The Groves Pecan History
In 1910, Port Arthur developer John W. Gates enticed Griffing Brothers’ Nursery to plant 6,000 pecan trees over 385 acres – a tract labeled as the largest pecan grove in the state . Wiley Choate, who worked for the nursery at the time, lead the planting. The Groves Development Corporation, headed by brothers James and Asa D. Groves, for whom the city is named heralded the land as the “Garden City of the South”. The brothers developed the city with streets and selling lots, and the city developed and grew as an upper-middle class community because of the beauty and serenity afforded by the massive pecan trees.
The pecan trees became a focal point for community growth and the harvest of the pecans came as a second income to homeowners under the trees. The pecans from Groves were sought from as far away as Louisiana and from all over the state of Texas. Homeowners were heard to reveal, They paid their taxes and insurance each year with the sale of pecans… and calls were taken at the Chamber office from all over the state inquiring as to the sale of pecans.
In 1969, the Groves Chamber of Commerce established the Groves Pecan Festival as a community-wide celebration coinciding with the harvest of pecans. Beginning as a one day affair and the naming of a community leader, “Mr. Groves”; it has grown into a two week event with state – and nation – wide participation. The Groves Pecan Festival is a family-oriented, area wide celebration. Events offer something for every member of the family with activities to interest all hobbyist, sports enthusiasts, competitors, and homemakers.
Activities dedicated to pecans…
- Cooking with Pecans Contest – all entries must contain pecans. This has been a very popular contest, with entries received from all over the state.
- Pecan Toss – Tossing pecans into a 1/2 bushel basket for plaques and prizes. Open to all ages.
- Mr. Nutt Leggs – Judging of men’s legs in a mock beauty pageant.
- Pecan Pageant – The selection of our Pecan Queen has girls vying for the opportunity to represent Groves in activities held throughout the state. Limited to 75 girls.