Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Shivaree turns 50

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This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Gatesville Shivaree. The first Shivaree, which took place on the courthouse square, was on Aug. 3, 1974.

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.

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).”

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, May 30, until Saturday, June 1. The Shivaree celebration will return to downtown Gatesville for one central hub of celebratory events, including a new event, the Shivaree Downtown Showdown Doubles Pickleball Tournament, which will be held in Raby Park.

Mason Matthews issued the following statement about this year’s Shivaree: “It is an honor to serve as the President of the Gatesville Chamber of Commerce for the 50th Anniversary of the Gatesville Shivaree. It is a true testament of the Gatesville community to have supported the event for the last 50 years and allowed its continuation. Growing up in Gatesville, I always remember as a kid riding the Shivaree trolleys up and down South 7th Street from the Courthouse Square down to Faunt Le Roy Park. This year’s Shivaree will feature a local carnival, Color the Shivaree – Fun Run 5K Sponsored by Coryell Health that will start near Faunt Le Roy Park, Shivaree Downtown Showdown Doubles Pickleball Tournament partnered with the Gatesville Tennis Association and the Gatesville Pickleball Club at the Raby Park pickleball courts, 50th Anniversary Shivaree Car, Jeep, Truck, and Motorcycle Show starting in Raby Park and overflow to go into Faunt Le Roy Park, petting zoo provided by Hal and Jo’s Funny Farm, various food and knick-knack vendors, and a concert with Texas-Country music singer Carson Jeffrey. This year the event will come back to its roots and (will) be located in downtown Gatesville with the focal point of the event being the historic Coryell County Courthouse Square.”

The Carnival will operate on Thursday, May 30, through Saturday, June 1 and will be located at the corner of 7th Street and Bridge Street (across from the Gatesville City Pool). Thursday and Friday they will operate from 7-10 p.m. The cost will be $25 per person, and children must be at least 36" tall to purchase a wristband. On Saturday, the carnival will open at 10 a.m. and only individual tickets will be offered.

The 50th Anniversary Shivaree Car, Jeep, Truck and Motorcycle Show will be located starting in Raby Park with overflow going into Faunt Le Roy. It will be on Saturday, June 1 and will start at 11 a.m.

The 5K Color the Shivaree Run will follow the path of the Donut Dash and start at the corner of the northwest corner of Raby Park on Saturday, June 1, starting at 8 a.m.

The Shivaree Downtown Showdown Doubles Pickleball Tournament will last for two days: Saturday, June 1, and Sunday, June 2, at the courts in Raby Park

Entertainment for the Shivaree will feature Carson Jeffrey who will perform on the courthouse square on Saturday, June 1, at 7 p.m. "Doors" open at 6 p.m.

For more information about Shivaree events, please contact the Gatesville Chamber of Commerce at 254-865-2617.