Lewisville Leader > News
Rain heavily affects Western Days
Officials were hoping the 2012 Western Days Festival would be the biggest yet, but heavy rain dashed those hopes away.
The festival was held Sept. 28 and 29 in Old Town Lewisville. On the first day of the festival, there were brief breaks in the rain, but the second day saw heavy rain throughout. In 2011, approximately 24,630 people attended the event, and city officials said this year's numbers will be much lower.
"The rain affected Western Days tremendously," said James Kunke, community relations and tourism director. "Friday attendance was down, but the revenue appeared the same. However, Saturday's heavy, steady rain brought attendance down. We had less than 1,000 people attend the main headliner's concert, which is much lower than last year."
Kunke said he did not have the official number of attendees for this year's festival.
"Unfortunately, having fall back date isn't possible because every weekend in September and October, there's another event going on," Kunke said. "Since we brought back the festival in 2004, this is only the second time we had torrential rain."
The festival included cooking demonstrations by chefs including Chef Morris Salerno, chef/owner of The Grotto in Highland Village and Salerno's in Flower Mound. It also included a car and boat show and a children's area.
The festival also featured live music by Josh Abbott and Randy Rogers. In addition the festival included arts and crafts vendors, gunfight re-enactments, trick ropers, children's fishing area, Tailwaggers Ranch pet zone, First Choice Power Food Court, an exhibit of Western art and sculpture at the MCL Grand and community performances at the Medical Center of Lewisville Grand Theatre.
"We were able to bring some things in from the outside. Some things closed early Saturday, all the vendors left by about 5 p.m. We brought the last four concerts inside the MCL Grand," Kunke said. "Even though it was a small crowd, those who came to Saturday's Josh Abbott concert got a cozy 300-person auditorium performance, which is rare."
The eighth annual World Tamale Eating Championship was one of the activities that remained outside. Rain-soaked crowds watched Joey "Jaws" Chesnut, the top-ranked competitive eater in the world according to Major League Eating, eat 102 tamales in 12 minutes to set a world record and win the championship. He beat Tim "Eater X" Janus, a four-time winner of the tamale championship and holder of the previous world record. Janus placed second with a total of 87 tamales - 16 more than the former record.
"The tamale discipline is among the most difficult in the competitive eating world, requiring significant jaw strength and stomach capacity," said George Shea, chairman of Major League Eating. "Watching the event is enough to quicken the pulse and lift the heart of any American who has both."
Chesnut received $1,500 for placing first. Janus, a New York City resident who attended Southern Methodist University in Dallas, received $1,000 for placing second. Seventh-ranked Adrian Morgan of Baton Rouge placed third for the third consecutive year, eating 68 tamales for a personal-best total that earned a $500 prize.
Other top finishers were Juan Rodriguez of Las Vegas; Nate Biller of Wichita Falls; and Yasir Salem, a Texas native now living in New York City. Making a surprise top-10 finish was first-time competitor Cole Ellis, a Lewisville firefighter/paramedic who won a city employee contest to earn a spot at the table.