BENTON -- The 36th Annual Neighbor Day Festival is scheduled for Sept. 3-4 at the Benton ballpark.
One of the largest local festivals in Southeast Missouri, the Benton Neighbor Days revolves around the them of "Hi, neighbor." A mystery neighbor walks the grounds and when he or she hears that greeting rewards the identifier with a small cash prize.
Fun begins with the midway opening at 5 p.m. Friday. Pageants for Tiny Mr. and Miss, Little Mr. and Miss, Junior Miss and Miss Neighbor Day pageants begin at 6:30 p.m. Friday at the stage.
H&H Amusements are back this year with carnival rides both days. The Benton Chamber of Commerce Booth draws for hundreds of dollars of free attendance prizes throughout the two-day festival.
The former Benton High School building houses 4-H, FFA, home extension and agriculture exhibits. Registration for exhibits is open to the public from 5-7 p.m. Friday and 8-9 a.m. Saturday. Categories include needlework, fine arts, ceramics, models, photography, woodworking, crafts, floriculture, food preservation and preparation, fruits and vegetables and field crops. Winning entries earn ribbons, cash and prizes.
Neighbor Days are a communitywide endeavor with churches, clubs, schools and individuals working together. Proceeds are used to finance a scholarship and to contribute to many community improvement projects.
Kicking events off Saturday is the parade at 10:30 a.m. featuring pageant winners, bands and floats. An antique car show is set for 11:30 a.m. and an antique tractor show begins at noon, both on the former school grounds.
A horseshoe tournament is set for 1 p.m., also the starting time for a variety of races and contests like wheelbarrow races, egg throwing, turtle racing, nail driving, pie eating and watermelon seed spitting.
A kiddie tractor pull begins at 4 p.m. Saturday. A greased pole climb starts at 6 p.m. A talent show with junior and senior divisions starts at 6:30 p.m. The greased pig chase begins at 10 p.m.
New entertainment on Saturday from 9 p.m. to midnight is J.R. Bollinger and the High Yield Band. Bollinger, a Benton native and 1999 graduate of Kelly High School, formed the Nashville, Tenn.,-based band. The same time Friday evening hosts Nite Shift.