Festival begins tomorrow

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 3, 2001


Tuesday, July 03, 2001


Email newsletter signup

It’s that time of year again – the weather is warm, the days are long and the grills are fired up. It can only mean one thing – time for the 16th annual SPAMTOWN USA Festival and SPAM Jam 2001.

According to Cindy Samuel, coordinator of festival events, this year promises to be bigger and better than ever. The festival kicks off on Wednesday for Independence Day with a number of events, including the Independence Day parade at 11 a.m. with a salute from the color guard and a welcome from Mayor Bonnie Rietz. There also will be a performance by Miss Austin 2001 Amber Dolphin at 6:30 p.m. and Paddle Boat Relays at the east end of Mill Pond at 3:30 p.m.

Events will take place at Horace Austin Park, concluding with a fireworks finale at 9:45 p.m.

The fireworks display also will be a bit different this year, as Samuel explained.

"Some of them are so large, they’ll have to be fired electronically," she said.

This has not been done in the past and promises to be exciting, as Samuel said they look to improve upon each event the following year.

The outdoor movie feature on Thursday is "Raiders of the Lost Ark" at Bandshell Park.

Parents should take their children and their friends to Downtown Family Day on Main Street on Friday.

The day will be full of games, a petting zoo, face painting and other activities for both old and young to enjoy together. The SPAMTOWN USA Festival street dance kicks off at 8 p.m. on Main Street, featuring music by the Killer Hayseeds, The Reconstructions and the Barry Rush Reunion Band. Tickets are available at the gate for $5. Children 12 and under are free with an adult.

The 11th annual SPAM Jam takes place from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday at East Side Lake.

Samuel said a Museum sneak preview tent and the SPAMMOBILE, which stops in various cities across the United States offering bite-sized samples of the popular canned luncheon meat.

An interesting addition to SPAM Jam this year is a feature entitled "Around the World with SPAM."

Samuel explained that a large United States map and rotating globe will be on site. Visitors may pin their state or nation on the map and are eligible for a free SPAM cookbook.

Also, for those dreaming of tropical locales, a drawing will be held at 5:30 p.m. for a trip for two to Hawaii, courtesy of 4 Seasons Travel in Austin. Samuel said contestants on site when the drawing is held win an additional $500 in cash and a case of SPAM.

Looking to appeal to the younger Austinites, SPAM Jam will feature entertainment by Leep 27 and Sweet Mo Pea in the Teen Tent from 2 to 5 p.m. on the north side of East Side Lake.

This also is a new feature, Samuel said.

"The SPAM Teen Fest is all new," she said, "Pop and snacks also will be on site. We’re always looking for fresh new ideas to accommodate teens so they can enjoy the music they like to listen to."

Festival Director Dave Dammen knows all about looking for ideas. Dammen has been involved with the SPAMTOWN USA Festival since 1983, when they had the Hog Jog, a five-mile run.

As festival director, Dammen is responsible for his board members and making sure they get their assignments done.

This has turned out to be an easy task, he said.

"I’ve got a good board," he said. "Everyone gets their jobs done. It makes it easy for me with good volunteers."

While he enjoys seeing everything fall into place each year, Dammen has worries, as well.

Particularly what Mother Nature has up her sleeve.

"I’m always worrying about the weather," he said. "You wonder: What if? Three years ago, it was pouring rain on the morning of an event. By 8 a.m., it stopped. You have to plan right to the end."

Call Melissa Bregani at 434-2236 or e-mail her at newsroom@austindailyherald.com.