By Heather Regula, Correspondent
The rain held off, and the weather was gorgeous for Saturday’s Festival on the Chisholm Trail. Downtown Belton Merchant’s Association (DBMA) typically hosts Market Days on the third Saturday of each month. The DBMA, formed in 2008, is a volunteer organization comprised of like-minded business owners working together to promote business and community activities.
“Special events like this bring more people to downtown Belton. We changed up Market Days a little for this festival – we were open 1p.m.-9p.m., instead of the usual 9a.m.-4p.m., and there is live music. Vendors paid $25 per space unless they’re members of our association and pricing is reduced. Today my job was to help the vendors get set up in the right spot. I love interacting with these people,” explained Michelle Purtlebaugh, Vice President and Assistant Coordinator for the Downtown Belton Merchant’s Association.
Project Celebration is a statewide effort to keep kids safe and alcohol-free throughout the school year, and especially at school-related celebrations. Tiffany Maxwell, President of Project Celebration for Belton High School, was manning her booth during Saturday’s festivities.
“Today, we are pre-selling wreaths. The money we raise will go towards our graduation celebration. There are over 800 seniors this year including both Belton High School and New Tech. The night of graduation, we will provide dinner for the seniors, and then have a night long event at the CAC. All students who sign up for Project Celebration will receive a gift that will benefit them in college,” stated Maxwell. “We are 100 percent donation-driven, and anyone wanting to get involved or donate can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our meetings are at 6 p.m. on the first Monday of each month, at New Tech. Anyone interested in getting involved or wanting more information can attend.”
The melancholy and classic drone of the bagpipes, as played by piper Scott Wilson, filled the air Saturday and captured the attention of passersby. Members of Post 1298 Scottish American Military Society, a national organization, made up of active soldiers and veterans of Scottish descent, had a booth set up at the Festival on the Chisholm Trail.
“We are here primarily recruiting. In the last month, we have signed up a record four new members. We are also passing out information on upcoming events,” said Commander George Shott.
People walking down East First Street were excitedly greeted by the smell of fresh popcorn and the beaming faces of two young girls who were passing out swag bags including a mirror, pen, and magnet, courtesy of Royal Love Beauty Spa. The business, owned by Samantha Davis, opened on July 1 and is located on East First Street, in the same building as Arusha’s and My Giving Tree. More information about services offered can be found on Facebook or by calling 254-613-4362.
“My husband, Kim, retired from 26 years of service in the Army last year, and we decided to open a business that would allow us to have more time with our kids. Downtown Belton is beautiful, and I love being part of this generous community. This area is one of a kind, and we are so happy to be part of it,” remarked Davis.
People of all ages and quite a few furry friends meandered down the streets of downtown Belton, enjoying the sights and sounds of the Festival on the Chisholm Trail. A favorite vendor was Christian Lamberson, AKA Mr. BoJandals, of Austin. He was selling all sizes and colors of the in-demand Pali Hawaii “Jandals” sandals.
“I grew up in the Austin area. My parents used to have a boutique in Wimberly called ‘The Wild Heart,’ and these sandals were one of their top-selling items. I noticed the Jandals were selling so well that I began selling them online and at Wimberly Market Days,” explained Lamberson.
After selling the shoes for a few years, Lamberson went back to school and got a degree in business. He went back to selling Jandals after graduating last year.
“I never considered myself a salesman, but I did notice that I liked something, I could sell it and not feel bad about pushing it on people. I do love the Pali Hawaii sandals, and I’ve been wearing them since 2002. It’s easy to sell something when you believe in it. For $10 a pair, you really can’t feel bad,” stated Lamberson. “I carry all of the colors that the sandals come in, and I just got the new red ones. These sandals symbolize relaxation and a carefree attitude. You used only to be able to get these in Hawaii. People would go to Hawaii, buy a pair and bring them back home with them. So, if you had a pair, then everyone knew you had recently been to Hawaii! Jandals have become popular back here in the mainland. I love coming out to these markets and selling the shoes. I’ve never been to Belton – this place is amazing!”
Mark Rivzy, a student at Texas Tech, was running a booth for 1836 Heritage, a family-owned business focused on celebrating Texas history through the apparel they sell. Rivzy, a graduate of Central Texas Christian School, is studying financial planning at Texas Tech.
“I’ve been in Belton since I was 10 years old. I consider this to be my hometown. My brother, sister in law, and I work in this business together. We design our shirts based on Texas history,” explained Rivzy. “This is our first year in business. Texas history is a vibrant history, and we are honored to share it with people. Texans are very proud, and our history gives us a lot to be proud of.”
Rivzy was selling several shirts of 1836 Heritage design, and premiering a new model. The signature shirt, also the most popular, features an outline of The Alamo, with words from William Barrett Travis’ letter, written within the walls of The Alamo, asking for assistance. Travis famously addressed his letter to all Texans and Americans, and signed it “Victory or death.” Travis’ letter is a sentimental and moving piece of Texas history.
Live music provided by the Branded Heart Band closed out the Festival on the Chisholm Trail on Saturday. The Downtown Belton Merchant’s Association did a fantastic job of hosting this well-attended event. The next Market Days will be from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. on Saturday, November 18th. December Market Days will be a special event with different times, on December 2. More information is available at http://www.downtownbelton.com/market-days.