(Editor's Note: Due to circumstances, we've publishing this article and photographs several days after their submission, which is the fault of the editor and not the correspondent).
Costumes, pumpkin painting, a chili contest, live entertainment and more was happening Saturday at the Magnolia Downtown Merchants Fall Festival.
The day kicked off with a costume contest for children but instead of having the contestants gather on the Albermarle stage at the Magnolia Square Park, the event was moved to Java Primo because of the wet, cool weather.
Excited children and their parents gathered to be judged in the contest, decked out in all types of costumes. Joseph Smith, 11, of Emerson, dressed up like a man riding a T-Rex. Eventually referred to as “Dino Joe,” Smith won first prize in his age division.
“It looks cool,” he said of his costume.
The costume which is filled with air tank and battery packs to stay inflated.
“We go through the A batteries,” Smith’s mother said.
Courtney Erwin dressed her son Axton Erwin up as a lumberjack. His red flannel shirt matched perfectly with his red and black lumberjack socks. Axton, 19 months old, even had a toy axe with him to complete his costume.
“I never thought about how the costume goes with his name until now,” Courtney Erwin said when asked about the similarity of name and costume.
Sadie Baker, 4, dressed as a magic fairy. Her mother Megan Baker said she began curling Sadie’s hair with a wand that morning at 9:15 a.m. and then sprayed it down with glitter to complete the look. Megan said her daughters enjoy the costume contest each year. Her other daughter, Charlotte Baker, 5, dressed like Disney’s “Vampirina.”
There was also a dog costume contest held following the children’s costume contest at Three Friends & Co. Teresa Prestridge of Gonzalez, LA, who was in town for a visit heard about the contest Friday night and told her sister Kim Newell she wanted to enter her boxer Dietz.
“So, at 8:30 (Friday) night we went to the Dollar Tree and Walmart and pulled it all together,” Prestridge said.
Dietz, a rescue, proudly represented Thing 2 of Dr. Seuss’ “Cat in the Hat,” while his human cousin, Riley Williamson played Thing 2. The costume included a dash of blue hair on top of both of their heads and a red shirt including their designations.
Prestridge squealed with delight when she found out the first place prize Dietz helped her win came with a $20 gift certificate to Three Friends & Co.
The costume contest results were:
Baby -- 1. Riley Joslin, 2. Hallie Haile, 3. Tipton Smith
Toddler -- 1. Abigail Atikinson, 2. Sadie Baker, 3. Wyatt Shoemaker
Category of 5-7 year-olds -- 1. A.J. Johnson, 2. Charlotte Baker, 3. Beau Mobbs
Category of 8-12 year-olds -- 1. Joseph Smith, 2. Aubrey Stuart, 3. Hayden Haile
Thirteen through Adult -- Megan Pierce and her dog Autumn
Pet -- Riley Williamson and her cousin, a boxer, named Dietz
Outside of Three Friends & Co. Kaylynn Sands, 6, had a donation table for Arkansas Children’s Hospital.
“I was a cancer patient there when I was little and people donated toys and now it is my turn to donate to them,” Kaylynn said.
Her mother, Anne Marie Sands, said Kaylynn has been a patient with the hospital since she was 2 and for years since has used her birthday as a time not to receive toys for herself but to collect toys for the hospital instead.
“It makes me proud,” Anne Marie Sands said, beginning to tear up when talking about her daughter’s generosity.
After the festival Saturday night, Anne Marie Sands shared on her Facebook page that her daughter had collected two boxes of toys for the hospital and $124 in monetary donations.
On North Jefferson Street next to the Perfect Cup, the Magnolia Junior Charity League displayed their Big Rigs and Boosters. The Big Rigs were an attraction for children to see heavy machinery and the boosters gave a chance for those passing by to get their flu shot right in the middle of the road, something Danielle Owens of the MLCJ said she hoped help people.
“We are hoping people come shop and be a part of the costume contest and to make it more convenient than going to your doctor’s office and to be able to get it right as you walk by,” she said.
Shots were provided by Wilson-Bearden Pharmacy and given by nurse practitioners.
The Magnolia Junior Charity League also provided a table where children could paint pumpkins. Summer Murphy, 13, Tuff Turnage, 9 and Sawyer Turnage, 3, eagerly took the challenge on. Sawyer made his pumpkin look a little bit like something from Mardi Gras. Sheena Turnage said despite the weather she was glad to be at the Fall Festival.
“I like it just to see everybody and all the sales going on-I love a good sale,” she said.
Nearby at the Perfects there was a Witch Hat Ring Toss where children passing by could get a candy prize if they got a ring around a witch hat.
Katy Goodheart, 10, said she had plans to be a scary costume on Halloween.
“I’m going to paint my face red and run around doing a back bend,” she said.
There was also a pumpkin painting and carving contest sponsored by the Perfect Cup Café.
Winners of this contest were:
Adult painting -- 1. Anna Starr, 2. Chi’Nae 3. Claudia Ray
Adult Carving -- 1. Shawn Headley
Kid Painting -- 1. Bailey, 2. Taylor, 3. Tate.
Kid Carving -- 1. Sloane Knox
The chili cookoff brought some teams out early to the square and some closer to the time of serving which was from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. David Nelson of Magnolia, Scott Baker of Emerson and Luke Stroud, of Henderson, Texas, were on different teams but sat up under the same awning so they could cook their chili and enjoy each other’s company.
David Nelson said love was an ingredient in his chili.
“It takes a bunch of spices and a lot of time, you just have to simmer for love,” Nelson said.
Nelson’s friend Baker said you have to “marinate the chili with passion.” Baker, who ended up taking second prize in the chili cook-off said cool weather is the perfect time to enjoy chili.
Shermar Easter, a member of the Bodcaw Bank chili team, agreed the weather Saturday was appealing to those hungry for meaty chili. He said the bank had all the extra fixing’s anyone could want to jazz up their entrée from Fritos, to ketchup, sour cream and even mustard.
“It’s a great day for chili and great music,” he said. “I love the cold. You can’t eat chili on a hot day.”
The first prize in the chili cookoff went to Peoples Bank. Peoples Bank also took home first prize in showmanship. Fonda Miller, a loan compliance officer, joked that her team was “crazy,” and always had to go “125 percent,” for the contests. The bank won for showmanship prize last year as well.
This year Peoples Bank recreated a scene at the football field with stadium bleachers, stadium lights, a goal post and two cheerleaders from Magnolia High School.
“It’s nice at work when you work like this. It’s fun and we try to make work fun,” Miller said.
The two Magnolia High School Panthers cheerleaders who volunteered to be part of the team were Anyri Wright and Jurnee Lowe.
The third-place prize in the chili cookoff went to the Perfect Cup.
Entertainment on the Albermarle stage was provided beginning in the mid-afternoon with the X-Band, followed by 79 South and ending with Mae Estes. Fans dressed warm and some even brought blankets to watch their favorite performers.