SIKESTON -- The 57th edition of the American Legion Cotton Carnival is just over a month away and preparations are currently being made for the event. This year's theme is "A Salute to Merchant Marines and Fire Departments."
This year, the Carnival is set to begin on Sept. 25 and run through Sept. 29. For the second year in a row it will be at the Sikeston Jaycee Bootheel Rodeo Grounds.
The event was moved there last year after several years at the River Birch Mall area. While there was some question to how the carnival would be received at the Rodeo Grounds, it turned out to be for the best. The Sikeston Department of Public Safety even reported fewer incidents last year than in previous years.
"It was wonderful last year," said Herb St. Mary of the Sikeston American Legion. "I don't think I heard one negative comment."
The move to the Rodeo Grounds gave the carnival more space than it had in previous years and allowed for things like an exotic tent with animals and bigger more quality rides for the children. While there are no major changes in line, the American Legion is hoping for more rides.
"Hopefully we are going to get more adult rides this year," St. Mary said.
Also coming to the Carnival this year is a puppeteer known as Uncle Cratchett who will cater to children and talk about safety. "He will be at the Carnival every night and should be a real good draw," St. Mary said.
One of the most popular nights of the Carnival is bracelet night, which will once again be on Tuesday. This year, however, the price of bracelets will be increased to $15. "That is because of the high cost of fuel and such," St. Mary said.
One thing that will not change is the crowning of Cotton Carnival royalty. On Wednesday night, beginning at 7:30 p.m., the Little Mr. and Miss Cotton Carnival will be crowned. On Thursday the Junior Miss pageant will be held and following the football game Friday night the Miss Sikeston contest will take place. On Saturday, Miss Cotton Carnival will be crowned.
One big change this year will be the parade route. Instead of beginning at the Sikeston High School and going to the River Birch Mall, the route will be reversed, beginning at the River Birch Mall and going to Pine Street.
While small changes have been made, American Legion officials noted the goal of the Carnival is still the same: to provide Sikeston area residents good, quality, family entertainment.