Story provided by Main Street Russellville
Ghosts and goblins may run the streets of Russellville after sundown on October 31, but the daylight hours will be filled with good food and community spirit. It’s finally fall y’all and time for Russellville’s 24th Annual Downtown Fall Festival & Chili Cookoff! This year’s event will be held on Saturday, October 31st, throughout the Russellville Downtown Historic District.
Fall Fest originated as a fundraiser for the Main Street Russellville program and since its inception in 1992, has grown into something akin to a combination of a community-wide reunion and harvest homecoming. Held each year on the last Saturday in October, the day’s schedule begins with a Pancake Breakfast at 7 a.m. and ends with the final musical performance on stage at 4 p.m. – a day filled with live music, great food and fun for all ages. Admission to the festival is free.
“This daylong celebration hearkens back to the ‘good old days’ when carnivals set up on the streets of Russellville Downtown and the entire community turned out for the event,” according to Betsy McGuire, MSR Executive Director.
The day’s events include: Arts and Crafts, Car & Truck Show, Children’s Costume Contest, CASI-sanctioned and Local Chili Cookoff, Tour de Pumpkin Bike Ride, 5KRun/Walk and 1K Kid’s Run and a children’s game midway, hosted by Central Presbyterian Church. The Knights of Columbus will be hosting a pancake breakfast at the American Legion Hut in addition to the variety of festival foods available in the food court. The streets will be filled with a variety of booths that include arts and crafts, nonprofit organizations, commercial business and local politicians.
Early set up for vendor booths is from 6 to 8 p.m. on Friday evening, October 30th. All exhibits must be set up by 8 a.m. and remain until 5 p.m. the day of the event, October 31st. The streets will be closed to all vehicle traffic at 8 a.m. on Saturday, October 31st to allow for safe pedestrian access. Streets will not re-open until 5 p.m. on October 31st. Handicap accessible parking will be provided by Central Presbyterian Church at the corner of W. Main and El Paso. An information desk will be located in front of the Depot at 320 W. C St. (at the intersection of W. C St. and N. Denver Ave), and an attendant will be present to direct registered participants to their assigned spaces, if needed. Additional information regarding the day’s events includes:
Knight of Columbus Pancake Breakfast
Festival-goers are encouraged to begin their day with the Knights of Columbus Pancake Breakfast from 7:00 until 11:00 a.m. at the American Legion Hall located at 215 N. Denver Ave. The Mountain Boomers will provide old time fiddlin’ music while guests dine on pancakes, sausage, coffee, milk and juice. Tickets are available at the door: $5 for adults, $3 for kids 12 and under, and free for kids under 6. Tickets may be purchased at the Russellville Depot, from any of the KOC volunteers or Wayne Eastman, committee chair at 479-567-3920.
5K Run/Walk & 1K Kids Run
The 5K Run/Walk and 1K Kids Fun Run, hosted by the River Valley Runners, will begin with registration and packet pick-up at 7 a.m. at the west end of the Russellville Depot. According to organizers the course is flat and fast, making it a great race to beat your personal record. The 5K Run/Walk begins at 8 a.m. The kids run follows, beginning at 8:45 a.m. Fees are $20 for early registration and $25 on the day of the race. Registration for the kids run is $15. The race course will close at 9:15 a.m. Following the race runners may turn in their race bibs at the Chili Cookoff tent for a Tasting Kit to sample all of the competition chili for FREE. Parking for runners will be available at the former location of the Farmers Co-op on West C Street. Race Director Michael Witt may be contacted at 479-477-0909.
Tour de Pumpkin Bike Ride
The annual Tour de Pumpkin Bike Ride, the official bike ride of the Downtown Fall Festival & Chili Cookoff will leave from the Depot at 9:30 a.m. Registration will be held on the west end of the Depot from 7 a.m. until 8:45 a.m. There will be three routes. The beginner route is 3.5 miles, the intermediate route is 17.5 miles and the advanced route is a 30‐mile course. Maps will be available on race day. All riders must wear helmets. Break stations, a SAG wagon & course markings will be provided. There will be drawings for door prizes after the ride as well as trophies awarded for youngest riders, best costumes, and farthest traveler, plus other awards. Riders can pick up their pre-registration t-shirt the day of the event. Participation Fee is $20. Make checks payable to: Main Street Russellville. Registrations will be taken up to and on the day of the ride. Parking for riders will be available in the Sugar Creek Foods parking lot on West C Street. Craig Witcher and Michael & Whitney Stoker are event co-chairs.
Car and Truck Show
The 2015 Car and Truck Show is being presented by Chris Turner and Terry Altman at Trique Manufacturing. The registration fee is $15 for pre-entry before October 25 and $20 after that date. Registration takes place from 7:30 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. Awards include merchant and best of show trophies. A Pre-show Get Together will be hosted on the Friday night before festival day. Pre-registrants will be escorted by Russellville Police Department north of town to Trique Manufacturing in Dover for tire kickin’ and a good meal. Car show registration is required to attend. For additional information, contact Chris or Amber Turner at 479-967-3366 or 6449 Market Street, Russellville, AR 72802.
