Preparations underway for annual Pine Beetle Festival

By Michelle Bates

CASTOR – The annual 2023 Pine Beetle Festival is just around the corner and will include a variety of activities, which will include hot air balloon rides during the afternoon and a balloon glow at dark.

Festival Day will be Saturday, Nov. 4, with the balloon rides during the afternoon. Rides are $20 each and will go up about 30 feet in the air. At dark, there will be four additional balloons inflated that will glow in the dark for about one hour. Rides will be on a first come, first served basis; there is no age limit but an adult must accompany every child that goes up. The rides will be on a cash only basis.

When plans were first being made for the 2023 Pine Beetle Festival, the one thing we wanted was to do something for the people of Bienville Parish that was different and that you all would always remember. After much discussion, we decided on an event that has never been brought to our area and promises to be spectacular!

On Saturday afternoon and evening, Castor, LA will be prepped and transformed into a magical place where five hot air balloons will put on a spectacular show. Mr. Pat Harwell, of American Escapes Aerosports, LLC, of Shreveport, will join us along with a group of balloonists that will be bringing a total of five hot air balloons for a spectacular show at dark. A little before dark, Mr. Harwell will use his balloon to
offer tethered hot air balloon rides to those interested in having the experience of a lifetime.

The actual balloon glow will take place in the vacant lot downtown next to Kepler Nutrition. There is no parking over there so we are asking people to either walk over from the festival site or just watch from the festival site.

The Pine Beetle Festival is extremely proud to bring this event to Castor, LA. We hope that you all really enjoy it and remember it for a long time to come.

A schedule of events is as follows:

On Saturday, Oct. 28, the food wars will take place at 6 p.m. at the Castor Community Center, which includes the gumbo war (chicken, sausage, seafood), Pie Wars (adults) and Cupcake Wars (ages 12 and below).

Gumbo Wars: The Gumbo Cook Off is Saturday, Oct. 28, at the Castor Community Center, located at 111 Lodge St. Entry fee is $5, and after the final judging, the public may purchase a meal ticket for $5. All entries must be in a crockpot. Registration is at 5:30 p.m., with the judging beginning at 6 p.m. Categories are chicken and sausage, seafood or wild game.

Pie Bake Off: The Pie Bake off will be Saturday, Oct. 28, at the Castor Community Center. Registration begins at 5:30 p.m. with the competition beginning at 6 p.m. This category is for ages 15 and up. Entry fee is $5.

Cupcake Wars: For ages up to 14 years old, registration begins at 5:30 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 28. The competition will begin at 6 p.m. Bring a dozen of your best, decorated cupcakes and see if you will be named this year’s Pine Beetle Cupcake Wars Champion. Entry fee is $5.

On Monday, Oct. 30, the treasure hunt begins. Follow the Pine Beetle Festival Facebook Page for updates and details.

On Wednesday, Nov. 1, will be the Community Prayer meeting at the Festival Pavilion. Beginning at 6 p.m., music will be provided by Doris Rasbury with the message from Allen Upshaw.

On Friday, Nov. 3, the Karaoke Contest will be at 6 p.m. at the Festival Pavilion. Categories include ages 12 and below, age 13 and above, duets/trios. Signup begins at 5:30 p.m. with a $10 entry fee.

On Festival Day, Saturday, Nov. 4, opening ceremonies will be at 9 a.m. at the Festival Pavilion with the parade at 10 a.m. Other activities include food, fun, vendors, silent auction, pet parade, goat drop bingo, tethered hot air balloon rides in the afternoon and the balloon glow at dark.

Some of the vendors that have signed up already include: FUMC Daycare, Lauren Giddens, Ashland Baptist Youth, Love Like Jesus Ministries, Papa D’s Wood Shop, Sugar Babies, Louisiana Home Health, Donna and Josie Griffin Schloer, Angelle Young, Jay Brunson ( Smackers Food Truck), Joe Grisham, Ora Bush, Diane Rushing Warren, Carolyn Shirley, Jessi Plunkett, Salter’s Sweets, RM Crowson Lodge #281,
and Jan Moore, Castor Library, and LA Dept of Forestry and Agriculture.

Please see the Pine Beetle Festival Facebook Page for more information on vendor and booth entry.

Please remember that this festival depends on the current restrictions/mandates that are in place at the time of the festival (including weather conditions) and may have to be postponed or cancelled. If this happens, your booth rental fee will be refunded or held over for the next festival date, whichever you prefer. Please remember that we have no control over it being cancelled or postponed. For more information on any events, go the Pine Beetle Festival Facebook Page or call Melanie Jordan at 318-268-0209.

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