The Poteet Strawberry Festival is known most of all for its delicious strawberries, but for the past 25 years, it has gained quite a reputation for raising scholarship funds for local graduates. The Poteet Strawberry Festival gives out 10 fouryear scholarships per year. From 1990 to date the Poteet Strawberry Festival has paid over $716,000 to Poteet students.
Many other organizations who have food booths at the Poteet Strawberry Festival donate scholarships from the funds raised. The Poteet Rotary Club gives two four-year scholarships per year, and one $500 Rotary Soda booth one-time scholarship per year. The Poteet Lions Club gave out five fouryear scholarships in 2018. The Taste of Texas food show gives at least three scholarships per year. The Poteet Grange gives out three $500 scholarships per year. The VFW gives out eight $2,000 scholarships per year for the past 20 years. Kappa Tau gives out three to four $500 scholarships per year.
The Pleasanton Express will be giving out a $1,000 Sammie Franklin Scholarship for one Atascosa County student who will be pursuing a degree in communications or journalism. Samantha Ruth Franklin known as “Sammie” was born in Poteet in 1927 and graduated from Poteet High School. Sammie joined the Pleasanton Express in 1947, five years after contracting polio and losing full use of her legs and leaving her with limited use of her hands. Though she used a wheelchair, she refused to acknowledge barriers in pursuit of a story – or in life. Her first job was as the Pleasanton Express’ Poteet correspondent where just one year after she started she began covering a new festival in town – the Poteet Strawberry Festival.
Sammie, through the years, was very active in the Poteet Strawberry Festival and for many years she was the publicity chairman. There is a Sammie Franklin Pavilion at the Poteet Strawberry Festival grounds named in her honor. She was also a member of the National Women’s Press Association, and through the years she won numerous awards for her journalism skills.
There was nothing too small for Sammie to report on – new babies, weddings, obituaries, where the Joneses went for vacation and who spoke at the Rotary Club. Sammie was probably best known for her magnificent wedding write-ups. Franklin did more than light news. She combed South Texas for stories of rural life and times, as well as searched for ranching stories in Argentina and Australia. She never missed a deadline and said that she would keep writing for as long as she could type which means using two pencils with new erasers “for good traction” to tap out her stories on her computer keyboard. She never had plans to retire as she said, “I’m like an old fire horse. When the fire bell rings, they go beserk. And I cannot let a telephone go unanswered. It might be the next big story.”
Sammie moved to Midland in March 1996, but she continued to write stories for the Pleasanton Express until her death in 2006. There is so much to love about the Poteet Strawberry Festival that has put millions back into the local economy and helps to keep the county’s name on the world map by being one of the most popular festival attractions in the United States. Make plans to go support this great community gathering April 5-7. See stories and advertisements throughout the Pleasanton Express and visit the Strawberry Festival’s Facebook page and their website at www.strawberryfestival.com.
NOEL WILKERSON HOLMES is the Publisher/Managing Editor of the Pleasanton Express. You may E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.