HENDERSON - One of the "sweetest" attractions in East Texas kicks off Saturday when Henderson rolls out its 27th Annual Heritage Syrup Festival.

The one-day folk-life festival is set for 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the historic downtown, featuring vendors, demonstrations and an East Texas favorite: syrup, made the old-fashioned way.

Organizers are hoping for record attendance, which ranged in recent years between 22,000 and 28,000.

"The weather is supposed to be perfect this year," said Vickie Armstrong, director of The Depot Museum. "It's supposed to be cool and no rain."

Syrup-making and folk art are dying arts, so efforts are made to reverse the trend, she said, adding, "We're trying to keep it alive, to teach the young about history."

Syrup-making demonstrations are planned throughout the day on the Depot Museum grounds, featuring experienced syrup-makers using antique mule-powered equipment.

Saturday's festival also includes an old-fashioned sawmill, antique tractor show, bluegrass/ folk singers and a melodrama at the Opera House.

A variety of artisans are expected to be on hand to demonstrate time-tested techniques of blacksmith work, woodcarving, as well as making lace, rope, baskets and quilts.

The festivities are spread throughout a six-block area that extends from the museum, 514 N. High St., to Heritage Square in the National Register Historic District.

Hayride shuttles between the museum and downtown are available, sponsored by the Rusk County 4-H Club.

For more information about the festival, visit www. Depotmuseum.com.


Jacque Hilburn-Simmons is an award-winning journalist who has been writing professionally for 30 years. She's a former police reporter who also wrote a book about the KFC murder. She shares stories about East Texas through her Behind the Wheel column.

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