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Park Avenue gears up for Summerfest

by Elisha Morrison | April 25, 2016 at 4:00 a.m.

Park Avenue residents and merchants are gearing up for the third Summerfest Uptown Park Avenue.

Instead of holding a festival each month like the past two years, this year Summerfest will feature three events, in May, July and October, in the parking lot of Tower of Strength Ministries, 315 Park Ave.

Hannah Mills, chairwoman of the Summerfest Uptown committee and owner the Hot Springy Dingy, said they pared down the number of events so that people would appreciate the festivities without thinking the festivals were overdone. She said three seemed like the "magic number."

Mills said they originally started holding the festivals to combat the bad reputation Park Avenue has had in the past. Over the last 20 years, residents and merchants have worked to clean up the area to revitalize the avenue's "glory days," according to Mills. It is now a safe, clean place to live and work, she said, with an eclectic mix of shops and what Mills said are some of the best restaurants in the city of Hot Springs.

"Park Avenue is a wonderful place to be," Mills said.

The mission statement for the committee is to "create a fun, family event that will showcase Historic Park Avenue uptown as the beautiful, safe neighborhood it is to walk, bike, shop, dine and live."

The committee includes representatives of businesses, residents and entertainment venues on Park Avenue, along with the Park Avenue Community Association. In addition to Mills, members include David Mills, Kelly Thomason, treasurer, Wayne Thomason, Janice Jones, with PACA, Victoria Meyers, Angie Ezekiel, president of PACA, Zeke Ezekiel and Louis Williams.

The first event in the Summerfest lineup will be the Homegrown Music and Poetry with Dessert Contest from noon to 4 p.m. May 7. The music and poetry contest will feature original compositions by artists who are current or former Arkansas residents. All compositions must be family friendly.

"It is what you have to offer that you feel is the best you got," Hannah Mills said, referring to the compositions.

The poetry and music will be judged by a panel made up of Bud Kenny, