A major part of Toad Suck Daze in Conway, Arkansas is, of course, all of the arts and crafts booths with everything from wooden roses to jewelry to mahogany models to homemade jams, jellies, and sauces for sale. I didn't know I needed a jar of Bill's Homemade Texas Caviar, but I got one and it's pretty darn good! Don't know about Texas Caviar? Hang around to the end and in a first for this blog, I'll throw in a recipe.
There was one thing I did know I really needed and I snagged one - a Toad Suck Harley Davidson t-shirt to go along with my Harley Davidson key chain. I'm now well on my way to becoming the bad boy outlaw biker all the men want to be like and all the girls want to be with - just as soon as I save enough to buy the motorcycle. I probably need to buy a Harley Davidson cap too. For sure. I can't wait to buy that cap next year!
No small-town festival would be a festival without featuring entertainment from the local dance troupes, karate clubs, and school bands, choirs, and baton twirlers. They don't get the headlines like the "big names" who come to perform, but it's a big deal for the kids and their parents for all who are chosen to perform for the Toad Suck masses!
Once the Tricycle Race and Baby Crawl are out of the way, the big attraction for kids of all ages is the World Championship Toad Races, presided over by the Toad Master under the Toad Dome. On the Monday before the festival opens, all the kids in kindergarten through elementary school grades are given cardboard Toad Houses - a folding box with handles and breathing holes decorated like a house with pictures and sponsor logo's painted on the sides. During this week it's open season on area toads as kids drive daddy's crazy until a toad is captured from the ponds, creeks, or the back porch (leave the back porch light on after dark and you are almost guaranteed to have a toad or two come up just begging to be grabbed).
Beginning Friday evening, the toads are brought to the race track and the run for the trophy is on! Don't worry if you don't have your own toad; you can borrow a veteran race runner toad from the holding pen beside the track. The key to winning your race is to warm the toad in your hands for a while before the race (cold toads just squat down and don't jump) and give it a race worthy name. The Toad Master always asks your toad's name and no toad named "Toad" or "Frog" or "No Name" has ever won while "Lightning" and "Speedy" and "Blaze" are almost sure to win. A toad named "Toadily Awesome" won the championship last year.
All of those folks who love old cars, new cars, modified cars, or funky cars will certainly enjoy the car show. The first time I came to the festival, there were 2 good sized parking lots where you walked among the autos on display. This year, there were 3 large lots with many more cars parked in the blocked off streets. It was a nostalgic trip down memory lane ogling the '55 Chevy's, the '67 Mustangs, the '69 Camaro's and Vette's from every year they've been made. I'm not a huge car buff, but I did spend a lot of quality time here!
But with all of the activities and fun stuff going on, in my opinion, the most important people to the success of the annual Toad Suck Daze Festival are the unknown, the unrewarded, the unpublicized - the Porta-potty cleaners. For you unsung heroes, here's a big "Salute!"
Remember the recipe for Texas Caviar I promised? Here it is. Experiment with it a bit - make it spicier, hotter, milder, add corn. Serve it with Tostitos Scoop chips or Triscuits. Yummy!
- 1/2 purple onion, chopped
- 1 green bell pepper, chopped
- 1 bunch green onions, chopped
- 2 or 3 jalapeno peppers, chopped
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
- 1 (8 ounce) bottle zesty Italian dressing
- 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained
- 1 (15 ounce) can black-eyed peas, drained
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 bunch chopped fresh cilantro
- In a large bowl, mix together onion, green bell pepper, green onions, jalapeno peppers, garlic, cherry tomatoes, zesty Italian dressing, black beans, black-eyed peas and coriander. Cover and chill in the refrigerator approximately 4 hours or overnight. Toss with desired amount of fresh cilantro to serve.