http://www.theeagle.com/news/local/spirit-of-texas-festival-organizer-pleased-with-reception-if-not/article_49911f52-1715-53ce-8efa-8da679ae943d.html

Second year of event will honor state legends, attempt record sundae

Houston resident and Texas A&M graduate Rick Sacco hugs an inflatable Shiner beer bottle at last year’s Spirit of Texas Festival at Wolf Pen Creek Park in College Station.

The Spirit of Texas Festival returns to College Station later this month, and organizers have their eyes set on breaking another Guinness World Record.

Weather forced the cancellation last year of some of the festival’s top-billed events, including world-record attempts for the largest Frito pie and group Texas two-step. The largest serving of chili (4,800 pounds of beef, onions, bell pepper, diced tomatoes, garlic and chili powder) was cooked up at the event, though, and this year Executive Director Cynthia Caronna says the plan is to assemble the world’s longest ice cream sundae.

Caronna said the record attempt is presented by the event’s main sponsor, H-E-B.

“We are super excited to have them on board, mostly because Spirit of Texas is a celebration of all things Texas — it fits very well with H-E-B’s corporate philosophy,” Caronna said. “We’re here to help build the community and strengthen the community and create a fun family event.”

Caronna, the festival’s founder, said last year served as a sort of “proof of concept” for the event, while this year there will be more focus on the execution. A couple of changes have been made to the free event March 23-25 at Wolf Pen Creek Park and Amphitheater for its second year. First, Caronna said, there will be fewer individual events. Second, there will be some new features — one being a kickoff honoring six “legends” who have improved the lives of Texans, she said.

Caronna said H-E-B Chairman and CEO Charles Butt; American Momentum Bank CEO Don Adam; Billy Pete Huddleston, captain of Paul “Bear” Bryant’s “Junction Boys” Aggie football team; former A&M System Chancellor Mike McKinney; former Texas A&M head football coach R.C. Slocum; and former Aggie football player Edd Hargett, the state director of rural development for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, will be honored.

“These are all men that have gone out of their way to enhance the lives of other Texans and enhance their communities, so we have chosen to honor them,” Caronna said. “We will pick legends each year.”

That event is free to the public, and a limited number of $275 VIP tickets also will be available. It will be headlined by country artist Stephanie Quayle.

There’s no cost to get in to the three-day festival, but visitors will be charged for food and drinks as well as for some ticketed events. Caronna estimates around 20,000 people attended last year, and anticipates 50,000 attendees this year.

All proceeds from the festival will go to local youth-focused charities, Caronna said, with half of the money planned to benefit the Boys & Girls Club of the Brazos Valley. A main goal of the festival is to provide fun, free events for families, like the “Idea Village” on March 24-25 that will provide interactive learning experiences for grade-school children, and a “rodeo” where both children and adults can race inflatable ponies. Students from Blinn College are coordinating the “pony hop rodeo,” Caronna said, adding that Texas A&M students also have a large hand in the event.

Returning features include the barbecue cook-off and food truck competition. The winners of the contests will be awarded $10,000 and $11,000, respectively. On the last day of the festival, a $25 ticket will buy attendees samples from five of the food trucks.

To participate in the world-record attempt — Caronna said the ice cream sundae will need to be about a mile long — people are encouraged to sign up in teams in advance. Each team will be assigned a certain number of feet of the sundae to assemble. All supplies will be provided by H-E-B.

For information about how to participate and more details about the festival, visit www.sotxfest.com.

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