COVID-cancelation in 2021.

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It can’t come soon enough for festival executive director Shannon Hemby, who told Port Arthur Newsmedia her office receives 15 calls a day about the event, many just checking to make sure the next one is on track.

“I am just hoping we can remember where everything belongs,” Hemby joked. “Missing one year is like, ‘I hope there are things we don’t forget.’”

Thankfully, Hemby said, the festival’s army of volunteers is committed and performing plenty of work behind the scenes.

Cards for the unlimited carnival ride passports have been ordered, and prices are being negotiated with GoldStar Amusements. Festival officials plan to begin selling passports Nov. 1.

One of the festival’s most anticipated draws is the wide selection of quality food vendors.

This attraction was made more customer-friendly in 2020 with the introduction of a paved food court that helped accommodate 20 booths with space for patrons to walk and a covered seating area for attendees.

The festival is vital to food vendors, which are made up from community nonprofit organizations that count on the revenue generated each Spring.

Carl Hbubach with Port Arthur Little Theater said his organization has been participating for more than a dozen years, selling Scottish eggs, sno-cones, chicken, desserts and drinks.

“(The money made) probably represents, on a good year, about 40 percent of our income,” Hbubach said. “It allows us to do enhancements around the theater. We make enough on our shows to keep the lights on and things like that, but we don’t really (generate) the income to do enhancements like new doors, ceilings or new roof work.”

Hbubach said the theater cut back expenses in 2020 and focused on covering the utilities and insurance while performing a show schedule that reduced the number of production personnel.

“We reduced the capacity in our theater to whatever the state said we had to do. We were able to get by and did not do a musical that year,” said Hbubach, adding the theater’s 2022 food vendor applications were already filed for the Heritage Festival and RiverFest.

According to Hemby, once food vendors sign up in Nederland, they rarely fall off due to the event’s popularity.

The executive board goes over food items in detail.

Booths have to request a certain food item if they want to change, Hemby said. “Everything has to be approved by us, because we don’t want all the booths selling the exact same thing,” she said. “We want a variety.”

A Jan. 18 mixer is planned at 5:30 p.m. at the Nederland Heritage Festival Pavilion to celebrate a book dedication, honor a deserving volunteer and name a new Mr. Nederland.

For more information, log onto or call 409-724-2269.