Tuesday, September 23, 2014

TOP STORY >> Weekend festivals go head to head

Leader staff writer

Look no further than Jacksonville, Sherwood and Searcy for something to do this weekend. The cities are hosting free annual shindigs, with Jacksonville and Searcy getting a headstart by kicking off the second FestiVille and Get Down Downtown — a Main Street Searcy Festival — on Friday.

FestiVille entertainment starts at 4 p.m. Friday.

Searcy’s musical lineup starts at 6 p.m. Friday with The Dixan Project, followed by The Clark Family Trio featuring Bill Nesbitt at 7 and three-time Grammy nominees The Nelons, a family of gospel artists, at 8. All are on the Quattlebaum Music Center Stage.

New to this year’s FestiVille is the Backyard BBQ Bash cook-off nine teams signed up for and the British Motor Club of Arkansas car show. Both are set for Saturday.

FestiVille organizer Dana Rozenski of the Parks and Recreation Department said, “Spend time at one of our local parks. (You will) see a great entertainment package (and) have some good food.”

She added that local school groups would participate this year because FestiVille was moved from June to September, when school is in session.

New to Sherwood Fest are three national acts, an archery contest with recurve bows provided or brought and a castle-building contest with recycled materials, according to organizer Misty Heaton.

Medieval costumes reminiscent of the city’s mascot, the fictional character Robin Hood, are encouraged. A trophy will be awarded to the “most spirited” archer. The Society for Creative Anachronism may perform a live demonstration of fighting techniques in medieval attire and using medieval weapons.

At Jacksonville’s FestiVille in Dupree Park, Aces Wild will play rock and country covers from 5 to 6 p.m. Friday on the portable Advertising and Promotions stage, followed by pop rock artist Matthew Huff from 6:15 to 7:15 and rock band The Revolutioners from 7:30 to 9.

Also on Friday, the pavilion stage at Dupree Park will host the Jacksonville Lighthouse Charter School band from 4 until 4:30 p.m., followed by the school’s choir until 5 p.m. and the school’s dance/cheer team until 5:30 p.m.

Christina Null will play the cello on the pavilion stage from 6 until 6:30 p.m., followed by the Huff N Puff Gym’s performers until 8 p.m.

The special event set for Friday is the Jacksonville Police Department’s K9 demonstrations that will begin at 6 p.m.

Sherwood Fest begins bright and early at 8 a.m. Saturday at Sherwood Forest, 1111 W. Maryland Ave., with the chamber of commerce’s pancake breakfast. Plates are $6 for adults and $3 for ages 6-10. Kids under 6 eat free. The festival ends with fireworks at 6 p.m.

The schedule is still being finalized, and the shows will be shorter than they have been in the past because there are more acts, Heaton said.

Entertainment for Sherwood Fest has almost doubled, from five musical acts last year to nine this year. Heaton believes this is the first year that national acts have been booked for the festival.

Those national acts include American Idol runner-up Christy Bowersox, Little Rock native Elise Davis and Trout Fishing in America. Heaton said Trout Fishing in America, which has been called “the Lennon and McCartney of kids’ music,” would perform twice on Saturday.

Heaton added that she is working to book a fourth national act involving the lead singer of a contemporary Christian band who is launching a solo career.

There will also be performances by Paul Morphis “One Man Band,” Impact Gymnastics, Marissa and Jacq’s dancers, the O’Donovan School of Irish Dance, the salsa dancers who frequent Juanita’s in Little Rock, Studio One dancers, The Big Dam Horns, The Revolutioners and Amy Brown and the Sherwood Sound.

Get Down Downtown in Searcy starts Saturday events at 10 a.m. with a performance by Foundation 3, a brother and sisters act blending a love of country music with their contemporary Christian background.

Good News Singers, an acappella group, will take the stage at 11, followed by the pop group Belles and Beaux at noon.

The afternoon and evening lineup includes the Crowley Ridge Cloggers at 1, the White County Star Steppers at 1:30, Ramblin’ Fever at 3:30, Charlotte Taylor and Gypsy Rain at 5, Pamela K. Ward at 6:30 and Ricochet at 8. All are on the Quattlebaum Music Center Stage.

