Piggott Fourth of July Picnic is Set
Organizers report "America the Beautiful" is the theme for the annual Piggott Fourth of July Picnic and Homecoming celebration for 2016. With the Independence Day holiday falling on Monday this year, activities at the picnic grounds in Piggott will be held both Saturday, July 2, and Monday, July 4.
A longtime local physician, and former Army Medical Reservist, will serve as Grand Marshal of the 89th annual Piggott Fourth of July Picnic Parade, set for 9 a.m. on Monday, July 4. Leading this year's procession will be Dr. Hillard Duckworth, M.D., a native of the Pollard area and a 60-year-plus fixture in Piggott-area healthcare.
"I'm grateful they asked me to be the Grand Marshal," he remarked of the honor. "At first I told them I'd think about it, but then I decided I'd like to do it. So, now we're getting ready."
Duckworth was raised in the Pollard area, was a graduate of Piggott High School and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and the U of A Medical School in Little Rock. He later trained in St. Louis City Hospital, in St. Louis, before returning to Northeast Arkansas in 1955 to practice medicine.
Duckworth was accompanied on his return to Piggott by his new wife, Gwen, a nurse from Quincy, Ill., he had met while working at the hospital in St. Louis. She was also instrumental in helping re-establish viable healthcare in the Piggott area in the mid 1950s, and continued in the profession for many years prior to her retirement.
In the decades since, Dr. Duckworth has kept regular office hours, and made hospital rounds, caring for thousands of regional residents. And, prior to the 1970s, when the local hospital shut down its delivery room, Duckworth estimated he delivered in excess of 1,000 babies.
"I was from the Korean War era, right after World War II, and served about 10 years in the Army Medical Reserves," he added. "Of course, I didn't see any active duty, but I was proud to serve my country."
He'll lead the procession to the picnic grounds as Grand Marshal, and reported his daughter, Laura French, would have the honor of driving him down the parade route.
There are also a number of changes for the 2016 picnic, which benefits the continued maintenance and upkeep of the Piggott Cemetery. The hours of operation, and the menu, are changing for the kitchen; there will be three separate armband sessions for the carnival and the rides will be shutting down for an hour Monday afternoon from 3 to 4 for maintenance.
This year the activities are slated to kick-off Saturday, July 2, with the first three pageants as Young Junior Miss Piggott, Junior Miss Piggott and Mrs. Piggott are chosen. The complete schedule of pageants, including contact information, may be found at the end of this story. The midway will also be open from 5 to 10 p.m. with the first armband promotion Saturday evening, and barbecue will be on sale in the log cabin. Once again this year the carnival rides are being provided by Johnson's Rides and Concessions, of El Dorado. Their offerings include an 80-foot-tall ferris wheel, European Super Sizzler, 110 foot super slide, the Squirrel Cage, a rollercoaster and new kiddie rides. And, in keeping with tradition they also offer a variety of tasty treats, including funnel cakes, cotton candy and more.
Armbands are currently on sale for $15 for each of the three sessions, and the price will be $20 at the picnic grounds. The first armband will be good for 5 to 10 p.m. on Saturday and the second will be good from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Monday, July 4. The carnival will be shut-down from 3 to 4 p.m. on Monday, and the third armband will be good from 4 to 10 p.m. Individual tickets for single rides will also be available. Advance armbands are available at The Treasure Chest, Al Williams and Sons Nursery, Fred Ort Insurance Agency, Piggott State Bank and First National Bank, Piggott Banking Center.
Parade registration will be conducted from 8 to 8:50 a.m., on Monday, July 4, at Piggott Fire Station #1, located at the corner of West Jackson and North Fourth Avenue. Line-up will follow in the First Baptist Church parking lot on West Main. The parade is set to roll at 9, with Duckworth serving as Grand Marshal (see related story). Around 10 a.m. the traditional opening ceremonies will be held on the main stage at the picnic grounds, with the presentation of colors and National Anthem performed by the PHS Marching Mohawk band.
Following the invocation, Piggott Mayor Jim Poole will offer the official welcome. Afterward, Molly Daffron is scheduled to sing.
Around mid-morning, local attorney C. W. Knauts will have the honor of introducing the political speakers in attendance. Afterward, at 11 a.m., the pageant schedule resumes with the Baby Mr. and Miss Piggott pageant. Other pageants are set for noon, 12:30, 1:30, 2 and 3 p.m. as well.
This year the kitchen at the picnic grounds will once again be serving the traditional fried chicken meal, but will only be open for lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Entertainment by Megan Johnson will be featured on the main stage beginning at 5 p.m. with additional entertainment to be featured as the schedule allows. Special entertainers for the evening will be Bombay Black, featuring Barry Whaley. They're slated to perform several sets prior to the Miss Piggott Pageant at 8 p.m. Once again this year the winner of the Miss Piggott Pageant will receive a $500 scholarship, compliments of Piggott State Bank. Organizers also report Piggott State Bank donated $1,500 toward the cost of this year's entertainment.
The fireworks display is scheduled for 10 p.m. and is fully sponsored by First National Bank, Piggott Banking Center. The Cemetery Association noted a new company is handling the fireworks this year, and promises the display will be bigger and better.
The 2016 picnic will end around 10:30 p.m. with the drawings for three $5,000 cash prizes. Tickets for the drawings are currently on sale from Piggott Cemetery Association members, and will be available throughout the two days of the activities at the picnic grounds.
Piggott Fourth of July Picnic and Celebration will feature a full slate of pageants, beginning on the evening of Saturday, July 2, and continuing throughout the day on Monday, July 4. The entry fee for all pageants is $25 per contestant, and only specific attire will be allowed.
The first pageant begins at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 2, as young ladies ages 9 to 12 compete for the title Young Junior Miss Piggott. The attire for this pageant is formal wear only. At 6:30 p.m. young ladies ages 13 to 16 will participate in the Junior Miss Piggott Pageant, and the appropriate attire is formal pageant wear. And, at 8 p.m. the annual Mrs. Piggott Pageant will be held, and the attire is also formal.
The schedule for Monday, July 4, begins at 11:00 a.m. with the Baby Mr. and Miss pageant, for boys and girls ages birth to 11 months. It will be followed at 12:30 p.m. by the Tiny Mr. and Miss Piggott pageant for boys and girls ages 12 to 24 months. At 2 p.m. the Little Mr. and Miss Independence pageant will be held for boys and girls ages 2 to 4 years, followed at 3 p.m. by the Little Miss Firecracker pageant for little girls ages 5 to 8.
The highlight of the day will begin at 8 p.m. as Miss Piggott 2016 is chosen from young ladies ages 17 to 21. The attire is formal pageant wear, and the winner will also receive a $500 scholarship courtesy of Piggott State Bank.
Pageant organizers also plan to be at the revue stand from 2 to 4 Sunday afternoon for registration and practice, although it is optional.
Those wanting additional information may contact pageant director Sarah Graves at 870-634-7727.