PILOT POINT — As men in three-piece suits rolled up in Model A Fords in front of the old Farmers and Merchants Bank in downtown Pilot Point on Saturday, visitors knew they had stepped back to an era of jazz music, speakeasies and possibly mayhem.
The men appearing on the square were re-enacting the infamous Bonnie and Clyde bank robbery scene, filmed at the bank building for the 1967 movie starring Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, celebrated in the city’s fourth annual Bonnie and Clyde Days.
The festival was created to draw attention to the small northern Denton County community, made famous by the 1967 movie shooting, said Shea Patterson, who has served as festival director for the past two years.
The festival continues to grow each year, she said. Patterson hopes it is something the town can continue for generations to come.
“The festival really is to celebrate the Bonnie and Clyde film shot here, although there are roots of the duo that were based here. ... One of their aunts lived just down the road,” said Patterson, who also serves on the City Council.
Pilot Point Main Street director Jeremy Sander said last year’s festival drew an estimated 5,000 people. By early afternoon Saturday, he said this year’s attendance could meet or exceed those figures.
Revitalizing the downtown area is what city officials hope Bonnie and Clyde Days will continue to do.
“Having the downtown merchants open brings a lot of foot traffic, and one business owner claimed he had his busiest day ever during the festival last year,” Patterson said. “Which is exactly what we were aiming for when putting this event together.”
From the music to the actors playing Bonnie and Clyde, festival organizers said their goal is to keep the festival as local as possible.
“During the filming of the movie, locals were used on the set and it’s only right to keep the tradition alive,” Patterson said.
Marissa Morris, a junior at Pilot Point High School, played the role of Bonnie Parker for her first time while her boyfriend, Travis Garrett, played the role of Clyde Barrow.
“I really didn’t know too much about Bonnie, and so today has been a great learning experience for me,” Morris said. “ I have had a lot of fun.”
Garrett, who played Clyde Barrow in last year’s festival, said he felt honored to perform a character with such a deep history.
“It’s just such an exciting story to be told,” Garrett said.
While the re-enactment might have been the highlight, soap box derbies, a pie-eating contest, a classic car show and a market with more than 50 vendors were just some of the ways attendees could enjoy their day in Pilot Point.
Organizers said the first two years of the festival were kept more authentic. But last year, they brought in a children’s play area complete with a bounce house.
“We want the youth to come, and any way to enlarge a festival to draw in more people is a good thing,” Patterson said.
MEGAN GRAY can be reached at 940-566-6885 and via Twitter at @MGrayNews.