Alex Vargas, 3, tries to catch a fish at the Kidfish area of the Celebrate Killeen Festival Saturday at the Killeen Community Center.
Zander Connor, 4, holds a rabbit while in the petting zoo at the annual Celebrate Killeen Festival Saturday at the Killeen Community center
Members of the Cultura Filipiniana Arts Inc. of Central Texas Philippine-American Dance Troupe perform at the annual Celebrate Killeen Festival Saturday outside the Killeen Community Center.;counterType=skip” mce_href=””>

1 2 3

By Rebecca Rose
Killeen Daily Herald

Thousands of people flocked to the Killeen Community Center and the neighboring park this weekend for the city’s “Celebrate Killeen” festival.

The festival, which started on Thursday, concluded on Saturday evening with performances from local school children and more.

Bounce houses and giant swing rides took over the city’s baseball diamonds. Kids from as far away as Temple came to enjoy the fish pond and petting zoo and to get a chance to join in a hay ride.

At the petting zoo, Christian Granados and his brother, Darios, carefully held young rabbits and fed baby goats.

Christian said it was a fun way to spend the day, especially “playing on the bouncies.”

Inside the community center, children were busy in the arts and crafts room, while dozens of vendors selling jewelry and other handmade goods filled the main hall.

Events on Saturday included a live Steppin’ competition, with teams from local schools showing off their best dance routines. A full crowd of spectators filled the lawn in front of the main stage to cheer on the young dancers. The team from Ira Cross took first place, and Trimmier Elementary won second.

The team from Harker Heights’ Mountain View Steppers took third place. Four-year-old Daneisha Shamburger, the youngest member of the Mountain View team, demonstrated her best dance moves while celebrating her team’s success.

Daniesha’s mother is Tricia Shaw, a teacher at Harker Heights and one of the team’s coordinators. She said it was the first time performing for her daughter, who began dancing with the group in October.

“For me, step competition is the highlight of Celebrate Killeen,” Shaw said. The dancers practice several times a week perfecting their step moves in the school’s gym.

A lengthy row of food vendors filled the walkway around the community center, with the familiar smell of Texas barbecue filling the park. In front of the community center, members of the Killeen police and fire departments displayed vehicles and answered questions for interested children.

The event concluded with a showing of “The Last Airbender” Saturday evening.