Other festival activities to be held Saturday in Searcy are the Robbins Sanford Grand Hall Bridal Fair from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and the second annual car show from 2 to 6 p.m. Registration for the car show starts at 2 and the entry fee is $20. Cash prizes and awards will be given in several categories.

Also during Get Down Downtown, former Congress-man Ed Bethune will host a talk and book signing at the White County Courthouse beginning at 1 p.m. Friday.

Meanwhile, Saturday events at FestiVille in Jackson-ville will include a fishing derby with registration at 7 a.m., a 5K/1K with registration at 8 a.m. and a volleyball tournament with registration at 8:30 a.m.

The Luke Williams Band, a country rock group, is headlining with a performance from 7:30 to 9 p.m. Saturday.

But Down and Dirty will take the stage first, from noon until 1 p.m., followed by Gabriel Bradley from 1:15 to 2:15, Zack McKenzie from 2:30 to 3:30, Christian rock band Three Times Denied from 3:45 to 4:45, rhythm and blues group Ment 2 B from 5 to 6 and punk rock band Eddie and the Defiantz from 6:15 to 7:15.

The police department will also hold K9 demonstrations at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.

The Jacksonville High School cheerleaders will take the pavilion stage from 9 a.m. until noon, followed by Huff N Puff until 1 p.m.

Other acts on that stage Saturday afternoon and evening are Erica Brewer and Alexis Landers from 1 to 1:30, Sharon’s Dance performers from 1:30 to 2, the Central Arkansas Performing Arts Academy from 2:30 to 3, the Gospel Group from 3 to 3:30, the Rhythm Safari Dance Company with special guests, Diamond Girls, from 3:30 to 4; the JHS choir from 4 to 4:30, the JHS band from 5:30 to 6 and Brandon Farris from 6 to 7.

In Sherwood, the festival’s archery contest will be competitive for ages 6 and up. Prizes will be awarded in the age categories of 6-10, 11-15 and 16 or older. The difficulty will increase for the oldest group, Heaton said.

For the castle building event, she continued, the city teamed up with Keep Sherwood Beautiful, which collected the recycled materials that will be used.

Ten four-member teams will get to sign up on site and build a castle with those materials in two hours. Awards will be given to the “most enchanting,” “the most detailed” and the “most original” castles.

Heaton said, “This is the city’s 38th year to put on this free event, and there will be activities for all ages. The show will be bigger and better than it’s ever been. We’re very excited to welcome families to the event.”

All three festivals will have children’s areas.

The Jacksonville event will entertain kids with balloon art and face painting.

Sherwood Fest will have one indoor kids zone and one outdoor kids zone. Heaton said the indoor zone would entertain them with games and crafts.

The zone outside will have inflatables, and there may be an admission fee. Centennial Bank is sponsoring a cute kids contest at Sherwood Fest for boy and girls, ages 6 and under, on the Forest Room stage.

Searcy’s Kid Zone will be located at Spring Park from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Saturday. There will be face painting, carnival games, pony rides, inflatables, slides, sack races, hula hoop contests and a petting zoo. Carnival games will cost 25 cents each. There will also be a charge for the pony rides and petting zoo. The Searcy Fire Department will be set up along Pleasure Street on Saturday with a truck, smokehouse, water targets and “Freddie the Fire Truck” to teach fire safety.

More performances, mostly by school groups, are scheduled on the Southeastern Energy Stage in the park’s pavilion from 10 a.m until 1:30 p.m. Saturday.

All of the festivals will have food and other vendors.

Heaton said 38 indoor vendors and 34 outdoor vendors had signed up for Sherwood Fest.

FestiVille organizers are still looking for vendors, but some who have confirmed they are participating include Scentsy, the fire and police departments, churches, crafters and political candidates.

The vendors at Sherwood Fest range from political candidates to crafters to someone who makes and sells treats for dogs. The Sherwood Animal Shelter and Rock City Rescue will offer on-site adoptions, Heaton said.

Food for Jacksonville’s FestiVille includes snow cones, corn dogs, hot dogs, funnel cakes and barbecue. Sherwood Fest will have the same, as well as catfish and nachos.