Two days of family, autumn harvest fun will commence Saturday and Sunday throughout historic downtown Neosho as Neosho Fall Festival 2014 continues Oct. 4-5.
Fuel up to start a big Saturday with all you can eat pancakes, sausage, biscuits and gravy from 7 to 10:30 a.m. in the Neosho Civic when the annual Lions Club Pancake Feed begins the festivities.
“The pancake feed kind of kicks it off, but the rest of the activities really don’t get started until about 9 a.m.,” said Wes Franklin, public relations and events coordinator, Neosho. “We’ll start out with the National Anthem, and by that time the food and craft vendors will be all set up and ready to go. The Neosho Arts Council is having their art expo and sale in The Civic starting at 9 a.m. and going until 4 p.m.”
Franklin said the chalk art contest sponsored by the arts council actually gets underway at 8 a.m.
“Anyone can enter, they just need to register with the Neosho Arts Council, and I’m sure they can register on site as well,” he said.
He said $1,000 in cash prizes will be awarded for the contest, which will wrap up in front of The Civic at 2 p.m. Check the arts council website for information at neoshoarts.net.
Franklin said the Arts Feeds bus will be parked in front of the Civic from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.
“It’s a modified van that’s been converted into a mobile arts center, and they have lots of art activities that kids can do inside the little mobile arts center there and also outside,” he said. “The Neosho Arts Council brought it here last year and it was a lot of fun.”
Also at 10 a.m. is the second annual Coaster Car Race.
“The race will be on Washington St., and will go down from McKinney to Hickory, with the slow-down stretch from Hickory to Main St,” Franklin said.
He said registration continues through Friday at city hall, $10 per car, and $5 for any additional drivers. Medals for first, second and third place in each age division will be awarded.
New this year is the scarecrow contest. Franklin said 42 scarecrows created by businesses, organizations and individuals will be displayed around the downtown square, and $600 in cash prizes will be awarded for first, second and third place by contest sponsors Neosho Graphics and Competitor’s Wearhouse.
He said each entrant then has the opportunity to auction their scarecrow to the highest bidder at 3 p.m. on Sunday, with the scarecrow creator keeping 80 percent of the auction proceeds, 10 percent going back into next year’s event, and the other 10 percent to benefit Neosho Bright Futures.
Kids games will be set up Saturday at the History Alley, what Franklin called one of the Neosho Fall Festival’s biggest events, a block off the square at the Newton County Historic Park and Museum, 121 N. Washington St.
“They’ve got all kinds of exhibitors, everything from blacksmithing to candle making, and they’re going to have wagon rides and historical tours for free,” he said. “They’re going to have a photo exhibit with an old prison wagon.”
Franklin listed other History Alley attractions of basket weaving, spinning, glass blowing, rope making, banjo making, wood carving, weaving and much more. He said there will be displays of mountain man furs, black powder weapons, antique clocks, chuck wagons and Civil War re-enactors during the 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. event.
“That evening, they’re going to show an outdoor movie, free, featuring ‘Night At the Museum,’ appropriately,” he said. “That’s at dusk at the Newton County Museum. Free admission, free popcorn, free water.”
Franklin reported the Neosho Fire Department will hold its chili cook-off at fire station No. 1 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. He said at least one police entry will go up against the chili chefs of the fire department.
“So the public will decide,” Franklin advised. “There’ll be donation jars next to each pot of chili, you just vote on the best chili by putting a dollar or however much you want in. Whoever has the most money in their jar wins the chili contest.”
He said all proceeds will go to charitable causes, such as Christmas For Kids or something of that nature.
Franklin said the fire department initiated the chili cook-off last year in recognition of its 125th anniversary, and though there will be no anniversary celebration, firefighters invite the public to eat some chili and tour the facilities during an open house that will include kids activities.
Live music will accompany the celebration from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Franklin said Saturday’s entertainers include Three On a Wire, Folk & Roll, the Lost Creek Promenaders Square Dancers, the Vogt Sisters, Breaking Silence, and then at 2 p.m. Faithful Friends Animal Advocates (FFAA) will take the band stage at the southwest corner of the square to hold the pet contest.
“They’ll have several categories for that such as cutest pet, owner/pet look alike contest, that sort of thing, costume contest, that’s going to be a lot of fun,” he said.
Franklin advised entry can be gained to the pet contest through the FFAA website, or on site at the organization’s Fall Festival booth at least a half hour prior to the contest.
Following the pet contest, he said the drama team from Gospel Lighthouse Church will perform, preceding the Josh Jennings Band, and then background music late in the day. Also, he said demonstrations will continue throughout the day at the skate-park several blocks away from the square.
Gospel music will emanate from the stage on Sunday, beginning with Theo Mason, then the Jubilaires, Folk & Roll, followed by the scarecrow auction at 3 p.m.
Meanwhile, Franklin said dance performances will commence in The Civic from noon to 3 p.m. by dancers from Sherry’s Dance Center, Kara’s Kicks, and Solomon’s Dance Studio.
Throughout the two days, Franklin said dozens of vendors will be situated all around the square.
“The biggest thing probably is the free inflatable rides on the southeast corner of the square,” he said. “We’ll have everything from a bounce house to a rock wall to jousting to everything in between.”
Though the Neosho Arts Council art exhibition and sale in The Civic is just a Saturday event, Franklin said artists have been given permission to find a space on the square to set up to display and sell their work on Sunday.
“The big thing we are doing on Sunday, from noon to four, is a car, truck and bike cruise-in,” he said. “It’s pretty informal. We’ll line them up on E. Main St. in front of city hall and they’ll continue on onto the square, just any spaces that they can find, because some vendors won’t be able to stay both days.”
Franklin said there is no judging, nor an entry fee, though everyone who participates will get a free dash plaque.
Franklin noted the Neosho Fall Festival was expanded to two days this year at the request of a number of vendors because attendance was tempered by rain last year.
“It rained on Saturday last year and the vendors said, ‘You know what, if this was two days, we would have done alright,’ because Sunday was beautiful,” he said.