(Photo by Tim Jaynes, Staff)
And they got what they wanted. The Cotton Pickin' Heritage Festival is scheduled for Saturday in American Legion Park, rain or shine.
"We basically just took the same idea and gave it a different twist," said Mandy Pratt, executive director of the Historic Midtown Development Group, which is coordinating the event.
"More food and more music were two of the big suggestions," she continued. "And we've got it."
There will be two entertainment sets in the afternoon. Beginning at 1 p.m., the Bluegrass Revival Band will make its comeback. "They were here for Sikeston in Bloom and were very popular," Pratt said. Then beginning at 3 p.m., Steve Clinton will perform.
Another suggestion was to add contests -- which happened.
One is the homemade pie contest. The winner will get more than bragging rights, Pratt said. Susie Kenedy, owner of Susie's Bake Shoppe and also the head of HMDG's promotions committee, is sponsoring the event.
"She will take the recipe, name it after the person who wins and put it on her menu," Pratt said.
At 3 p.m., people will line up with their pets for an owner-pet look-alike contest, sponsored by the Humane Society.
This is the first time they've done such a contest, said Lanette Baker, director. "We just thought it was something different -- we've seen different groups do them before."
The Humane Society will also have a cakewalk in the afternoon, due to the reaction of the one it sponsored at Sikeston in Bloom.
"Everybody loved it -- they all had a blast," Baker said. The group is also asking for nonperishable donations to be used, which can be dropped off at the shelter on Friday or at the beginning of Saturday's festival.
There will be a variety of other foods for sale, including jambalaya, barbecue, funnel cakes, cotton candy, hot dogs and more, Pratt said. With the parade ending in the area around lunchtime, she anticipates a big crowd, especially in the early afternoon.
There will also be storytelling and craft activities, sponsored by the Sikeston Public Library. There will be three different 30-minute sessions, said Ann Thompson, children's librarian.
"Storytelling is just a wonderful way to enhance the feel of the environment, especially with the harvest," Thompson said. "It just adds to the ambience."
The first program, at noon, will feature Nanette Morris. "She does actual storytelling," Thompson said. "She doesn't just read from the book."
Then at 2 and 4 p.m., Thompson will lead the sessions. The 2 p.m. session will center around the story of the little red house, and during the second, she will read "The Full Belly Bowl."
Throughout the day, festival-goers can check out a display featuring books about the fall harvest, as well as information about what comes from a bale of cotton. There will be a craft children can stop by to make -- a pin with the burlap about the Cotton Festival, Thompson said.
At the Depot across the street, people can check out winners of the photography contest. Submissions, which are due by 4 p.m. today, will feature cotton or other agriculture themes.
Another big draw is the "Come Find Yourself" Baugher Photography Exhibit, which has expanded since its debut at the Depot last fall.
"It is probably the single most popular event we've ever had at the Depot," said Director Mike Marsh. "We have the same pictures from last year, plus hundreds and hundreds of new ones."
In one of the permanent displays, people can learn about cotton and look at a bale and a cotton sack, as well as the history of cotton as relevant to Missouri and the processes cotton goes through. Small bales are also available for purchase, Marsh pointed out.
The entire group anticipates a large crowd, Pratt said. It's no coincidence that it's the same weekend as the Cotton Carnival, and she said the group is appreciative that the American Legion, which sponsors the carnival, gave the OK for the downtown event.
For some, it will resemble a return to the days that the Cotton Carnival was downtown.
"It's kind of picking up where the old festival left off," she said. "A lot of people talk about how they'd like to see the Cotton Carnival come back downtown. That's probably not going to happen, but this will give people something fun to do downtown while the Cotton Carnival festivities are going on."