A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from December 08, 2006
Yamboree

The city of Gilmer in East Texas has held its yam festival, called Yamboree, since 1935. It’s said to be the oldest continuing food festival in Texas.


Handbook of Texas Online
GILMER, TEXAS. Gilmer, the county seat of Upshur County, is on U.S. Highway 271 and State highways 155 and 154 thirty-five miles northeast of Tyler and twenty-two northwest of Longview in the central part of the county. When the county was established in 1846, provision required that the county seat be located within five miles of the geographic center and that it be called Gilmer, for Thomas W. Gilmer, who died during the test firing of a new cannon on the USS Princeton on February 28, 1844. The same explosion also killed United States secretary of state Abel P. Upshur. On December 15, 1846, when the fifth district court first met in Upshur County, Judge Oran M. Roberts held court in a grove of six oak trees at the residence of William H. Hart and declared that site the location of Gilmer until a more permanent location could be selected. The Gilmer post office opened in 1847. In 1848 county voters selected the permanent site. The original site came to be called Old Gilmer and was gradually abandoned; a historic marker on the Cherokee Trace three miles north of Gilmer marks the original site. Bethesda Masonic Lodge No. 142 received a charter in 1853 and sponsored the Gilmer Masonic Male Academy (1854). In 1861 the lodge rented the school building to Morgan H. Looney, who established Looney School; from 1868 to 1871 O. M. Roberts taught there. In 1860 Gilmer had twenty-five businesses, seven physicians, six law offices, two churches (Methodist and Baptist), two academies, and the post office. During the Civil War Gilmer businesses provided hats and leather goods to the Confederate States of America. Shortly after the war ended, members of the Ku Klux Klan beat up Meshack Roberts, a former slave of O. B. Roberts, who had helped him to become a landowner.

In its early years Gilmer served as a cotton-ginning center; it once had six gins in operation, and one continued until the 1950s. In 1890 farmers in the county began producing sweet potatoes but had to quarantine the crop in the late 1920s because of an infestation of sweet-potato weevils. When the quarantine lifted, residents organized the East Texas Yamboree, a fall festival to celebrate the sweet potato harvest; the first festival was held in October 1935. In the late 1980s the annual festival continued, with some 30,000 to 40,000 people attending in 1987. At that time it was one of the oldest continuing festivals in East Texas.

17 June 1935, Dallas Morning News, “Yamboree Will Feature Sweet Potato Show,” section 2, pg. 8:
GILMER, Texas, June 16.—Gilmer’s Yamboree, to be held during sweet potato harvest this fall, will be a two-day event built around an East Texas sweet potato show.

25 October 1935, Mexia (TX) Weekly Herald, pg. 4:
YAMBOREE HELD
GILMER, Oct. 18 (U.P.)—Judges at the East Texas Yamboree which opened here today decided that “the glory that was Greece and grandeur that was Rome” couldn’t compare with yam pie baked by Misinex Adkinson of Bettie, Texas.

29 November 1935, Newport (RI) Mercury and Weekly News, pg. 4:
YAMS AND SWEET POTATOES.
When an article in a recent issue of a Texas weekly failed to make a distinction between yams and sweet potatoes, considerable of a flurry was caused among writers on other papers who found themselves in divided schools of thought. “Are yams sweet potatoes or are sweet potatoes yams?” seemed to be the question. Some said there was no distinction. The New York Sun declared that “to the purest, yams are no more sweet potatoes than simlins are Hubbard squash.”

But none seemed to grasp the true significance of the article in the Texas paper that commented on this form of tuber, and described Texas yam week, and a “yamboree” in a certain Texas town. They seemed to think only that the use of the two words, without distinction, constituted a terrible sin. And so the storm raged, as far north as Worcester, Massachusetts.

The significance of the article, though, had to do not with any distinction between the two names for this vegetable, but with the fact that the South is discovering it, possibly rediscovering it might better describe the situation. What once was called the lowly yam is fast rising in the estimation of southern farmers as a money crop.

That is why Texas’ governor, James V. Allred, proclaimed a certain week in October to be yam week, and why, at Gilmer, in East Texas, a celebration called a yamboree was staged. Texas, Alabama and Georgia are beginning to realize that in the production of this vegetable they have a most promising crop. They are exporting it in larger quantities than ever. Not only is it produced as a foodstuff, but it has many other uses. From it are produced alcohol, starch and a high quality sizing for dress goods.

So to the southern farmers it doesn’t matter so much whether it be yam or sweet potato. Noah Webster says the yam is the southern sweet potato. The Encyclopedia Britannica, on the other hand, says true yams must not be confounded with the sweet potato. So take your choice.

The choice of the southern state, though, seems to be running to this product more than ever, for the farmers see the potential value for it as a money crop and they look for it to take the place, even if only in a small way at first, of the losses they suffered through the reduction of cotton acreage and the loss of foreign market for cotton.

(Trademark)
Word Mark YAMBOREE
Goods and Services IC 041. US 100 101 107. G & S: organizing and conducting an annual county fair. FIRST USE: 19351000. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 19351000
Mark Drawing Code (1) TYPED DRAWING
Design Search Code
Serial Number 76333795
Filing Date November 2, 2001
Current Filing Basis 1A
Original Filing Basis 1A
Published for Opposition May 21, 2002
Registration Number 2607516
Registration Date August 13, 2002
Owner (REGISTRANT) East Texas Yamboree Corporation CORPORATION TEXAS P.O. Box 854 Gilmer TEXAS 75644
Attorney of Record DENNIS T. GRIGGS
Prior Registrations 2399898
Type of Mark SERVICE MARK
Register PRINCIPAL
Live/Dead Indicator LIVE

(Trademark)
Word Mark EAST TEXAS YAMBOREE GILMER SINCE 1935 TEXAS
Goods and Services IC 041. US 100 101 107. G & S: ORGANIZING AND CONDUCTING AN ANNUAL COUNTY FAIR. FIRST USE: 19880000. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 19880000
Mark Drawing Code (3) DESIGN PLUS WORDS, LETTERS, AND/OR NUMBERS
Design Search Code 05.11.01 - Beets; Carrots; Parsnips; Potatoes
24.09.07 - Advertising, banners; Banners
24.11.02 - Crowns open at the top
Serial Number 75818102
Filing Date October 8, 1999
Current Filing Basis 1A
Original Filing Basis 1A
Published for Opposition August 8, 2000
Registration Number 2399898
Registration Date October 31, 2000
Owner (REGISTRANT) EAST TEXAS YAMBOREE CORPORATION TEXAS P. O. Box 854 Gilmer TEXAS 75644
Disclaimer NO CLAIM IS MADE TO THE EXCLUSIVE RIGHT TO USE “EAST TEXAS, GILMER TEXAS and SINCE 1935” APART FROM THE MARK AS SHOWN
Type of Mark SERVICE MARK
Register PRINCIPAL
Affidavit Text SECT 15. SECT 8 (6-YR).
Live/Dead Indicator LIVE

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Friday, December 08, 2006 • Permalink