Children watch with nervous anticipation during the ever-popular turtle races. BULLETIN FILE

Jewel Chest, said Plumlee. Each year, Carter’s Jewel

Chest donates a diamond pendant, last year’s was val- ued at $3,650. One hundred percent

of the proceeds

raised by selling raffle tickets will go to the Red White & Blue Festival. For an event this size, it’s

amazing how much is free, said Ballard. “There is no charge for

anything except the food you buy or going to the rodeo,” Ballard said. “Most of what we have on ASU is free. Usu- ally the kids events are free, all you have to do is bring chairs or blankets and be there for whole evening. The music is free. Anyone from any walk of life can come in and afford this and enjoy it.”

Growth As the Red White & Blue

festival gained in popularity, more community members

wanted to partner with it so it has continued to expand, said Ballard. The police added a 5K the

race; Catholic church

wanted to include a break- fast; the Chamber of Com- merce added the parade on Friday evening; at one point there was a beauty pageant, Ballard said. About 15 years ago, Tom-

my Rand with Rand Rodeo Company added the rodeo portion

of the celebration

and it has been “outstand- ing,” Rand said. This year’s rodeo is 8 p.m.

Friday and Saturday at the Baxter County Fairgrounds. Gates open at 5 p.m. At 7 p.m., there is a pre-show and a kids’ rodeo where children can ride ponies and play games. Tickets are $8 for adults; $5 for children 6-12; 5 and younger are free. “If you only go to one ro- deo a year, this is the one you

will want to see,” he said. Rodeo clow Dusty Myers

will be there to entertain. The rodeo has been voted

the best and biggest in Ar- kansas, several times, Rand said. “This is the best seats in

the house for the fireworks. You will feel like they are fall- ing right over your head,” Rand said.

More Fun Food options abound and

include barbecue, popcorn, snow cones, drinks, even an Asian noodle truck that was a hit in 2017. “This year we will have the

third annual rib eating con- test. Last year the guy that won, oh my goodness, he had 40-something ribs

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