Old-time festival appeals to all ages, but for the kids, it’s all about the fun
Hootin an Hollarin is next week, and committee members, vendors, performers and presenters are as busy as bees behind the scenes preparing for another successful celebration of our hillbilly heritage, this year focused on the theme “Fun from the Old School.” Although the festival, to be held Sept. 20-22, is appealing to all ages, it’s an especially entertaining time for children. Here’s a quick look at some of the fun that’s aimed especially at the younger crowd.
Free terrapin races with cash prizes
The annual terrapin races are a favorite memory for many during Hootin an Hollarin. Two separates races, under the direction of volunteer Pamela Sisney, are scheduled this year in front of City Hall on the northwest corner of the square. The races are free to enter. The first terrapin race will be held at 11 a.m. Friday, and the secpmd will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday. Sisney told the Times no championship race will be held this year as was held last year because some terrapin racers can only attend on Friday or only on Saturday.
Competitors should bring their own terrapin (also known as a turtle). The reptiles will be placed in the center of a chalk circle drawn on the pavement and released at the same time. The first terrapin to make it to the edge of the outer circle is the winner. Cash prizes will be awarded for first, second and third places each day. Competitors should arrive 10 minutes early. The races will begin promptly at 11 a.m.
Free old-fashioned kids games
Three sets of free kids games are scheduled during this year’s Hootin an Hollarin. Two sets of free games will be held from 11 a.m. to noon Friday and Saturday, right after the terrapin races, on the northwest corner of the square in front of City Hall. Some of the games planned include a lighthearted competition in which kids throw a ball at a stack of tin cans to see how many they can knock down, a hillbilly candy walk (operated like its cake-walk cousin with candy prizes) and a corn-digging tub in which kids age 10 and younger can hop into a big grain bin full of corn and search for hidden treasures.
Another set of old-fashioned kids games will be held at 4:30 p.m. Saturday in the parking lot of the Amyx building, across the street from Gainesville City Hall on the northwest corner of the square. There’s no need to register. All games are free, and all equipment will be provided. Just show up and have some fun! The game lineup may change year to year, but the offerings usually include a hula-hoop contest, kids (not frogs) frog-jumping races, rubber band gun shoots, a seed-spitting contest and a “nosey ring” contest, where contestants attempt to swing a ring tied to a rope onto a carved man’s nose. Games are appropriate for kids age 10 and under.
Free rag-doll-making booth
This year’s festival will include a new bit of free olden-day fun for the kiddos. Volunteer Jamie Green Kingsolver is heading up a free rag-doll-making booth on the inside row of the west side of the square, across from the school booths. All supplies will be provided, free of charge. Jamie says the dolls are very simple to make and take about 15 minutes to complete. This photo shows a girl doll, but a boy doll can also be made by braiding together the strips of cloth to make legs.
The humble dolls are fashioned from those beloved by children in years past when money was scarce and children’s toys were made from scrap material left over from sewing projects. Jamie says her “Grandma Green” made her several rag dolls from quilt scraps. Now she’s carrying on the tradition by sharing the skills with Hootin an Hollarin children and parents by helping them make their own doll. The booth will be open Friday, and probably will be open again a few hours on Saturday. A schedule will be posted at the booth during Hootin an Hollarin.
The booth, sponsored by the Hootin an Hollarin committee, was added this year to help demonstrate old-time crafts.
Free coloring station
The Ozark County Volunteer Library’s booth on the north side of the square will offer a spot where kids age 10 and younger can sit and color a Hootin an Hollarin masterpiece while their accompanying adults shop the book bargains.
Game and activity booths and fun items to purchase
A new mechanical bull ride will provide fun for riders of all ages in the Century Bank parking lot. Although organizers thought the long-time pony rides would be discontinued this year due to space issues, a new vendor has stepped up to provide the horsey fun. Check out their booth in the parking lot across from Guffey Motors. Look for the big red and white tent.
Fun will be plentiful on the west side of the square, where several local school groups will have game-themed fundraisers ready for action. The Gainesville High School junior class will host a bean bag toss, the GHS seniors will operate their popular dart booth and wheel of fortune game, and the GHS band will host a ring toss. A recent addition to this year’s fundraiser lineup is Jamon Crisp, who’s planning to perform a magic show every hour on Saturday at the GHS band booth.
