By Brenda Young
BERTRAM — New faces continue to join the ranks of sponsors, vendors and volunteers who are working quickly to iron out all the details for the 37th Annual Oatmeal Festival in Bertram. The Oatmeal “bowl” members (as board members prefer to be called) met June 25 to update organizers and welcome some new sponsors.
Advertising, entertainment and the exchange of in-kind services for contributing vendors were just a few of the items cooking on the bowl’s agenda. They are also finalizing a detailed operational, emergency and parking plan as requested by the Bertram City Council, as the festival will encompass more space downtown this year.
“On Saturday, everything is going to be back downtown,” Bertram Mayor Dickie Allen said. “We’re going to block off a lot of the city’s streets, and I think it will give it a more festive appeal, as this is our time of the year to celebrate and have a party.”
Allen also spoke of the importance the Oatmeal Festival has as a boost to the local economy.
“I think it’s good to let people know Bertram is here; you never know if they later decide to move or to start a business here,” Allen said. “It definitely helps our hotel and surrounding sponsors. We get visitors coming in who stay in other areas as well as Bertram, and you have to remember, this is also like a reunion for many people as much as it is a community celebration.”
The festival is held every year on Labor Day weekend and draws thousands of people to the small community. The event has grown attracting visitors from near and far who come to enjoy the unique atmosphere and pay homage to its main contributor, Ralston Foods and its 3-Minute Brand Oats.
Not only is this a rare chance for participants to join events such as a Groaty Oats contest, a Goat-pill Popping contest, Oatmeal Box Stacking contest and a Cow Chip Kick-off, to name a few, but each event takes place at three or 33 minutes past the hour, sticking close to the three-minute oatmeal traditions.
The fun takes place August 29-30. Friday’s activities kick off the celebration in the neighboring community of Oatmeal, which was the site of the first event in 1977. Friday’s activities include the Oatmeal Festival Pageant, an Arts & Crafts display and a barbecue dinner.
Saturday activities include a trail ride, a RUN for your OATS 5k race, a Pet Parade, Grand Festival Parade, Oatmeal Bake-off contest, arts and crafts, music, games and a street dance Saturday night at 9 p.m. featuring the band, People’s Choice. Tickets for the dance are $10 each.
Festival organizers expect this year’s event to draw as many as 60 vendor booths and hope visitors will be bowled over with excitement at the added conveniences of service and location.