Frontier Days

Paris, AR, gateway to Mt. Magazine.
If a festival has been held for 32 years, it must be a pretty good one. That's a good corollary to follow when one must choose between multiple festivals occurring on the same day. With the cooler weather of fall upon us, there are literally dozens of festivals and goings-on every weekend for the next 3 months so I had to choose and that's how I found myself in Paris last weekend. No, not THAT Paris, not even Paris, Texas.  Paris, Arkansas, where the 32nd annual Frontier Days Festival was being held. "Where Yesterday Meets Today For A Day."

With a 5K race, parade, antique car show, helicopter rides, horse & buggy rides, turtle race, hay bale toss, log sawing contest, nail driving contest, and the Miss Mt. Magazine Pageant, it sounded likely to be a full day of fun, food, and crafts. There's supposed to even be an 1870s hangin’ - something for everyone! The one thing they didn't have was an agenda with the times of the events listed. I understand that festivals can't stay strictly to schedule for a number of reasons, but if you advertise contests and events, then let visitors know at least the approximate times and locations where these things will take place! Publish them on your website if you have one, list them on a sign at the festival grounds or at the very least, announce them in between the performing bands and local talent. Sadly, I didn't get to see the hay bale toss or the log sawing - I have no idea whether I got there too late or left too early. I did see the nail driving contest, but only because I happened to be walking by the little corner of the grounds where they had it at the time they were having it. There were no announcements or anything and very few on-lookers. I can only assume the 5 or 6 participants knew what time to show up because they were told when they signed up. I also did not see the hangin'. Darn, I was looking forward to seeing a ne'er do well receive his just deserts!

This daddy/daughter duo were really good!
I did get to see the turtle race. Well, I saw part of the turtle race. I came upon it after it had started, watched for a while, and left before it was over. I'm sure the owner of the winning turtle is very proud of their creature. Laying claim to having the fastest turtle in the area will get a kid envious stares from his classmates, I'm sure, and maybe even help with getting that first kiss from a girl. But I'm here to tell you, watching turtles run is right up there with watching grass grow or paint dry in the excitement category. Run, turtle, run! I probably should have stayed for what I'm sure was an exciting, close finish. Speedy beats Lightning by a terrapin nose!

OK, so there were a couple of negatives, but don't let those minor things keep you away because this was actually one of the larger and better festivals. The car show was excellent. A good number of vendors offering everything from fishing rods to pet clothes to jars of comb honey made for interesting browsing. The local Boy Scouts troop was selling cold drinks and home-made chili ( having just had lunch shortly before I found the Boy Scout's tent, I didn't partake, but it sure looked yummy). Located next to the jump houses for the kids were several food vendors selling cotton candy, turkey legs, and other usual festival foods.

Of personal interest and something that made me happy to see was the presence of the local chapter of Vietnam Veterans of America. I passed some time happily conversing with my fellow vets and was happy to make a donation for the memorial they are trying to fund.

Pioneer woman talking on her pioneer iPhone.
The "people watching" was fun with a number of folks dressed as Indians, frontier men and wives in their pioneer finest. For a small donation to the Miner's Memorial Fund, you could take a 10 minute horse & buggy ride around town and for $30 per person, you could take a tour of the area via helicopter. My family and I chose the horse & buggy.

The Momma Woman and Youngest-Daughter climbed in the back seat of the buggy, which left the front seat next to the driver for me. The driver was a nice guy, older, weather-beaten and grizzled looking with a 3-day growth of beard. He had candy for the little kids who sometimes were very interested in, but a bit afraid of the horse. He didn't give a running commentary of how old the courthouse is or who lives in that house or what that building used to house. He talked about the weather, he talked about his horse, and he talked about the festival. I asked, but no, he didn't know when the hanging was going to be either. I felt sympathy for the horse. He was obviously old - swayback, dull, bored eyes and his brown coat full of gray. I'm no horse expert, but it looked to me like he was on his last legs. Pulling a buggy full of people was his retirement, his reward for a life of hard work.

A few minutes into the ride, we pulled up behind a car stopped at a red light. The light turned green, the car drove on, but the horse didn't. The driver encouraged him with a gentle flick of the reins and that poor old nag slowly started walking. Cars were behind us and at this pace we might not even make it across the street before the light turned red again so the driver gave more encouragement with a more insistent flick of the reins. That sweet, obedient animal started walking faster, and whether just naturally or by choice, gave vent to his displeasure at having to move a little quicker. And when I say vent, that's what I mean. He did his part adding to greenhouse gases. Loudly. At first, I chuckled, just barely containing a guffaw at something every person in the world finds funny. But then, the odor wafted back to the front seat. My smile quickly evaporated, much quicker than the smell did. This one was evidently a bit much even for the old cowboy driving us who, no doubt, had been on the receiving end of his share of horse poots, as he managed to keep a straight face, but did give a couple of quick shakes of his head. Shake it off, cowboy, shake it off! The air slowly returned to breathable, but my sympathies for that damn horse were gone for good.

My family and I definitely had a good time. The horse poot in the face incident wasn't something on my bucket list, but hey, it was a first for me so there's another item I can now check off of my "been there, done that" list. And you know what? Actually, I have to admit, the turtle race was pretty fun!

There was an excellent car show!
The trailer for this combo is an old
Coke ice chest.

Great paint job!

Plenty of "Antique" stores to browse through.