A Face in the Crowd, Band Anniversary Celebrated

Thursday, September 15, 2016
The four PHS majorettes who took part in the filming of the movie gathered for a group photo Friday evening prior to the football game at Parker Field. They were also introducted, and recognized, at halftime of the Mohawk game with Portageville. Pictured are, Amanda (Robinson) Lane in front. Back, from left: Connie (Cole) Kegley, Suzanne (Ballard) Stewart and Linda (Roeder) Rountree.(TD photo/Tim Blair)

A special two-day celebration was held this past weekend in Piggott, to mark the 60th anniversary of the filming of A Face in the Crowd and the 70th of the formation of the PHS band. The observances were hosted by the Piggott Heritage Group, and the Piggott High School Mohawk Band, and served as a fundraiser for the band. Proceeds will benefit the band program at PHS, and will be used to help purchase new instruments and support the members during trips to competitions.

Four of the majorettes who appeared in the movie, and a member of the first PHS band, were on hand for a special ceremony held at halftime of the Mohawk's home game. Those recognized included Linda (Roeder) Rountree, Connie (Cole) Kegley, Suzanne (Ballard) Stewart and Amanda (Robinson) Lane. Also on hand was band member Charles Stewart.

They were introduced, and recognized, during halftime of the Mohawk game with Portageville. During intermission, the band also performed special music and the twirling compeitition from the movie was re-enacted.

Event organizer Joe Cole (right) works as a ringman for auctioneer Michael Hollis, as an original lobby poster of the movie is sold to the highest bidder at Saturday night's banquet.(TD photo/Tim Blair)

Several events were held Saturday, although the threat of showers did hamper the effort. The artwork of the 1916 Troop Train was dedicated at the Piggott depot, and artwork depicting the swimming pool scene was dedicated at the Matilda and Karl Pfeiffer Museum. The museum staff also located the table which Andy Griffith and Patricia Neal used during the filming of the swimming pool scene, and had it on display for those visiting.

The band also manned tables at each location, selling commemorative postcards, t-shirts and tickets to the Saturday night banquet.

A driving tour of filming sites was also developed, with special signs marking the various locations. Tour guide brochure were made available which included each location and a brief description. Blue signs with the A Face in the Crowd logo marked the sites.

The banquet was held Saturday evening at the Piggott Community Center, with over 200 in attendance. During the dinner the Swingin' Mohawk Jazz Band performed, followed by a live auction of donated items related to the movie. There was also a silent auction, with local businesses and individuals providing the items, and a drawing was held for a number of door prizes. The movie was also screened in one of the back rooms of the community center.

During the gathering organizer Joe Cole also addressed the crowd about a subject dear to his heart, Piggott history.

"It may not be political correct, but I feel Piggott just has so much more going for it than other cities," he offered. "I want these young people to know what a special place they call home, and how many great people came from here."

He went on to review a number of standout local residents, which included major league baseball players, war heroes and others of great distinction. Cole also previewed another upcoming date of note, as July of 2017 will bring the anniversary of "Les Biffle Day" in Piggott.

Cole also introduced those on hand who had roles in the movie, and offered background information on the filming in Piggott in 1956.

The event was held as a fundraiser for the Piggott band program, which was first formed in the 1946-47 school year.

Jim Richardson, a trustee of Matilda and Karl Pfeiffer Museum, was one of the original members.

"I played tenor saxaphone in the first band," he noted. "But, I wasn't around for the filming of the movie, I was serving in Korea at the time."

The current band program boasts just over 125 students in grades seven through 12. This year the band, which is under the direction of Jeremy Wortham, also has two beginning band classes in seventh grade, a concert band class for grades eight through 11 and a wind ensemble class for grades nine through 12.

The Marching Mohawk band has 62 students who'll be participating this fall in marching competition. This season the Mohawks will transport the crowd into the life of a pirate, as they present "A Pirates Revenge."

The marching band will be performing at all of the home football games this year, along with the away games at both Rivercrest and Walnut Ridge. They also have a full slate of marching competitions lined-up, including--the U.S. Bands Arlington, Tenn., Invitational on Sept. 24; Gibson County Marching Invitational in Dyer, Tenn., on Oct. 1; Paragould/McDonalds Marching Invitational on Oct. 8; Forrest City Marching Invitational on Oct. 15; Region V Marching Assessment at Paragould High School on Oct. 18; Bandmasters Marching Contest, Liberty Stadium in Memphis, on Oct. 22; Choctaw Classic, at Dyer County High School, Newborn, Tenn., on Oct. 29 and the First Annual Arkansas State Marching Contest in Little Rock, hosted by North Little Rock High School, on Nov. 1.

The Swingin' Mohawk Jazz Band will also be performing several times during the year, and the War Party Pep Band will be performing at many volleyball games, pep rallies and basketball games. The concert bands also have several performances scheduled throughout the year.

The funds generated by the event will help defray travel costs for the band, and allow them to purchase and maintain instruments. Those wanting to stay up to date on the activities of the Mohawk band may visit their facebook page at www.facebook.com/piggottmohawkband

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