Though nearly all of Waxahachie turned their eyes to the night sky to see the fireworks from Lumpkins Stadium, those at the 16th annual Crape Myrtle Festival had the best experience of all at the Waxahachie Sports Complex on Wednesday.

Crape Myrtle Festival committee chair Bonney Ramsey might have been the happiest of all to see the crowds filing in and the parking lot filling up with attendees.

“I feel like it’s come together well. The gates are open now, the vendors are set up, the bands are ready and the people are pouring in,” Ramsey said. “This is a great Waxahachie tradition, but more importantly it’s our opportunity to honor our local veterans for their great sacrifice and a chance to celebrate our designation as the Crape Myrtle Capital of Texas.”

Residents enjoyed festival food favorites, cool drinks and treats, fun and games as well as live, original music from Texas bands. Certainly the celebration wouldn’t have been possible without H-E-B, Vintage Bank and the Waxahachie Chamber of Commerce’s endless support.

“It’s an honor to be a part of this celebration and sponsor this event every year,” said Bruce Glaves, H-E-B general manager and newly added Waxahachie Chamber Board of Directors member. “This is a perfect way to celebrate our veterans, our country and all it stands for, not to mention it’s a lot of fun.”

Glaves noted that this year’s event is similar to previous years’ that H-E-B sponsored, though it somes ways it was different.

“I had the experience to come together with the other chamber members to make this event happen. It was nice to finally be a part of that side and see all that goes into it,” he said.

Indeed there was a lot of effort put into the Crape Myrtle Festival and the Waxahachie community took notice by turning out en masse. Waxahachie residents continued to join the festival as the evening cooled, though several tailgaters lined the sports complex practice field as soon as the gates opened. Many could be seen setting up grills, spreading out picnic blankets, unfolding lawns chairs and putting up shade canopies.

Many festivalgoers like the Lovelace and Barfield family fired up their grill to cook up an all-American staple – hotdogs. Cindy and Dave Lovelace’s grandchildren chomped down on warm hotdogs as the adults scooped out some cool cole slaw and potato salad.

“This is our first time to come out to the Crape Myrtle Festival,” Cindy said. “We’re enjoying the music and the grandkids are blowing bubbles.”

Dave said he quite enjoyed the 80-degree weather instead of the typical 100-degree July heat. Their biggest reason for coming to the festival – “I love fireworks,” Cindy said. “I always go wherever they’re having fireworks.”

Eric and Deann Webb sat on their tailgate enjoying Kool-Aid wearing broad brimmed hats to keep the sun off their faces.

“It’s our first-time and I guess we got lucky it’s not too hot,” Eric said. “We heard they were shooting off fireworks. We looked it up online and saw they were going to have bands performing, so we decided we had to come.”

Lexie Buchanan, almost a first-timer, thought this year’s Crape Myrtle Festival would be the perfect outing for her and her three sons Tyler, Ciaah and Asa, ages 10, 4 and 2.

“When you’ve got three little ones, free and fun is good. We’re mainly here for the fireworks, but I love The Ranch (radio station) and I’m really enjoying the music,” Lexie said as Sundance Head rocked the stage to kick off the Road to the Ranch Bash Battle of the Bands.

After hours of South Texas rock, folksy bluegrass and red dirt blues, everyone was ready for the grand finale of the night. H-E-B’s fireworks show exploded across the skies with a blaze and flashes of light eliciting ooh’s and ahh’s from the young and old alike.

Follow Aaron on Facebook at Facebook.com/AaronSchwadererWDL and on Twitter at Twitter.com/AaronSchwaderer. Contact him at 469-517-1456 or a.schwaderer@waxahachietx.com.