JARED FIELDS • PICAYUNE STAFF
BERTRAM — It’s time to put away the grits and celebrate all things oatmeal once again.
The 37th annual Oatmeal Festival returns Aug. 30 to downtown Bertram and, of course, kicks off Aug. 29 in Oatmeal.
“There’s a tremendous amount of participation, not only in Bertram, but the whole area,” said Jim Karolik, an Oatmeal Festival organizer. “And it’s just a funky good time.”
Funky, quirky and silly are all ways to describe the festival. And that’s just what the two towns want.
The festival begins at 5:03 p.m. Aug. 29 with a barbecue dinner at the Oatmeal Community Center, located on FM 243 in Oatmeal. Arts and crafts plus games for kids will be offered. The Miss Oatmeal Pageant begins at 6:33 p.m.
Not to be left out, the popular Groaty Oats Contest returns this year for the guys. The best-looking man dressed like a woman will be crowned the, uh, winner.
The evening also features a cake auction and then ends with a dance with music by Eddie Shell and the Not Guilties.
There is an oatmeal-related reason for the time of the events if you wonder why they begin at either three minutes or 33 minutes past the hour.
Since it began, the festival has been sponsored by 3 Minute Brand Oats.
On the morning of Aug. 30, a trail ride starting from Oatmeal at 8:03 a.m. brings the party to downtown Bertram. At the same time, the Run for your Oats starts underneath the water tower at 220 E. Vaughan St.
The 3.3-mile run is open for registration online until Aug. 28 at 8:30 a.m. or the day of the race until 7:45 a.m. The online registration is at www.runreg.com/oatmeal-festival-run-for-your-oats, and the password is “runforyouroats.”
The run averages 150 runners and features local high school cross-country team runners.
Entries for the oatmeal cook-off will be accepted from 9:03 a.m. to 11:33 a.m. at the Lewis Building, 107 Grange Ave. Contestants can enter any of the seven categories: breads, cakes, pies, cookies, bars, snack mix and low fat/low cholesterol.
A pet parade at 10:03 a.m. precedes the grand parade at 10:33 a.m.
During the parade in downtown Bertram on Vaughan Street, a plane flies overhead and rains oatmeal over the crowd.
Karolik said six 50-pound bags, 300 pounds total, of oatmeal will be dropped this year.
“Bring your buckets and you can go home with free oatmeal for the next year,” he said.
Music, vendors and games fill up the afternoon. There is a washer tournament plus traditional Oatmeal Festival games such as the cow chip kick-off, the oatmeal box stacking, the oatmeal eating contest, the chamber pot tortilla toss and the egg toss.
Free Wi-Fi will be offered downtown by SOS Communications. Visitors can use it, and it allows vendors to accept debit and credit cards at booths.
The festival concludes the night of Aug. 30 with a street dance featuring People’s Choice at 9:03 p.m. No glass containers are allowed at the dance and admittance is $10 per person.
Visit www.oatmealfestival.com for more information and a full schedule.