MILES — The West Texas skies opened up and as rain fell for a week, but it didn’t dampen the spirits of the 41st Miles Cotton Fest.
There were over 100 entries into the barbecue competition. The barbecue categories were beans, chicken, pork spare ribs, brisket and margaritas. Under the trying conditions one would expect some challenges but as Cherry Kasberg of the Miles Preservation Authority said, “It’s been smooth. All of the people who work the fest know their responsibilities and carry them out.”
Indeed, not only did the volunteers carry out their responsibilities, they did so in seamless fashion. The event was well organized and well prepared to meet and overcome any challenge.
The parade theme was appropriately christened, “No rain, no cotton.” No pre-entry needed, just show up and be part of the fun, Miles style.
The areas with the barbecue contestant’s pits became quagmires of ankle deep mud after a week of storms that brought over eight inches of rain. Dairy boots were the required footwear for most of the contestants and their crews of cooks as they slogged around tending their pits. Paths of dirt and caliche became scars of mud that were traveled on by the contestants as if it were just another day at the pit. Texas barbecue is more of a religion than a hobby and the contestants answered the challenge as meat smoke hung over the area like a fog of savory flavor. You couldn’t walk along the various paths without salivating at every step. Barbecue plates could be purchased straight off the smoker at many of the contestant’s sites.
There were momentary respites from the rain but they never lasted more than 10 or 15 minutes and the deluge that ensued had 100-plus vendors constantly draining water off their pop-up tents. In addition to the barbecue cook-off, there was a washer throwing competition, bounce house for the kids, vendors of all varieties from clothing to jewelry along with several food trucks. Attendees endure the rain showers with some sporting umbrellas while others resigned themselves to their fate and walked along in the rain without any protection.
The money from the Cotton Fest goes to the Miles Opera House where senior citizens are fed every day. The Miles Empowerment Association president, Katrina Torres, was also on hand, selling fence pickets to raise funds to build a playground and install equipment as well as constructing a fence around it. With the proceeds from the fest going to community projects, the success of the event can be key to jump starting or continuing to support projects.