Children’s Costume Contest
The Children’s Costume Contest will begin with registration from 10:00 – 10:45 a.m. on stage at CARQUEST Auto Parts parking lot. The contest begins at 11 a.m. Forms must be completed to participate and include pertinent information including the appropriate age group. The contest is free for children aged infant – 12 years. Prizes will be awarded by age group. The event is sponsored and conducted by volunteers with Junior Auxiliary of Russellville, Inc.
CASI-Sanctioned Chili Cookoff
The eagerly-anticipated Chili Cookoff begins with cooks and teams setting up at 6:30 a.m. Registration is from 8 a.m. until 9:30 a.m. The Cook’s Meeting is conducted at 9:30 a.m. Prepared entries must be submitted at noon. Showmanship is judged between 10 and 11 a.m. Chili turn in time is at 11:30 a.m. and chili tasting kits go on sale at noon. Chili is sold after judging and proceeds will go toward defraying costs of the event and to benefit Main Street Russellville, a non-profit downtown revitalization organization. Chili-tasting kits will be sold for sampling at noon from the ARVEST tent located at the intersection of Commerce Ave. and W. B Street. Price per kit is just $4 or get a kit plus a cold drink for $5. The presentation of awards will begin at 1:00 p.m. and announced on stage at CARQUEST Auto Parts parking lot.
Entry fee is $25 per 10’ x 10’ team space with prizes awarded in the following divisions: CASI (Chili Appreciation Society International), Local (“Anything Goes”) Division, ATU Division, Best Costumes, People’s Choice and Showmanship Awards. The event is sanctioned by the, so CASI rules apply to compete in that division. The Local/Anything Goes Division has similar rules to CASI entries but organizers describe this division as…”Chili that is made of anything but the kitchen sink!” The Showmanship Category allows participants the chance to “ham it up” with booth decorations and “chili Charisma!” Showmanship judging will be based on the following criteria: theme, costume, booth set up, action and audience appeal. For a complete listing of rules, visit mainstreetrussellville.com. Co-chairs Nicole Finkenbinder, Stefanie Jones, Christy Scott and associates of ARVEST Bank sponsor and coordinate the Chili Cookoff.
K-9 Capers Dog Show
While the K-9 Capers Committee thinks any day to encourage caring for pets is a great day, what better day to have dogs in costumes than on Halloween! This year, Bob, Debra, Madeline and Shadow Fithen; Joe, Sarah, Courtney, Emily and Chester Keating and Larry, Sandy, Abby and Chloe Cheffer are organizing the K-9 Capers Dog Show. They are also working with other animal lovers including the 4H K9 Club; 4H Hilltop Kids; Price’s Town and Country Store; Johnny Story and River Valley Radio; Arkansas Tech University and the Green and Gold Club; Sylvia Wright CPDT-KA, owner and trainer for the Wright School; photographer, Vicki Jones; the Russellville Animal Shelter; Cass Capen-Housley with Four Dogs Bakery; No Kill Russellville and several local vets and several pet supply businesses. Numerous local sponsors are providing great prizes for participants.
This year’s judged categories will be: Cutest Costume, Best Talent, Highest Jump, Longest Stay, Best Look Alike (Dog and the their Person). There will also be prizes for Best Showmanship.
Registration for the K-9 Capers will begin at 1 p.m. next to the main stage on the CARQUEST Auto Parts parking lot. Dogs and their persons will line up for the Grand Parade beginning at 1:45 p.m. The contest will begin at 2 p.m. and judging will be limited to the first 35 registered. While the judges are tallying the results, Sylvia Wright, CPDT-KA, will demonstrate part of her dog training program.
This contest is for youth–grades K-8 and his/her dog. Guardian must remain at the show with contestant, but youth must show the dog. Owners must bring proof of dog’s current vaccination. Dogs must be on leash and under owner’s control at all times. Any dog (or their person) may be excused for disruptive or aggressive behavior, or acting inappropriately. For more information, call 479-857-8046 and look for the K-9 Capers Dog Show on Facebook.
This year, the Fall Fest entertainment stage will be located on the CARQUEST Auto Parts parking lot. Performances include Some Guy Named Robb, Jamie Lou, Jazz Reunion, Larissa Gudino, Tena’s Gymnastics and the LTD Edition Cloggers. An opening ceremony with an invocation, the Pledge of Allegiance and performance of the National Anthem will begin at 9 a.m.
Application Forms and Additional Information
Registration for many of the events and activities may still take place on the day of the festival. Forms for all events are available from the Depot or online at: mainstreetrussellville.com. Checks for registration should be made payable to Main Street Russellville (indicate activity on the memo line) and mailed (or delivered) with completed application to: Main Street Russellville, 320 W. C Street @ the Depot, P.O. Box 694, Russellville, AR 72811. For additional information please call the Main Street Russellville office at (479) 967-1437 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Main Street Russellville, is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to the revitalization of the historic heart of the city.