Every spring in Temple, Texas, trees bloom, bluebonnets flourish and the biggest festival of the year takes place downtown. Bloomin’ Fest attracts locals looking for good music, fried food and a great time. This year’s festival proved to be one of the best with the Charlie Daniels Band as the headliner.
Now I have to admit I was a little skeptical that Charlie Daniels would actually be playing his fiddle. On Friday night, the Fabulous Thunderbirds brought down the house with some rocking tunes, but they were missing some of the original members. Make that all of the original members except for Kim Wilson, which isn’t surprising as many long-time bands go through several changes over the years. The band still played a great show and helped set the tone for the rest of the festival.
Saturday night always features country bands, and locals Brian Gowan and his band played a great set that was reminiscent of George Strait. Brandon Rhyder also entertained the crowd with a Texas country sound, slightly edgier and more rock than most country bands. This year the festival also added a second stage with Tejano bands, and Latin Grammy Winner Elida Reyna finished the lineup with her incredible vocal talent.
The biggest band of the night, however, was the Charlie Daniels Band. For a man in his mid-seventies, Charlie can still play a mean fiddle and guitar too. By his second song he had already shredded his bow, which he tossed to the crowd. His iconic song, “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” didn’t disappoint as the rest of the band is as talented if not more so than Charlie. Living in Texas, I’ve seen quite a few great fiddlers, including my eight-grade math teacher, Ricky Boen, who was a world champion. Seeing a legend in person who can still make fire fly from his fingertips was an amazing experience.
Besides the music, the festival always has the carnival for kids and teenagers, but I avoided those since the only one that doesn’t make me sick is the ferris wheel. After riding the Texas Star ferris wheel in Dallas at the state fair, most others just seem mild in comparison. The festival fried foods are always enjoyable, and my husband loves to scope out the vendors since he and his parents spent many days over the past years selling funnel cakes and chicken fried steak on a stick from their own food truck. I have also been behind the scenes a few times, and I feel sympathetic for this vendors. This year, some of the booths had to use carnival games to promote their booths because there were simply too many booths for the amount of people. We also noticed that most of them had marked down their products in order to sell, which is never a good sign. We enjoyed our gyro and BBQ sandwiches, and hope they pulled out with a little profit in their pockets.
The festival also features several booths with t-shirts, purses, jewelry, and our personal favorite, turtles. We struck up a conversation with the turtle salesman and enjoyed watching the tiny turtles that could fit in the palm of your hand. My husband gave him tips on a few other local festivals and wished him luck.
Overall, the festival was successful and included many more events, like a 5K run, car show, and Ft. Hood Appreciation Day on Sunday. For a small town in central Texas, I think they have figured out how to plan a great festival. As Charlie would say, “That’s how it’s done, son.”