Some like the cotton candy and caramel apples. Others prefer the petting zoo, where they can share a bit of affection with a calf or pony or a kid goat. Assorted mechanical rides along the carnival midway are always an attraction. Almost everyone enjoys trying a game of chance in which they can win prizes. And beauty queens, rodeo competition, talent shows and assorted exhibits always add to the flavor.
It doesn’t matter what age a Southeast Arkansas District Livestock Show and Rodeo attendee may be as the annual Pine Bluff event is seemingly fun for all.
Even though the air was thick with humidity Tuesday night, it was obvious that a group of Pine Bluff residents were relishing the sights and sounds.
Four Willis sisters — Selena, Alexa, Kara and Sasha, ages 10, 6, 5 and 3, respectively — and a friend, 8-year-old Ashley Boyd, were excited about seeing prize-winning calves, cows and bulls on display.
And when 18-year-old Bailey Covington of Austin (Lonoke County) guided her roped, award-winning calf to the girls, they squealed with delight. The calf behaved as if it knew it was the center of attention, dropping its head so the girls could stroke it.
“It felt weird petting that calf, but I liked it,” said Selena, a Coleman Intermediate School fifth-grader.
Looking on was the Willis sisters’ grandmother, Robbie Willis, who marveled at the youngsters’ energy.
“I think this is one of the best family activities around,” the elder Willis said. “We all look forward to coming to the fair together each year.”
Accompanying Ashley Boyd were her parents, Nathan and Amy Boyd, and 13-year-old brother Brian Boyd. Joining the bunch was friend Harold Ray.
“I like riding in the race cars,” said Ashley, a third-grader at L.L. Owen Elementary School.
“I came here last year,” proclaimed Kara, a kindergartner at Edgewood Elementary School, “and my favorite ride is that icy thing that goes around and around!”
Edgewood first-grader Alexa interjected her opinion that the Ferris wheel was the “best of all the rides.” Selena disagreed, giving the tornado top ranking.
The girls were asked what was on their agenda for the remainder of the evening.
“Rides and rides!” was one response. “Hot dogs and pizza!” came another.
Yep, it’s fair time.