MORLEY -- A "Weekend in Paradise" - that's the promise of the Morley Community Betterment Committee for those who attend the 29th Annual Fall Festival Sept. 7 and 8.
The two-day event will include games, lots of pageants, a parade and, of course, cheeseburgers in paradise.
Tammy Rollins, Morley city clerk and "like everyone I guess who lives here in Community Betterment," takes pride in how residents have worked together for the past 29 years on the Morley Fall Festival. Not only is the weekend fun, but also a chance to bring improvements to their community.
When this weekend is over, the proceeds from the event will go toward repairing Morley's park pavilion. Up to $1,500 of the amount residents raise during the weekend will be matched by the Modern Woodmen, doubling the money available.
"About three years ago we redid the basketball court. For the last two years the money went to the Morley Fire Department. We raised $6,000 and the rest came from a grant and loans for a weather siren that should be up by the end of the year," said Rollins. "Every year the money goes toward something."
During the two days, the town's population of approximately 800 will more than double as former residents and visitors arrive for the activities which begin at 5 p.m. Friday at the park.
Kicking off the festival will be the competition for Little Mister Morley Fall Festival. The contest for boys up to 11 months old begins at 6 p.m. followed at 6:20 p.m. with a contest for boys 12 to 35 months old with the competition for boys ages 3 to 5 years old beginning at 6:40 p.m.
The Little Miss, a contest for girls ages 6 to 8 years old, will be at 7 p.m. followed by the Young Miss pageant, for girls ages 9 to 11, set to begin at 7:30 p.m. The Junior Miss contest begins at 8 p.m. for girls ages 12 to 14.
Those young women, who attend Scott County Central and are between the ages of 15 to 18, will compete for the title of Miss Morley beginning at 8:30 p.m. The winner will be the community-sponsored contestant for the Sikeston Cotton Carnival queen title
For Friday's pageants as well as those on Saturday, there is a $10 entry free for all age divisions with a practice scheduled for Sept. 6. For more information on entering call the Morley City Hall at 262-2094.
On Saturday activities begin early with the lineup for the parade to start at 9 a.m. at the Old Morley School. The parade is at 10:30 a.m. departing from the school and going through downtown to the park.
"Anybody is welcomed to participate," said Rollins. "There are prizes for decorated floats and bicycles. We sure would like this to be the biggest parade ever."
A flag ceremony will follow the parade.
Two local companies, Wheelers and CPS, are planning softball games. These are set to begin at 10 a.m. at the park.
The festival grounds open at 11 a.m. with the Wee Miss contest for girls up to 11 months old beginning at 11:30 a.m. This will be followed by the selection of Tiny Tot Miss, for girls ages 1 to 2, at 12:30 p.m. and the Tiny Miss, selected from among girls ages 3 to 5 years old, at 1:15 p.m. Miss Fall Festival will be crowned in a contest beginning at 2 p.m. Saturday. The contest is open to any young woman between the age of 15 and 18.
At 3 p.m. Saturday, an auction and children's games are scheduled. The "Not-So-Newlywed" game, which features couples married at least 10 years, begins at 5 p.m. with a Kid's Talent Show set for 6 p.m.
The festival concludes with a street dance, starting at 8 p.m. Charlie's Sound System will provide the music for the event, which will conclude at 11 p.m.
The concession stands will be cooking up hamburgers, polish sausage and barbecue.
Olivia Lee, who has been a part of the festival since it began nearly 30 years ago, emphasized that it is not only a time for residents to gather to earn money for their community and an opportunity former residents to come home for a visit. This is a festival for all Southeast Missourians, she said.
"Sure, its a community effort and all the money we make stays in the community but this is small festival and its for everyone. Anybody who comes is welcome," she said. "The more the merrier!"