Katy Rice Festival planners set to put on ‘one of the best ones we’ve had’

By R. Hans Miller, News Editor
Posted 9/28/21

The city of Katy is winding up for the annual Katy Rice Festival which begins with a parade on Oct. 2 and will follow with three days of festivities Oct. 8, 9 and 10. Organizers say this year’s …

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Katy Rice Festival planners set to put on ‘one of the best ones we’ve had’

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The city of Katy is winding up for the annual Katy Rice Festival which begins with a parade on Oct. 2 and will follow with three days of festivities Oct. 8, 9 and 10. Organizers say this year’s focus was on putting together a festival honoring Katy traditions and keeping a hometown, non-commercial feel.

“We received an overwhelming amount of people that wanted the event to continue,” said Katy Assistant City Administrator Anas Garfaoui. “So, to cap it off, we just wanted to keep it traditional, not the commercial feel that you see at other events.”

Garfaoui said the festival’s planning committee focused on getting vendors that would focus on local crafts and products that weren’t overly industrialized or had a salesy feel. As a result, no insurance sales, political agendas or high-pressure sales vendors were brought in as vendors this year. Instead, he said, the focus remains on entertainment, family activities, live music and supporting local.

The focus is also on fun and making sure there’s something included in the annual carnival for the whole family to enjoy, Garfaoui said. This year’s carnival includes the Kids & Teens Zone which will feature inflatables, carnival activities, a DJ with music for younger attendees to appreciate, actors depicting popular children’s characters and food that is child friendly.

“There’ll be a whole entertainment side just for the kids and teens. There’ll be some acts that come in that are specifically for children,” Garfaoui said.

It isn’t all about the tikes and teens though, said Tourism and Marketing Assistant Ashley Lipsman. This year’s festival will include plenty of attractions for adults as well with food, beer and several live music acts including Katy’s own Hayden Baker. Additional acts include Meagan Tubb and the Shady People, Louisiana-based fiddler Amanda Shaw and Houston’s Moodafaruka, among others.

Katy Mayor Bill Hastings said he was proud of the way staff had come together to set up a great festival that includes musical acts. He’s especially happy that the musical acts will be on two stages – one in front of City Hall facing Avenue C and one under the city’s iconic water tower in the Katy Downtown Plaza.

“We have gone to great measures to utilize our plaza this year,” Hastings said. “… I’m looking forward to it. I think it’s going to be one of the best ones we’ve had.”

Garfaoui also acknowledged the importance of the Katy Rice Festival for the antique stores and boutiques that line the plaza. The business owners in the area depend on the festival to bring an influx of visitors – and thus income – into downtown which helps them meet annual financial goals.

To maximize the support those Old Katy District businesses are looking for accompanies the festival, Garfaoui said organizers have set up a scavenger hunt. Festival-goers can participate in the event and go to the different stores throughout the weekend and win gift cards for finding everything on the scavenger hunt list.

“So, people can go from store to store and win a gift card from one of the shops there,” Garfaoui said. “So that will drive even more people into the shops.

City Administrator Byron Hebert said the city is glad the Rice Festival tradition can go on despite the challenges of past organizers stepping away and the pandemic. It’s a community event that is needed, especially in hard times.

Garfaoui said the planning committee has kept a close eye on the pandemic to ensure the Katy Rice Festival is safe for attendees. They’ve kept an eye on festivals throughout Texas to see what safety precautions and concerns have arisen and how they were mitigated. As a result, the city feels confident that it is safe to move forward with the festival. Handwashing stations and sanitizer stations will be set up throughout the downtown area to ensure safety and festival attendees are encouraged to take advantage of them.

Hastings also applauded the Rotary Club of Katy’s involvement in the Katy Rice Festival. Proceeds from the festival are handed over to Rotarians to fund programs in the Katy area community such as scholarships for Katy ISD students.

“The Rotary Club has been very instrumental in helping us get to that point (of using the festival to support the community) because they’re probably … the only organization that gives back 100% of what they receive to the community itself,” Hastings said. “They have no overhead – no salaries – and they’re a great organization.”

City management also praised Lindsay Kerr, Hebert's executive assistant, for her work in raising more than $85,000 in sponsorship funding for this year's event.

The Katy Rice Festival and its predecessor, the Katy Rice Harvest Festival, have been ongoing for more than 40 years.

“From the first one all the way through, I missed one, one year. So this one is going to be the best,” Hastings said.

The Katy Rice Festival kicks off Saturday, Oct. 2 with the annual parade with the festival itself being held in downtown Katy near the intersection of Avenue C and Second Street the following weekend.

“I definitely love the parade and the actual festival itself,” Mayor Pro Tem Chris Harris said. “I just enjoy being down there and walking around and saying hello to all of the visitors and residents. It’s a fun time to be in Katy. Everybody’s there, so I can’t wait.”

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