Fire Ant Festival
East Texas has long been home to one of the peskiest critters in the south…the fire ant. A tiny red ant whose bite seems to sting and burn forever, fire ants are generally regarded as a scourge in the areas they infest. During the second weekend of October however, the species, represented by three of its gentler members, will be center stage in Marshall, Texas, during the annual FireAnt Festival.
Conceptualized as a fundraiser for the Marshall Chamber of Commerce in the early 1980s, and billed as one of the “wildest and zaniest” festivals around, FireAnt Festival still serves as one of the Chamber’s biggest annual fundraisers. During its early days, two giant fire ant costumes were hand crafted in Arlington, Texas especially for the festival. With one costume a female, and the other a male, it was only natural that these two ants; Freddy and Elvira, would fall in love and marry. A few years later, another handmade costume was made for the festival, and the entire town was involved and excited when Freddy and Elvira had a daughter. Sugar, was “born” with much fanfare in Marshall’s local hospital and made headlines around the nation.
Featured on the David Letterman Show, the Oprah show, Good Morning America, and the Discovery Channel, the FireAnt Festival has attracted national attention for Marshall, and during its more than three decades in existence has become a “must attend” festival for visitors. FireAnt Festival is held in coordination with Marshall Main Street’s monthly downtown event Second Saturday, providing an afternoon car show, and even more entertainment and shopping opportunities for visitors.