Beaumont Maypole Festival set to return, May 7
What better way to usher in the summer than a picnic on the grounds of the Beaumont Botanical Gardens while children play, and dancers wrap brightly colored ribbons around a Maypole?
After a two-year hiatus, the Beaumont Maypole Festival will return to Tyrell Park, May 7. This traditional festival to bless the crops dates back 2,000 years to Roman Britain. The Beaumont Festival doesn’t quite date back that far with the first festival, organized by The Moon and the Stars Committee, held in 2014.
“We’re calling it the sixth annual, even though it’s been eight years — we’re not counting these last two,” spokesperson Sandra Hammerling said.
The Maypole tradition began as a festival for farmers as a blessing of the crops, Hammerling said, and was also a chance for people to relax before the hard summer work.
“It was like the last hurrah for the children because those kids had to go work in the field,” she said.
Of course, the children aren’t being sent to the fields nowadays, but Hammerling said it’s a chance to have a nice, relaxing afternoon while the children participate in activities.
“We like to keep the kids busy,” Hammerling said. “We always have some kind of ring toss or game for the kids to do. And then there’s that big koi pond out in the back. We have little bags of fish food that the kids can get and go out there and feed the fish and watch those big koi come up and eat. That keeps them busy. And there’s a lot of running and tumbling.
The gardens will open at 9 a.m., and the festival runs until 6 p.m., with the wrapping of the Maypole at 4:30 p.m. The event is traditionally held on Mother’s Day weekend, and Hammerling said the wrapping ceremony, performed by students from the Bonnie Cokinos School of Dance, is the perfect way to cap off a busy day in Beaumont.
“We know there’s a lot going on that day in Beaumont, and we hope everybody does get out and hit them all,” Hammerling said. “Beaumont does have a lot to offer. We wrap the Maypole at 4:30, so you want to do all your in-town stuff and end up with us out in the gardens.”
Hammerling said there will be several vendors, including the Cajunxion food truck, and music will be provided by Still Cruisin’. Vendors are still being added, she said.
The Maypole Festival was started to honor Paula “Torchy” Salter, who was a fixture in Beaumont’s arts and social scene. The Moon and Stars Committee is named for the motto for Torchy’s boutique, “Bringing You the Moon and the Stars.”
“Torchy was what I call a spirit in this community,” Hammerling said. “It was her loving, giving, just happy spirit that she brought into every room that she was in. And that type of spirit is what we wanted — families and people getting together and laughing and hugging and having a good day.”
The Maypole itself was built through donations and from funds raised through the annual Hot Tropic Nights art auction held in January. The pole’s topper was made by renowned Beaumont artist David Cargill.
While the event is free, any money raised goes toward maintenance of the Botanical Gardens. T-shirts, designed by Ines Alvidres, will be available for sale.
“Our fundraising comes from the vendors, the more spots we sell, the better we do,” Hammerling said. “And we usually have margaritas — we don’t sell them, but you can get one and put money in a tip jar.”
Attendees may bring blankets and chairs, and their own refreshments if they choose, Hammerling said. The air-conditioned pavilion will also be open, and the event will be move inside in case of inclement weather.
“Sometimes it’s hot, sometimes it’s raining, but if it’s raining, we’ll move inside,” Hammerling said.
Whatever the weather, the crops still need to be blessed, so take advantage of a chance to celebrate nature surrounded by beautiful plants and flowers.
For more information, visit the Beaumont Maypole Festival Facebook page, or email email@example.com.
Beaumont Botanical Gardens are located at Tyrell Park, 6088 Babe Zaharias Drive.
This story first ran in the April 29, 2022 Art of Living section of The Beaumont Enterprise.