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Folks flip for Port Lavaca's Flip Flop Festival

By Elena Watts
Aug. 30, 2014 at 3:20 p.m.
Updated Aug. 30, 2014 at 10:39 p.m.

Nathan Weir, 10, and his brother, Slade, 7, watch as one of the performers of the United Freestyle Stunt Team from Austin does tricks on a bicycle Saturday during the Flip Flop Festival at Bay Front Peninsula in Port Lavaca. Other events included a flip-flop flinging contest, a horseshoe and washer contest, and a frozen T-shirt contest.

PORT LAVACA - For several years, revelers - young and old - have slipped into their flip-flops for a full day of fun at the Flip Flop Festival.

In full beach attire, tourists and Crossroads residents have lined up on the Saturday before Labor Day in Bayfront Peninsula Park.

They kick their flip-flops into the distance to see who can fling theirs the farthest in the Fling Flong Contest.

Some competitors grunt like they're serving at Wimbledon while others don't bother to put their drinks down.

"It's fantastic because there's so much community involvement," said Jim Ward, a festival volunteer.

Attendees have come from Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Missouri, he said.

A Friday night street dance on the bayfront peninsula was recently added to the festivities. Night Moves, a popular local band, provided the live music.

Other past musicians and bands have included Reckless Kelly, the Philip Griffin Band, Jack Ingram and Alexis Chapa, among others.

At every festival, cold beer flows freely. Braman Winery's Wine on Wheels serves frozen, fruity concoctions, and carnival fare also fuels festival-goers.

A barbecue cook-off sanctioned by the International Barbecue Cookers Association attracts throngs of participants, said event coordinator Jennifer Schulte. The payout is $10,000.

"The barbecue cookoff was amazing last year," Ward said. "It was so well organized."

Other activities include horseshoe and washer tournaments and a frozen T-shirt contest that requires the winner to unroll a frozen shirt the fastest.

A kid's zone offers rides and games arranged around the new splashpad and pirate's ship playground, Schulte said. A babysuit pageant for children, walking age to 4, and a sand-sculpting contest also entertain youngsters.

Unique shopping opportunities include metal art and woodworking from local artists, homemade arts and crafts, and jewelry and candles from Origami Owl and Pink Zebra, popular social selling businesses.

Fred Mallett, a Port Aransas sand sculptor, carves and molds several tons of sand into a sculpture. One year, he created a fantastical underwater sandcastle scene.

"He's an amazing artist," Schulte said. "And he's good at interacting with and entertaining the crowd."

Entry to the festival is free. Past proceeds have benefitted projects such as the construction of the Veteran's Memorial in Bayfront Peninsula Park.

The city of Port Lavaca and the Calhoun County Chamber of Commerce coordinate the event.

Bob Turner, Port Lavaca city manager, says the partnership is "the perfect storm."

"Folks come out and seem to enjoy themselves," Turner said. "It's always a great success."



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