75th Annual Rector Labor Day Picnic Held

Thursday, September 8, 2016
Chelsey Scott, the daughter of Jennifer Wilson and Joseph Scott, was crowned Miss Rector on Monday night at the annual Labor Day Picnic. She is a college junior. Other members of the court are, from left: fourth alternate Dominique Coln, a high school senior and the daughter of Jami and Bret Palmer; second alternate Sarah Robinson, a high school sophomore and the daughter of Nate and Heidi Henderson and the late Josh Robinson; first alternate Sawyer Ladonna Hendrix, a high school sophomore and the daughter of David and Cobi Hendrix, and third alternate Amy DeMent, a college junior and the daughter of Stephen and Sandra DeMent. (TD photo/Ron Kemp)

A smaller carnival did not mean a smaller crowd at the 75th annual Rector Labor Day Picnic, according to preliminary reports. While the amusement midway included fewer rides than in past years, the parade involved more participants and visitors.

"We had a banner crowd first thing Monday," said event organizer Nate Henderson. "The weather cooperated--we had a nice breeze. I don't have any numbers for sales yet, but the number of people was up."

Henderson said the Woodland Heights Cemetery Board, responsible for inking a contract with a carnival company each year, had to settle on a smaller company this year after an exhaustive search for midway entertainment.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (center) listens to local residents Monday while visiting the 75th annual Rector Labor Day Picnic.(TD photo/Jeremy Hall)

He said this year's carnival company was signed to participate in this year's picnic in late winter of this year. "The cemetery board had some trouble finding a carnival this year," he said. "It wasn't the size carnival we've had at the Labor Day Picnic, but we made the most of what we had."

Henderson said the board will work immediately to start the search for a carnival to attend next year's picnic.

"They're going to work diligently," he said. "Everybody has their festivals. We're definitely going to reach out as early as we can."

The picnic began under autumn-like weather with the golf tournament, rodeo and oldies contest on Friday.

"Those were great," Henderson said. "We had great turnouts for all of those."

Same for the ice cream social and music on Saturday, he added.

Sunday, the barbecue stands opened amid pageants that Henderson said was a popular destination for picnicgoers. "We had big numbers for the pageants," he said, "more than we usually have in them. That was great."

Then the parade further astonished event organizers.

"Since I've been in Rector this is the biggest parade we've ever had," Henderson said. "The parade was booming."

The float created by First Baptist Church was named the top entry in this year's parade, with Smith's Chapel Church selected as having the second-best float and Roadkill Barbecue operating the third-best float, according to judges.

Political Speakers

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson stumped this year's changes in work requirements for those receiving food stamps during a speech Monday at the 75th annual Rector Picnic.

Hutchinson described a man in the southern part of the state who went to a local aid office and was told he had to work, be trained to work or volunteer in order to receive benefits.

"All of a sudden this gentleman's face just dropped," the governor told a crowd at the park grandstand. "He went away with his head down."

The man was given instruction on how to volunteer despite his belief he was "not trainable" for work. When he returned, he surprised office workers with his work slip.

"His head was high--he had a smile on his face," Hutchinson said. "He turned in his slip of paper and showed that he had worked 95 hours last month. And the lady said, 'you didn't need to work 95 hours, 20 is good enough.' And he said, 'I enjoyed it.'

"Pride and dignity and work; people in Arkansas want to work," the governor continued. "That's why right now we have a 3.9 percent statewide unemployment rate. We have more people working in the state of Arkansas than in any time in history. We are working and we want to work in this state."

Hutchinson also discussed the travel he has taken recently, including trips to Cuba and China.

The governor said he helped secure a deal that sends 4,500 tons of Arkansas poultry to Cuba. He added that he has been involved in discussion to attract Chinese investment in Arkansas commodities.

"I want to open it up to rice," he said. "A governor can make a difference. So don't fuss at me because I'm taking these trips. I am promoting Arkansas. We've got a lot of momentum in Arkansas."

Hutchinson was part of a group of local, state and federal leaders either representing, or running to represent, voters during this presidential-election campaign season.

Among them were outgoing Clay County judge Gary Howell, who thanked residents for his two decades in office.

"It's been fun 99.9 percent of the time working with you folks the last 20 years," he said. "If you need me, holler and I'll be glad to help however I can."

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