Several events offer great weekend options for Runnels County residents

Bill Hancock
Runnels County Register

RUNNELS COUNTY - It will be a busy weekend in Runnels County with two festivals and an Autism Awareness Walk.

Ballinger will celebrate their 47th Annual Texas State Festival of Ethnic Cultures Arts & Crafts on Saturday, April 30. The festival celebrates cultures from throughout the USA and around the world.

Texas State Festival of Ethnic Cultures (Ethnic Fest)

Ballinger will host their 47th annual Texas State Festival of Ethnic Cultures (Ethnic Fest) on Saturday. The event will kickoff with a parade through downtown Ballinger at 10 a.m., followed by a day of celebrations and stunning presentations.

The Sahawe Dance Troupe will be at the festival once again. The Sahawe Dancers are popular and the tent where they perform is always packed to capacity with people who want to watch the dancers and learn about Native American culture. The dance troupe comes all the way in from Uvalde. Their history is posted on their website, “The Sahawe Dancers were originally founded in 1950 as the Comanche Club Indians by Scoutmaster of Troop 81 in Uvalde, Texas, Joe W. Williams, as a program for older boys in scouting. Mr. Williams had read about a similar program in La Junta, Colorado, known as the Koshare Dancers, and their leader Buck Burshears. Mr. William and Mr. Burshears corresponded for some time about the possibilities of starting such an Indian dance group in Uvalde. The name of the group was changed to Sahawe Dancers in 1952."

Two dancers from the Sahawe Indian dancers perform at Ballinger's Ethnic Festival in 2019. The dancers will return for more performances at the festival on Saturday that will kickoff with a parade at 10 a.m. in Ballinger.

Don't forget about the food! There will be food from several cultures at the Ethnic Festival, including kolaches, bratwurst, fried fish, and more. The food vendors prepare a variety of foods. As celebrity chef Guy Fieri once said, “Cooking is all about people. Food is maybe the only universal thing that really has the power to bring everyone together. No matter what culture, everywhere around the world, people get together to eat.”

Ballinger will celebrate their 47th Annual Texas State Festival of Ethnic Cultures Arts & Crafts on Saturday, April 30. The festival celebrates cultures from throughout the USA and around the world. The Ballinger Police Department hosts the No Man's Land Chili and BBQ cook-off during the festival.

Speaking of food, the No Man's Land Chili Cook-off will be in full swing! The event was started a couple of years ago by the Ballinger Police Department. Eventually the organizers want to get the cook off as a qualifier for the Terlingua Chili Cook-off.

Texas Parks & Wildlife will also have their catfish pond so folks can go get the experience of feeling a fish tugging on their line. The event draws in young and old, alike.

Runnels County Film Festival

This will be the first year for the Runnels County Film Festival. Organizers launched the festival idea in September of last year and have been working to bring something new and exciting to Runnels County. The festival will be held at the Winters Community Center and involves a free full-blown kickoff concert at 6 p.m. on Friday by the Jeff Jacobs Band of San Antonio.

The first Runnels County Film Festival will be held in Winters at the Winters Community Center on April 29 & 30. There will be a free kickoff concert at 6 p.m. on Friday with the Jeff Jacobs Band performing a full set. There will be events throughout the day on both days. The film festival has free entry and will also feature kiddie rides, concerts all day Saturday, and live discussion panels with members of the film industry.

Jeff Smith of KRUN radio is one of the organizers, "We wanted to bring something new and exciting to Runnels County. The festival is in Winters this year, but each year we plan on moving it to a different town in the county. We signed the Jeff Jacobs Band from San Antonio to kick off the festival at 6 p.m. on Friday. They are a high-energy band and it will be a full concert. This isn't an acoustic set, this is full power electric band rocking us into the night."

The festival has signed around 30 sponsors and has dozens of vendors coming in. Angela New of Gypsy Threads, Tees & More and Melinda Meyers of the Cup of Joe Coffee Shop in Winters created a shopping event, Main Street Market Days, in Winters last year. The shopping extravaganza is held on the second Saturday of each month. New shared the festival information with the vendors from Market Days, as well as vendors from other areas, "We want to support the festival. They are doing something great and we need to support it. There has never been anything like this festival here. Winters gets to host the first one and we're excited about it."

The Last Chapter Business Solutions (TLC) in Ballinger is providing kiddie rides. These are the rides many people grew up riding in front of grocery stores for a dime or a quarter. There will be at least a dozen rides at the festival and they will all be free.

Jonathan Smith and Kellie Book of TLC also organized the high successful auction in February, "We want this festival to be successful. They're going to hold it in a different community each year, and Ballinger is on that list. They have put a lot of work into it. We support it 100% and look forward to it coming to Ballinger in the future."

The schedule of events for the film festival have been posted:

Friday, April 29:

Festival kicks off at 10 a.m. Vendors and merchants, as well as kiddie rides, will be on site all day at the Winters Community Center.

12 - Noon: Turn-in deadline for filmmaker contest. The contest is for films of any genre that must be under 20 minutes in length. The entry fee is $20 per submission, with a limit of 3 submissions per filmmaker. The films must be the original work of the filmmaker.

Noon - 6 p.m.: Free movies will play throughout the day at the Winters Community Center.

6 p.m.: FREE live concert at the Winters Community Center by the Jeff Jacobs Band. The concert will run from 6 p.m. - 8 p.m.

8 p.m.: Organizers and guests will head to the Old Texas Theater in Ballinger for some socializing.

Saturday, April 30:

10 a.m. - Festival opens with vendors and sponsors at the community center. There will be free kiddie rides and concerts throughout the day.

12 - Noon: The band, Moondogs, will take the stage for a live performance. The band is a popular group and offers a wide range of music from various genres.

1:30 p.m.: Discussion panel with film industry experts, including directors, actors, cinematographers and stuntman Jeff Caperton. Director Shane Bradford, who has already filmed one movie in Runnels County and will commence filming a new movie in the county in October, will be part of the panel. Cinematographer Michael Murphy will also be part of the panel, as well as actress Lisa Rae Bryant and others.

2 p.m.: Nashville recording artist Christopher Wright will take the stage. Wright's music has been soaring through the airwaves as he is riding a wave of success throughout country music.

3: p.m. - Discussion panel with film industry experts.

4 p.m.: Dale Phillips will take the stage. Phillips is a multiple Texas Top 100 Hit producing artist and songwriter.

6 p.m.: Awards ceremony and trophy presentations for sponsors and filmmakers. There will be three special surprise presentations.

7 p.m.: Country mustars, Ragland, will perform at the private VIP wrap party at Gypsy Threads, Tees & More in Winters at 137 N. Main Street. The wrap party will feature free beer, wine, and food.

The wrap party is private with only 100 tickets going to sponsors, discussion panel guests, and others. A limited number of passes are on sale for $25 each.

Email: for more information.

Autism Awareness Walk - Winters:

An Autism Awareness walk will start at Security State Bank in Winters at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday. The walk will continue to the Winters ISD track and field on Novice Road. Walkers are encouraged to wear rainbow colored clothing to show support for Autism Awareness Month.

There will be an Autism Awareness walk in Winters at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday. The walk will begin at the Security State Bank and will conclude at the Winters ISD track on Novice Highway. People are encouraged to wear rainbow colored clothing in support of Autism Awareness Month. The event is free of charge.