Expanded Ding Dong Days culminates Saturday in Dumas

Saturday marks the culmination of a week’s worth of events centered around the 33rd annual Ding Dong Days Festival in downtown Dumas.

The event is being held in late September for the first time instead of the traditional last full weekend in July for a pair of very good reasons, according to festival chairperson Bobbi Lynn Clayton.

“Heat, heat, and heat; that has a lot to do with it,” Clayton said when asked about the reason for the date change. “We also wanted to have the schools more involved in it which also gets the community more involved in it. Having the festival during the summer meant that a lot of people who had wanted to participate were not able to because of other commitments.”

Clayton said there will be a carnival on Court Street offering a number of kids activities.

“The Fun Day will go on from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Court Street and is free,” Clayton said. “From 6 a.m. until 10 a.m. First United Methodist Church will host the Merle Peterson Memorial Pancake Breakfast. It has always been a part of the festival. At 8 a.m. we will have the Ding Dong Days 5k Walk-Run on Court Street.”

Activities for the Fun Day include a cakewalk; horseshoe tournament; balloon artist; inflatables; snake den; face painting; and the Ding Dong Eating Contest at the Sweet Shop.

Dumas Chamber of Commerce board member Charlotte Schexnayder created the festival in 1980 after being named chair of the cultural committee and being told to start a festival, according to information provided by the Chamber. The need for a festival had been cited for several years and was evident after the public response to the city’s 75th anniversary celebration in 1979.

The festival was held in July in order to coincide with the founding date of Dumas’ 1904 incorporation, according to the Chamber.

The festival gets its name from the once popular song ‘I’m a Ding Dong Daddy from Dumas’ written in the late 1920s by Phil Baxter and played by bands appearing in Southeast Arkansas at the time.