Rector Set for Big Labor Day Weekend
The 76th annual Labor Day Picnic begins Friday. The picnic is going to be a fun filled extravaganza for one and all as visitors from all walks of life join together in Rector to celebrate the biggest community event of the year.
The annual picnic has grown over the years to encompass four days of festivities including musical talents, carnival rides and food by the tons. First held in 1941, the picnic has provided funds for maintenance of Rector's beautiful Woodland Heights Cemetery located north of town on Crowley's Ridge.
Festivities will kick off at 10:30 a.m. Friday, Sept. 4, with the annual Rector High School Hall of Fame golf tournament, which is held as a memorial to Dr. Owen H. Clopton. Registration begins at Kennett Country Club at 9 a.m. -- cost is $200 per team.
Friday evening showcases two events at Memorial Park. The talented members of The Ultimate Oldies Show will perform songs from the 50s and 60s. Reserved seating tickets are $20 and general admission is $15. To purchase tickets, persons may call (870)595-3035 or visit the Rector Water Department.
The popular Championship Rodeo returns to the Rector Saddle Club Arena beginning at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Events will include sheep riding, steer riding, junior barrels, senior barrels, a calf scramble, bull riding, wild cow milking, wild horse racing, money the hard way and team roping.
Saturday will kick off with the annual Labor Day 5K at 8 a.m., sponsored by the Rector High School Helping Hands. Another event later in the day is the Rector High School Sports Hall of Fame dessert and reception set at the high school gym at 1 p.m. where new members will be inducted.
The ever-popular carnival rides will set up on the picnic grounds and begin at 1 p.m. Sunday. Armbands will be in effect from 1 to 5, and will be available at 4 p.m. Monday, as well.
Rector Downtown Central, Inc. will host an ice cream social from 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday with local talent as entertainment.
Organizers are seeking contestants for the very popular pageants held Sunday, Sept. 6 and Monday, Sept. 7.
Sunday will feature the first four of the annual beauty pageants.
Girls ages five to second grade will compete for Petite Miss Rector at 2 p.m. Entry fee is $20, and the pageant is open to everyone.The Petite Miss Rector pageant practice will be at 10 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 5. Contact information for the pageant directors is Shelly, Jordan or Emily Cornelison at (870) 240-5354, evening only.
The Pre-teen Miss Rector pageant for girls third through fifth grade will begin at 3 p.m. Entry fee is $20 and the pageant is open to everyone. Sunday dresses are the required attire. The Preteen Miss Rector pageant practice will be at 11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 5. Contact information for the pageant director is Sarah Hicks at (870) 595-4342.
Girls sixth through ninth grade will compete in the Junior Miss Rector pageant at 4 p.m. Sunday. Entry fee will be $20 and the required attire is Sunday dresses or party dresses. This pageant is open to everyone. Practice will be at noon Saturday, Sept. 5. Contact information is Colby Lynch at (870) 324-1159.
The Ms. Rector pageant will be at 8 p.m. Sunday for women 22-years-old and older, married or single. This pageant is open to everyone and formal dress is required. Practice for the pageant will be at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 4. Entry fee is $20 and all participants are asked to pre-register. Contact information for the pageant director is Jade Simpson at (870)236-0587.
The streets of Rector will come alive with the annual parade at 9 a.m. Monday, Sept. 7, beginning at the corner of Third and Main Streets. Grand Marshal of the 2015 parade will be Bobby Tracer, who has volunteered with the picnic for many years.
Political speeches from local politicians will begin at 9:55 a.m. Politicians include Congressman Rick Crwford, Joe Jett, Blake Johnson, Clay County Judge Gary Howell, Clay County judge candidate Mike Patterson and circuit court judge candidate Richard Lusby.
Seven pageants will take place Monday.
The baby pageants will be from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Entry fee is $20 and casual or Sunday dress attire will be required. These pageants are open to everyone.
