Marissa Varnell, left, and her husband Zac Varnell ride the Ferris wheel on the opening night of the fair Tuesday. Special to The Commercial/William Harvey
Caleb Hill, 13, left, Melissa Hill, and Canaan Hill, 11, twist and turn on the tilt-a-whirl during the opening night of the fair Tuesday at Hestand Stadium. Special to The Commercial/William Harvey
Passing by the lights blinking and strobing, sounds of buzzes and whistles and the aroma of funnel cakes and corn dogs only means one thing — the fair has come to town.
Tuesday night the 2012 Southeast Arkansas District Livestock Show Fair and Rodeo opened up for family night at Hestand Stadium.
For many, the fair brought back memories of childhood and good times with family and friends.
“I’m here with my children and grandchildren,” said Carrie Beranek as she held her granddaughter while her daughter and son-in-law enjoyed a ride. “We’re from Iowa but we have been coming to this fair for 20 years.”
Beranek and her family now live in Pine Bluff with their family. When asked how the local fair compares to Iowa’s, she said, “I don’t remember as many rides, but a fair is fun.”
Murray Bowens and his two young sons were also there to enjoy the atmosphere of family fun.
“We’re going to try that one for the first time together,” he said this pointing to the 1001 Nachts, which takes riders on a high flying swing.
After the ride, he and his family planned to enjoy the other part of the fair — the food. Some people went for lemonade, and some went for polish sausage, but funnel cake was on just about everyone’s list.
Corn dogs were also on the long list of treats and according to one of the many booths that sold them, thousands of the fried, dippable, goodies on a stick were expected to be sold over the week.
Sandra Dye with Southern State Show, a company that travels to fairs in nearby states, had already seen the good sales of food at her previous stops at Star City and Monticello, she said.
“I was told that Pine Bluff was a great place, with friendly people,” Dye said.
Her wish of selling to lots of hungry patrons might have come true Tuesday night, she indicated.
“We have sold a lot,” Dye said.
Deloris Sipes, another vendor, said ticket sales were doing well.
“I have been doing this for years and this has been the busiest,” she said, adding that that she’d sold more than three times as many as this time last year.
The district fair will continue through Saturday. Highlights include:
• The annual parade is scheduled Thursday at 4:45 p.m. in downtown Pine Bluff on Main Street.
• Armband Nights will be held from 6 to 10 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
• Thursday will be Student and Senior Citizens Day and the Gospel Music Talent Show will be held at 6:30 p.m. The rodeo begins at 7:30 p.m.
• Everybody’s Talent Show will begin at 6:30 p.m. Friday and Midnite Madness will be held from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.
• The Southeast Arkansas District Talent Show finals will be Saturday at 6:30 p.m.
• The rodeo final will be held at 7:30 p.m. Saturday as well as the crowning of the Rodeo Queen.
Details: Call Hestand Stadium at 535-2900.