BALLINGER – The 42nd Texas State Festival of Ethnic Cultures got off to a chilly start Saturday as a cold front passed over Ballinger threatening to blow the annual festival off of the grounds of the Runnels County Courthouse.

BALLINGER – The 42nd Texas State Festival of Ethnic Cultures got off to a chilly start Saturday as a cold front passed over Ballinger threatening to blow the annual festival off of the grounds of the Runnels County Courthouse.

The cold front passed through about 10:15 a.m. moments after the parade began. High winds and dark clouds loomed over the area, but the front passed through, leaving in its wake chilly temperatures and forcing fest goers to don sweaters and jackets.

But the event went off as usual despite the cold and windy conditions that blew through town in a matter of moments. The front that blew through Ballinger, brought high winds only. It would be the same weather system that would move across the state, causing severe weather and at least four deaths in East Texas.

The parade went on in spite of the weather, with more than 60 entries signing up for the event, said Tammie Virden, executive director of the Ballinger Area Chamber of Commerce.

“We haven’t had that number of entries in a long time,’ Virden said.

As usual, the fruit kolaches at the Czech booth, sponsored by the chamber, were the very popular and sold out by 10:20 a.m. Other booths included the American booth manned by the Ballinger Masonic Lodge, the Hispanic booth sponsored by First Baptist Church, the Dutch booth manned by Sons of Herman Hall and the Texan booth manned by members of the Human Society.

When the event started Saturday morning, there were over 40 vendors with tents on the Runnels County Courthouse lawn. But by early afternoon, many of the vendors had packed up to leave, due to windy and cold conditions. But many of the return vendors, stayed.

“I’ve been doing this for 10 years,” said Brian Drake, who had a silver jewelry booth. He had planned to put up paintings as well but opted not to do so because of the weather.

“I can’t risk that,” Drake said.

Yolanda Lara manned a booth for the Brady Bunch Boutique in Ballinger. She remained even after her tent blew down three times.

“I’m staying,” she said.

At the end of the afternoon, Ethnic Fest royalty was crowned with Criselda Garza was named Miss Ballinger. Hanna Holcomb was first runner up and Sydney Bowman was second runner up. Trista Cortez was named Junior Miss Ballinger.

The contest for the parade entries included three categories, Antique Division, Decorated Vehicle Division and Float Division.

In the Antique Division, Dan and Linda Maynard of Ballinger won first place, Kit Hurt with the Cruisin’ Classics Car Club, won second place.

In the Decorated Vehicle Division, Jessica Castleberry, a Miss Ballinger contestant won first place, while Winters Sno Royalty and Emily West, Junior Miss Ballinger of 2016 tied for second place.

In the Float Division, Miles Cotton Queen Marial Kalina and Miss Ballinger contestant Hannah Holcomb tied for first place. Second place went to the Ballinger Head Start Program.