Posted on June 12, 2012
Originally published in the El Dorado News-Times on June 13, 2012.
By: David Showers
Downtown Smackover is expected to swell with more than 20,000 people this week during the 41st annual Oil Town Festival, to be held Thursday through Saturday.
Tommie Fleming, manager for the Smackover Chamber of Commerce, said the estimate includes festival-goers from as far afield as Louisiana, Oklahoma and Missouri who will converge on the town for a busy weekend of events and live music. A full schedule of events is posted at the chamber?s website: www.smackoverar.com.
The venerable festival?s popularity helped it garner a prestigious Henry Award at last year?s Governor?s Conference on Tourism. The Oil Town celebration won the Grand Old Classic Special Event Award, presented annually to a festival, fair or other special event that serves as an exemplar for the more than 1,200 special events the state holds annually.
“Out of every festival in the state, that was really a coup for us to get that award,? Fleming said.
The duck race scheduled for Saturday is also acclaimed, winning the best new event at last year?s tourism awards. In its fourth year, the race is renowned for the flotilla of yellow rubber ducks that wend their way down No-Name Creek.
The ducks are $2 each and the owner of the first one across the finish line wins $1,000. The owners of the second- and third-place ducks respectively win $500 and $250. A $100 prize is reserved for the last-place duck. Fleming said she expects about 3,000 ducks to be purchased. The race begins at 5 p.m.
The 34th Smackover Oil Run will start at 7:30 a.m. Saturday at Kennedy Park. There?s a $10 preregistration entry fee for the five-kilometer run, with a $15 fee the day of the race. Registration forms are available at any Smackover State Bank location or Arkansas runner.com.
In addition to the run, several oil-related competitions are slated for Saturday. There?s the drill bit throwing contest at 9:30 a.m. and the rod-wrenching contest at 11:00 a.m. The latter is a test of torque, with competitors using large wrenches to twist pipes out of the ground. Fleming said several oil men from Oklahoma have entered the event. The pipe-tote contest follows at 12:30 p.m.
Other competitions on Saturday include horseshoes, a rib cook-off and an egg toss. A bake-off, watermelon-eating contest and bingo are scheduled for Friday.
The festivities begin at 6:00 p.m. Thursday with a Bunco tournament. This year?s tourney features teams from Stamps and Stephens trekking to Smackover to compete in the popular dice-rolling game. The Gusher Relay for kids also starts at 6:00 p.m., and a free concert presenting the Christian-Pop stylings of Dara Maclean and Gold Record-winning singer-songwriter Terri Sharp will cap the evening.
Musical acts CS Dubb and Alize will put on free concerts Friday night, and rhythm-and-blues act Windstorm and classic rocker Jason D. Williams will provide the entertainment Saturday night.
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