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This year will mark the 49th anniversary of the Gatesville Shivaree. The first Shivaree took place on Aug. 3, 1974, and next year Gatesville will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the special event.

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The very first Shivaree was sponsored by the Greater Gatesville Chamber of Commerce, embellishing on the old fiddler’s festival which had been taking place mid-summer each year. The idea of having a Shivaree became a multi-faceted event in hopes to incorporate and include the entire community on the downtown courthouse square which would become the focal point of the festivities. At the time of its inception, the event was described as an “old-fashioned” Shivaree.

Why the term “Shivaree” was chosen is unknown. Traditionally, a Shivaree was a folk custom designed for the wedding night of a bride and groom and consisted of loud noises and merrymaking that would keep the newlyweds awake. Generally, everyone in the community would take part in the event.

In later years, the word took on a new meaning and was described as a custom of good cheer in which the community would unite in a time of celebration. In 1974, chamber members decided to incorporate this term with the old fiddler’s festival, which became a yearly tradition that carries on to this day.

In addition to the 1974 fiddling festival, plans were made for a concert by the Kitchen Band, a square dance with Ray Stewart as the caller, followed by a street dance. Other activities that took place at the original event included a sidewalk sale and white elephant sale; an exhibit of antique cars, spurs, barbed wire, dolls, and old-time farm equipment; a quilting bee; and an auction of antiques, furniture, and top-rated merchandise with proceeds to benefit the Coryell Memorial Hospital’s $500,000 fund-raising campaign. At the time, Chamber of Commerce president David Barnard, was quoted as saying “We’re hoping to raise a lot of money (for the hospital).”

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Other activities at the first Shivaree included such games as Mumblety-peg, washer pitching, horseshoe pitching tournaments, and a domino contest; a starving artist sale and unique craft sale; and a concessions alley featuring such treats as corn-on-the-cob, cold cider, popcorn balls, and watermelon.

In a 1974 edition of The Gatesville Messenger, the first Shivaree was advertised as being “a show sure to please, no matter what your fancy.”

Since the first celebration, over the years the Shivaree has grown in an enormous way. Today, instead of a single day event, the Shivaree now encompasses three days.

This year, the Shivaree will have three days of activities for the community to enjoy from Thursday, June 1, until Saturday, June 3.

On June 1, there will be a carnival operating from 7-10 p.m. on the grounds of the historic Cotton Belt Depot. In addition to the carnival, on Friday, June 2, Shivaree vendors will be displaying their wares at Market Day Booths from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. at the Texas Station Events Center. Vendors will feature baked goods, cooking supplies, jellies and jams, jerky and spices, handiwork and crafts, and cooking supplies. This date will also include a BBQ Cook-Off.

A Shivaree Stand Up Comedy Show will take place on June 2 featuring Chris Crawford. The family-friendly show will begin at 7 p.m. at the Texas Station Event Center with adult comedy beginning at 9 p.m. Food and beverage trucks will be on site to provide refreshments for those attending.

The final day of the Shivaree will include a Color Run starting at 8 a.m. at the Cotton Belt Depot. Live music will take place at Texas Station that evening from 6-7 p.m. followed be a performance by the band Ricochet with special guest Landon Heights. Also performing will be Not So Jazz Band – Jazz Band, and local musicians Mike and Bailey Shae Dickie.

From its humble beginnings 49 years ago, Gatesville’s Shivaree has turned into a three-day event that provides fun and entertainment for adults and children.