It’s mosquito celebration time again in Clute this weekend

By John Toth / Editor and Publisher

II have been writing stories about Clute’s great Texas Mosquito Festival longer than I’d care to admit.
Each year, the challenge is to come up with something that would not be too repetitive from the previous years.

I covered the event for 11 or 12 years while working at The Houston Chronicle, and every year after that as publisher of The Bulletin.

I have attended many of them, enjoyed the concerts that are included with the price of admission, and I especially enjoyed the dunking booth when our elected officials volunteered their services.

It has always struck me as a really well organized small-town festival. But the Mosquito Festival has had international success as well.

Each year, media representatives from all over the country – and some from other countries – want to know why would a bunch of people along the Texas Gulf Coast celebrate the mosquito?

The festival is not the craziest one around. There are nuttier celebrations. I did an article on those one year and compared them to the Mosquito Festival. It made for a good preview and bailed me out for yet another year.

This festival has many special features, but two stand out the most in my mind: Good marketing and good timing.

The marketing has been top notch by Clute Parks Department Director Dana Pomerenke, her staff and volunteers. They play the media game well and have been reaping the benefits of paid and free publicity.

The timing is perfect. Very little is going on this time of the year. Once, when the Features Department at the Chronicle ordered up yet another festival preview for the Thursday weekend happenings section, they even became apologetic.

“John, we know that you have done several of these, but there is nothing else going on. We need something to highlight,” one of the editors said over the phone, to the best of my knowledge. It’s been a while.

I really didn’t mind. I liked working on these lighter stories. They were a lot more fun to put together than some murder trial or natural disaster, and the people I interviewed each year were eager to comment.

Yes, it’s hot and humid. But what better way to break up the summer doldrums than by buzzing by Clute’s municipal park between Thursday and Saturday?

There is another reason why this festival is special to me. If someone would go back in the records (if they even exist), and look up who won the Skeeter Beater Baby Crawling Contest in 1986, they would find the name John Toth III.

He made it the farthest before refusing to crawl any more, probably because it was just too darn hot. John is now 31. That gives you an idea how long I have been writing these festival previews.