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A pecan festival is a public event that is built around the celebration of the many ways in which pecans can be used in different types of cuisine. Typically, a festival of this type will take place in an area where pecans are grown in season and will feature events such as contests to determine the best dessert or recipe that includes the use of pecans, a selection of vendors offering pecan-based products, and even the selection of a pecan king and queen for the occasion. In some instances, commercial producers of different types of pecan products will lease space for exhibits as a means of capturing the attention of pecan lovers and increasing sales.
The exact structure of a pecan festival will depend a great deal on the festival location and the demographics of the people who are likely to attend the event. It is not unusual for communities to hold festivals of this type on an annual basis, usually scheduling the pecan festival to coincide with the height of the pecan season. In smaller communities, this type of event is often considered a major social gathering for the season, and provides the opportunity for the community to come together for some fun and entertainment.
Key to any pecan festival is the proper planning of the event. It is not unusual for a planning committee to work on the project throughout the year. This is especially true when attendance and participation in the event is large enough to merit hiring professional entertainers to offer concerts during the course of the festival, or invite manufacturers of different pecan products to lease space for exhibits. A planning committee will typically seek to find ways to fund the expenses related to holding the pecan festival by selling that exhibit space and holding periodic fundraisers that help to pay for the entertainment. Any profits made from one festival are often held over to help defray the costs involved in the planning and execution of the next one.
All sorts of activities may take place during the course of a pecan festival. Along with crowning a king and queen for the event, contests built around different pecan dishes may be held, offering ribbons and other awards for the recipes that are judged to be the best by a pre-selected panel of judges for each category. Local vendors may sell pecan logs, pecan pies, bags of raw or roasted pecans, and frozen dishes like pecan ice cream. Other vendors offer food items that are suitable for lunch and dinner, making it possible for people to come to the pecan festival and stay all day.
The duration of a pecan festival will vary. In some areas, the festival will be a one-day event. At other times, the festival may be held over the course of a weekend. When a holiday is observed on the day before or after the weekend, there is also the chance that the festival will be a three-day event.