Several booths will also offer old-fashioned toys and other kids’ items available for purchase. The rubber-footed wooden duck toys at Jim C. Carr’s booth, on the northwest side of the square, is a perpetually popular item with the kiddos, as are the frilly tutus and bows at Jan Hillhouse’s booth on the south side of the square next to the Trinity Worship cookery booth.
Lil Cedar Pete and Lil Miss Addie Lee contest (boys and girls ages 4-5)
The Lil Cedar Pete and Lil Miss Addie Lee contest leads the lineup of children’s celebrity competitions, beginning at 3:15 p.m. Friday on the main stage. (Sign up beside or behind the stage right after Friday afternoon’s costume contest.) Sponsored by the Ozark County Chamber of Commerce, the contest, for boys and girls ages 4 and 5, commemorates two of the founders of Hootin an Hollarin. Addie Lee Lister, known as the “First Lady of Hootin an Hollarin,” credited artistic woodworker Ed Petterson with thinking up the name Hootin an Hollarin. He also designed the whimsical hillbilly character Cedar Pete, who served as the first logo for the festival. Youngsters will be interviewed on stage by emcee April Klineline Luna, who will gently ask them all the same questions, usually about things like their favorite color, family animals and pets, and then asking if they’d like to share anything else – a song, joke or story. (April will meet the contestants backstage before the judging to tell them what she’ll be asking and to encourage them to have fun.) Old-time costume is optional.
Hootin an Hollarin Princess Pageants (girls first through sixth grades)
The Hootin an Hollarin princess contests, which begin at 3:45 p.m. Friday on the main stage, feature Ozark County girls sharing their most adorable Hootin an Hollarin personalities.
The categories are Lil Princess, open to first and second graders; Lil Miss, open to third and fourth graders; and Junior Princess, open to fifth and sixth graders.
All contestants must pre-register. The deadline for signing up is Friday, Sept. 14. To register, call Janette McDaniel at 417-255-3312 and leave a message in her voice mail or text her with this information: the girl’s name, grade and three interests or hobbies. Judging (by out-of-state judges) will be based on 25 points: 5 for appearance, 10 for personality and 10 for poise.
All contestants are welcome to ride on the princess float in the Big Parade on Saturday afternoon.
Come and watch one (or participate in) one of Hootin an Hollarin’s most popular events, the Friday afternoon costume parade and contest. Folks young and old – and sometimes whole families – dress up in old-fashioned costumes.
Costumed participants should sign up across from City Hall on the northwest corner of the square beginning at 1:30 p.m. Friday. At 2 p.m., the costumed participants parade around the square to the main stage on the east side. Each costume-clad contestant has an opportunity to step onto the platform before the judges and give ’em his or her best smile.
Children and adults of all ages are welcome to join in on the fun and enter the competition, which is broken down into many different categories (see the Hootin an Hollarin magazine for the complete list).
Watch the bed and outhouse races and the big parde
The fun-spirited bed and outhouse races are fun for spectators of all ages. The bed races kick off at 5 p.m. Friday followed by the outhouse races at about 5:30 p.m.
And what would Hootin an Hollarin be without the big parade, when those young and old line the streets and watch excitedly as floats, old cars, tractors, horses and the like come parading through? This popular event gets crowded, so if you’d like a good spot for viewing (and candy catching) plan to get to the square before the 2 p.m. step-off time. The parade route is provided in the Hootin an Hollarin magazine.
Children (and adults) can bring Fido or Patches down to show off their stuff for the fun pet show Saturday morning. All types of animals are welcome, and entries can be based on a special trick or just being cute. Contestants and their owners are asked to sign up in front of the main stage on the east side of the square between 9:30 and 9:45 a.m. before the show starts at 10. Judging categories are wide, and everyone walks away with a winning title. See page 43 in the Hootin an Hollarin festival guide for more information.
The Hootin an Hollarin horseshoe pitching contest, to be held at 10 a.m. Saturday in the parking lot across from Guffey Motors on Third Street at Harlin Drive, will feature a juniors division for competitors age 12 and under. The event is free, and organizer Heath Treat says a lack of experience is not a problem. The competition includes a division for parents and kids who want to compete together as a two-pitcher team. See page 23 in the Hootin an Hollarin festival guide for more information.