On Saturday September 7th, Winters will hosts it’s 17th annual Dovefest. The festival that celebrates that flying dart that can frustrate even the best of hunters from time to time is the primary fundraiser for the nonprofits and youth organizations in the small west Texas town of 2,400 people.
Laura Day is a member of the Dovefest executive committee and says that the event has enjoyed a lot of success over the years, “This is our 17th Dovefest. Over the previous 16 years we gave out over $190,000 to local nonprofits and youth organizations such as FFA, 4H, the band, cheerleaders, etc. The nonprofits and youth groups are our reasons for having Dovefest. It’s our largest event and it’s always been a good time for all, from the volunteers to the people who attend it.” Each year the Dovefest organizers give a $1,000 scholarship to a local high school senior. The entry into the essay contest is through Winters High School, “Usually the essay subject is about living in Winters or dove hunting.”
Day says that this year Dovefest will have something that they haven’t had before: free beer. “We will be offering free beer until supplies run out. It’s only through the generosity of our sponsors that this will be possible.”
Another new activity this year is the kid’s activity area, “We will have organized games for children such as sack races, potato races, freeze dancing and more. We will have one volunteer dedicated to that area so the parents can let their children play while they go look at auction items or the guns in the raffle.” The city has also donated use of the swimming pool, “The city was kind enough to donate the swimming pool to us for the evening, from 1 p.m. until 6 p.m. Each meal ticket gives free entry into the swimming pool.”
Some of the Dovefest standards will be there again this year, such as the clay pigeon shoot, gun raffle, Camo 5k (Color Run) and 1-mile fun run. The live entertainment this year will once again be the band Breakingstride. The gun raffle is always popular, “We have 10 high-quality guns this year. The tickets are $5 each or hunter packs 20 tickets for $100. The advantage to buying a hunter pack is that you only have to fill out your information once. We’ll be putting tables in storefronts around town to sell gun raffle tickets. You can also purchase tickets at Bee’s Quilts, J&T Hardware and the Welcome Center.”
One of the most successful events at the Dovefest is the silent auction, “We have a wonderful pool of people who donate items but if there are more people who would like to donate to the silent auction, they can drop the items off at Bee’s Quilts or call me at the Welcome Center at 325-754-0120.” On the Sunday and Monday following the festival the Winters Welcome Center will be open at 10 a.m. and close at 6 p.m. so that people can pick up any items that they won in the silent auction.
Nonprofits in Winters can qualify for monetary donations from the festival by volunteering to work the Dovefest. The festival typically has about 250 volunteers and they represent the various nonprofits around town. For a nonprofit to qualify they need to have volunteers work the festival. The volunteers’ hours are added up at the end of the festival. Consideration is also given to the types of work the volunteers do, such as the difference between moving tables and equipment all day VS sitting at a table selling tickets.
The barbeque plates are always in high demand and a highlight of the festival. This year they’ll go for $12 each. Active duty military will eat for free.
The festival has always been successful and there shouldn’t be any difference this year. It always gets bigger and better and positive changes are made after each year, such as adding the kids’ activity area this year. Day says that a lot of planning goes into the festival, “Dovefest is run by a very small committee. We start planning 8 months ahead of time and it takes a lot of people a lot of time to bring it all together. We want to thank our volunteers, sponsors and donors for always making it a success. Dovefest would not enjoy the success that it has had over the years without them.” Y
ou can find out more about Dovefest by visiting www.WintersDoveFest.com or by calling Laura at 325-754-0120.