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Local nonprofit organization, Donna Events Inc. hosted the 5th Annual Chisholm Trail Festival recently, in downtown Donna.

The festival is a celebration of the historical Chisholm Trail cattle drives of the 1800s. The event aims to shine a light on the historical and cultural significance the cowboys of yesteryear had on the history of the city.

The festival kicked off with a Round Up Dance and Dinner on Friday evening at the Donna Hooks Fletcher Historical Museum Courtyard. Guests enjoyed a delicious classic steak and potatoes. Those in attendance said they were very impressed with the hospitality on display.

At the dinner, Dr. Celestino Avila, Sr., was honored as the “2017 Cowboy of the Year.” Dr. Avila has been a lifelong resident of Donna, Texas. He has served his community by providing healthcare to Donna residents and takes pride in representing his community. According to the RGV Hall of Fame website Dr. Avila Sr. was a three-year letterman in football, basketball, and track with the Donna Redskins. And, he received an honorable mention All-State honors in football.

Post-high school, Avila went to Southwest Texas State, now known as Texas State University in San Marcos, where he was also a three-year letterman in football. He can be found on the Texas State Bobcat’s Hall of Honor web page under the Induction Class of 1986. Dr. Avila, Sr., was joined by his family as he received his award from state Rep. Armando “Mando” Martinez.

Following the award a live auction occurred at the Round Up dinner. Participants got to bid on several items to raise money for next year’s event. Many attendees went home very happy with their bid items and also got to do it for a good cause. A deep-sea fishing trip, spa certificates, coolers, and a guitar were some of the bidding items that lucky bidders got to take home. Organizers said the event was a “win-win” for everyone who attended. Event hosts were seen enjoying the dance alongside community members where music was provided by The Shotgun Band.

That same evening several cook off participants camped out overnight to prepare for competition. Music was heard playing throughout the night as competitors prepared their meats for Saturday morning. On Saturday, competitors were up as early as 4 a.m. to begin the day. Categories of the cook of were chicken, ribs, brisket, and jackpot categories included fajita, beans, and pan de campo. Throughout the day onlookers could smell the aroma of BBQ smoke. The competition was fierce but competitors could be seen enjoying their time with friend and family supporters.

After a competitive cook off winners got to take home cash prizes. Fred Robles, head cook for the Rio Valley Meat cooking team took Grand Champion and David Gonzales head cook for the Blowin’ Smoke cooking team took Reserve Grand Champion. The fierce competition made the cook off even more exciting for everyone who participated. Raymondville native and head cook for the Smoking Triggers cooking team, Christopher Medrano said: “It was a great turn out and there were a lot of really good competitors. We didn’t get to take any cash home, but it’s not about winning. It’s about having fun and enjoying the love of BBQ with friends and family. We’ll definitely be back next year!”.

The 5th Annual Chisholm Trail had a very diverse crowd. Children of all ages, couples, Winter Texans, and citizens from all across the Valley came to enjoy the festival. Food and craft vendors were lined up throughout the day and visitors had a variety of food items and crafts to shop from. Children were seeing enjoying the kiddie rides all day long. The crowd favorite was a camel, children were able to take photos alongside the camel and ride it, too.

Many children were seen enjoying the mechanical rides and playing at the park playground with their parents. Two stages were set up for guests to enjoy live music throughout the day. During the day, local bands played on a stage set up on Miller Avenue. Later in the evening headliners performed on a stage located on South Main St. Winter Texans were spotted enjoying the day by listening to music at the band stages on their lawn chairs.

As the evening went by, the crowd grew in number at the Chisholm Trail Festival. The festival had approximately 15,000 guests throughout the day. To the end the night, festival goers enjoyed music by headliner, Josh Abbott Band. The crowd was thrilled when David Lee Garza was brought out to perform alongside the band.

The organizers, Donna Events, Inc., said they would like to thank the community for coming out and celebrating this historical tradition for the City of Donna. “We look forward to making this growing event bigger and better every year for community members and people from all across the Rio Grande Valley,” said Robert Escobar, president of Donna Events, Inc.