Tiny Mr. Rector will begin at 11 a.m. and include baby boys from newborn to 12-months-old. Tiny Miss Rector will begin at 12 p.m. and includes baby girls from newborn to 12-months-old.
Baby Mr. Rector will begin at 1 p.m. and includes baby boys from 13-months-old to 23-months-old. Baby Miss Rector will begin at 2 p.m. and include baby girls from 13-months-old to 23-months-old. All participants should confirm participation 15 minutes prior to pageants. Contact information for pageant directors is Harmony and Haven Cagle at (870) 595-4625, evenings only.
Little Mr. Rector will begin at 3 p.m. and include toddlers two to four years of age. Entry fee is $20 and the pageant is open to everyone. Casual or Sunday dress is required, and participants should confirm entry 15 minutes prior to pageant time. Little Miss Rector will begin at 4 p.m. and will include toddler girls from the age of two through four-years-old. Casual or Sunday dresses are required. Entry fee is $20 and participants need to confirm participation 15 minutes prior. Contact info for the toddler pageants directors is Sherry and Madison Cate at (870) 595-4353.
The annual Miss Rector pageant will be at 8 p.m. All contestants will be given a business sponsor who will pay the $25 entry fee. Director Jade Simpson can be reached at (870) 236-0587. This contest is open to any girl 10th grade to 21-years-old who has never been married or had children. Contestants must attend school at Rector High School or must have graduated from the Rector School District. Formal dress is required, as is pre-registration. Practice will be at 6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 4. Miss Rector's Queen will receive a $1,000 gift in memory of Ms. Colleen Ford Graves.
Monday's festivities will also feature live performances beginning with The Dooleys at 5 p.m., The Lucky Brothers at 5:45 p.m., and the final performance will be at 7 p.m. by Drive South Lori Dial with Finley Watkins. After the Miss Rector pageant a $1,000 drawing will take place closing the weekend.
Tracer Named Grand Marhsal
Longtime Rector resident and Labor Day Parade grand marshal Bobby Tracer will be greeting picnic-goers Monday morning, warmly waving as the parade moves down Main Street to Rector Memorial Park. "It's a great honor to have been chosen," Tracer said. "I was pretty surprised."
Tracer and his parents, Dottie and Harold Tracer, moved to Rector when he was 10-years-old, but he's never called anywhere else home.
He became involved with the picnic in 1972 when he began helping Guy Adams cook barbecue for all the visitors. The famous barbecue is one of the highlights for most. Tracer enjoys this job he's done for so many years, because "I get to see everybody in town," Tracer said. "Everyone comes through the barbecue stand."
While he has enjoyed all the years of volunteering at the picnic, he first began because it was a job that kept him out late and he found it fun.
Tracer's first job was keeping the fire going. If it got too hot the meat wouldn't cook right and the possibility of burning came into play. "It's a lot of work, but a lot of fun," Tracer said.
In those days cooking was done in a different manner. They began by cutting eight rank of hickory firewood. The first step is to check your meat, and make sure everything is kosher before lighting the fire and starting the real cooking. "Back then we used a large fire pit, and you had to be very careful to watch your temperature and how you lit it," Tracer said.
Tracer has seen many changes in the way the barbecue has been prepared over the years, including upgrading to a temperature-regulated grill. Also, years ago cooking would begin Friday evening and the barbecue would be ready around noon Monday. Anywhere from 2,500 to 3,000 pounds of meat are cooked for each picnic.
Tracer's favorite part of being involved with the picnic for so many years was the people. He spent a lot of time with his fellow chefs, including Charles Manchester, Donald Winchester, Slim Taylor, Randy Mills, Buddy Fahr and William Edgin, to name a few.
Today Tracer and the other volunteers are teaching the next generation to cook barbecue for Labor Day as the men before taught him. The main thing about the Labor Day Picnic is that "it means so much to everyone in Rector as does the cemetery it supports," Tracer said. "We all have so many loved ones there."