Officials share excitement, tremendous pre-event support for 50th Nederland Heritage Festival

Published 12:36 am Wednesday, February 15, 2023

NEDERLAND — For Grace Baber, every day of the Nederland Heritage Festival is filled with fun and entertainment for the whole family.

There’s so much going on during the March 14-19 events it’s hard to choose a favorite, she said.

“I tell people if you can’t come out but one day, come on Saturday,” Baber said. “It starts with the parade, which leads to the Chili Cook-off, which leads to the Car and Motorcycle Show, which leads to the carnival. There are bands that night, and the craft market is open all day. It’s a blast. We love it.”

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Baber has been a volunteer with the NHF since 2000, and the 2023 NHF Program was dedicated to her. She started off working with another lady at the festival, then hanging out, then finally volunteering.

This year marks the 50th year for the hometown festival. Baber considers it like a reunion where everyone gets together.

Nederland Heritage Festival Chairman Kasey Taylor anticipates large crowds this year.

Taylor said the Passports to Fun sold out a month early, the craft market spots are sold out and all of the non-profit food vendor spots are sold out, as well.

“This is our 50th year. We want the community and surrounding areas to realize the commitment of our organization in giving back,” Taylor said, adding this is a fun family environment. “We don’t have a gate and don’t charge to park.”

Another positive of the festival is the concession options are reasonably priced so everyone can enjoy.

The popularity of the food vendors, all of which are non-profit organizations, led to the expansion of the eating area. That will be doubled this year to two 20-feet-by-40-feet tents with picnic tables for people to sit under.

“We are just growing. It’s a good problem,” Nederland Heritage Festival Director Shannon Hemby said.

The theme this year is “Better with Time, 50 Years Strong,” which came about from board members tossing around ideas.

The logo style with “1973” is a throwback to the old Ocean Pacific, or OP brand.  The t-shirts are selling quickly, Hemby said.

The sale of the Passports to Fun began with 1,000 released on festival website. It was a trial run, and the organization hopes to take payments for other things online in the future.

“We sell to people in the Dallas and Houston area, Louisiana and somebody bought one from Midland,” Hemby said.

Following the release of the 1,000 Passports for sale, came a batch of 2,500 for sale in person.

Hemby said the reason the amount of Passports was cut off at that point is due to the contract with Goldstar Amusements, which has been providing rides at the festival for more than 20 years.

“Our whole thing is that this is our 50th, we’re going to do it big,” Hemby said.