BALLINGER - Once again it is festival time in Runnels County with the 43rd Annual Texas State Festival of Ethnic Cultures and Arts and Crafts Show Saturday, April 28. The annual festival has been revamped and renewed and is expected to draw thousands of visitors from across the state and the area.

BALLINGER - Once again it is festival time in Runnels County with the 43rd Annual Texas State Festival of Ethnic Cultures and Arts and Crafts Show Saturday, April 28. The annual festival has been revamped and renewed and is expected to draw thousands of visitors from across the state and the area.

This year the fest will have many new activities, food and attractions for the entire family.

The fest starts with the parade at 10 a.m. with booths located on the Runnels County Courthouse square, also opening at 10 a.m.

“We are trying to bring some new ideas in to get people involved,” said Ballinger Area Chamber President Whitney Shorb. “We want to continue to bring in new things to the community to increase community involvement.”

The annual festival celebrating the rich history and ethnicity of Runnels County, traces its roots back to April 18, 1976 when a group of local business owners decided to create a celebration in conjunction with the Bicentennial celebration that year.

The fest started with seven cultures and each culture had a booth with authentic food prepared from original recipes handed down through the ages. Over the years, more cultures were represented and this year a variety of food cultures will be represented including German, Italian, Mexican, Czech, Texan, American and African American.

The German booth sponsored by the Ballinger Memorial Hospital Foundation, will feature sausage sauerkraut sandwiches with German chocolate cake. Folks from the Ballinger Area Chamber of Commerce will be manning the Czech booth and selling kolaches. Beef and chicken fajitas will be on the menu at the Mexican booth sponsored by First Baptist Church and Jesus Christ Church is sponsoring the African American booth which will feature fried catfish, French fries, hush puppies and cole slaw. The Sons of Hermann of Rowena will be selling funnels cakes at the Dutch booth. The American booth, sponsored by the Ballinger Masonic Lodge will feature hamburgers, hot dogs and sausage wraps and the Texan booth, sponsored by the Ballinger Humane Society will have drinks, nachos, Frito pie, pickles and cotton candy. The Italian booth, sponsored by Papi’s Pizza will feature pizza, calzones and wings.

Get ready for an out of this world Kids Area this year which will feature pony rides, courtesy of Glory Road Cowboy Church, a climbing wall sponsored by Buddy’s Plants Plus, a fire station bounce house thanks to the Ballinger Volunteer Fire Department, a pirate bounce house, boxing ring and face painting courtesy of Denise Owens and carnival games sponsored by Vyve Broadband.

Entertainment on the courthouse lawn includes the Glory Bound Cloggers and the Lakeview High School Mariachis and Concho Grass. Gunslingers from Lone Star Lead and Lace will be on the courthouse lawn all day with their Old West reenactments.

Plus as always, numerous vendors will be set up at the Runnels County Courthouse Square selling everything from jewelry, to artwork and clothing. In addition, non-profit organizations will have booths to promote events or raise funds for various causes.

This year, for the first time ever, there will be a Beer and Wine Garden set up from noon to 6 p.m. at Pioneer Plaza off of 7th Street.

There will be entertainment all afternoon, starting with Homegrown from 1-3 p.m. and followed by Guitar Shawn and Band from 3:30-5:30 p.m.

In addition, the Lone Star Market will be be set up at the Wool and Mohair building and shoppers can find everything from vintage clothing and furniture to jewelry and art all in one place. Located in the old Wool and Mohair Warehouse at 608 Railroad Ave., the market will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. The cost is $6 at the door.

Mid-West Texas Artist Guild Miniature Art Show will be held at the Do-Art Studio on 9th Street.

The 42nd Annual Colorado River Bikefest will also be part of Ethnic Fest this year and it gets underway at 8 a.m. Saturday, near Pioneer Plaza.

A car and motorcycle show will be set up in the 100 block of 7th Street and will begin after 11 a.m. chamber officials said. The pie baking contest will begin at 2 p.m.

The festival also features the 3 on 3 Basketball Tournament, which is open to kids of all ages. The first ever 2018 Dog Show sponsored by the Humane Society will be held and awards will be presented for Prettiest Dog, Ugliest Dog, Most Talented and Best in Show.