A history worth mentioning
First envisioned in the spring of 1947, the Neches River Festival plans were underway in 1948, and on the 12th day of May, 1949, a charter was obtained from the State of Texas for a nonprofit organization named the “Neches River Festival, Inc.”.
The first Neches River Festival made its debut in Beaumont on May 28-29, 1949. T.T. Hunt, then editor of the Beaumont Enterprise, was the first General Chairman. The tremendous enthusiasm of many people was offset by the complete lack of money. It didn’t matter; everyone pitched in to help. The Beaumont Chamber of Commerce donated office space and furnished secretaries. Local merchants and florists donated their time and merchandise to produce the Pageant and Queen’s Ball. City officials contributed technical assistance, police security and help from other city departments.
The first Royal Court was composed of 11 Duchesses and 6 Princesses. Following the coronation a street dance was held surrounding City Hall. The first Neches River Festival Regatta was held at the City Docks with 18 races, visiting yachts, and hundreds of spectators lining the docks. The first festival parade, held in 1950, included 28 commercial floats as well as a colorful array of bands. Over the past 71 years, the Neches River Festival has sought to emphasize our greatest natural resource, the Neches River.
Riverfront activities, fireworks displays, water carnivals, ski shows, boat shows and regattas have, over the years, been centered around our river in celebration of its tremendous impact on our economy and its growth. The Neches River Festival also has included a variety of events and exhibitions during “Festival week”: a city-wide parade, a bridge tournament, art show and competition and flower show, to name a few.
The second and perhaps greatest area of emphasis for the past years has remained unchanged. The Neches River Festival celebrates our youth. The Festival keys in on high school seniors. In the last 13 years, the Neches River Festival has presented over 1,600 Princesses and has hosted approximately 670 visiting Duchesses and their families. When Escorts are included, over 4,500 young adults have been involved in Neches River Festival activities during this twelve-year period. Because these young people are so important to our community, the Neches River Festival has generously funded two scholarships at Lamar University, open specifically to the local young men and women who participate in the Festival each year. This scholarship is named in honor and memory of Otho Plummer, Jr., a man who played an integral part in both Lamar University and the Neches River Festival for many years.
The Neches River Festival is proud of its history and its tradition of community support and involvement. We look forward to continued recognition and celebration of the Southeast Texas area and its youth.
69th president chris miller
Chris Miller as tour guide on The Ivory Bill during a ride on the Neches River and the Port of Beaumont.
nrf 69 parade - Past Presidents float
Past Presidents, from left to right: Bernie Daleo, President LXVI; Steve McGrade, President LXVII; Eric Meadows, President LXVIII and Will Leonard, President LXV.