Origination and History of the Oatmeal Festival

The Oatmeal Festival began in 1978 as a spoof of the many chili cook-offs that take place in Texas. Most every small town has their own festival to get “city folks” to come out and spend a few bucks, and everybody has a good time. We had the rural community of Oatmeal as our neighbor to the south, and it was simply too good an idea to overlook. Speaking of Oatmeal, the folks who put together the official map of the State of Texas at that time had also decided to leave Oatmeal off the map because there was not an intersection of main highways there. Well, something had to be done. Now we had a cause!  Ken Odiorne, who had lived in the Oatmeal community (in an area he knew as Ignert Ridge), dreamed it all up, and with a little prodding from some good folks got it all going. He wrote to all the major producers of oatmeal (the cereal, that is) and asked them for some assistance. Only National Oats, the maker of 3 Minutes Oats, responded. 

Oatmeal (the town) is back on the map, and we have a lot of folks who come home to the country every Labor Day Weekend, no matter the weather, because everyone looks forward to the Oatmeal Festival. Over the years the money raised has provided high-school students with college scholarships, and built an open-air pavilion in Bertram as well as a community center down in Oatmeal. Scholarships are given to local high school graduates every year. In addition, financial assistance has been given to many local events including the Easter Egg Hunt, Santa’s Workshop, and the Burnet County Livestock Show. 

Friday Night The Oatmeal Festival always begins with a barbecue at the Oatmeal Community Center, about 5 miles southwest of Bertram. There are many things of historical interest in the Oatmeal Community, including one of the oldest buildings in the county, an old rock church. It sits on the top of a hill overlooking a beautiful countryside. Just below the church is an old brush arbor where the church used to meet when the weather was too hot to be comfortable in the building. 

On Saturday the festivities move to Bertram, beginning on Saturday morning with a 5K fun run at 8:03, a Pet Parade at 9:33, and the Grand Parade at 10:33. There are floats from nearby cities, businesses, the Shriners, and political candidates, especially in an election year. 

Saturday Noon & After The fun continues after the parade with a barbecue at the Bertram Pavilion. Volunteers serve a generous portion of brisket, chicken, or a combination of both. There are pinto beans, potato salad, coleslaw, onions, bread, and iced tea — a typical Texas feast. There are many deserts if you still have room. 

After a hearty meal, enjoy the fun and games in the downtown area. If you like music, you will not be disappointed as there are bands playing throughout the day on the main stage as well as the historic Globe Theater. As a grand finale, the festival closes with a headlining musician and street dance on Vaughan St, so be sure to bring your nicest boots and be ready to 2-Step the night away! 


Ken Odiorne and his Sugar enjoying the Oatmeal Festival
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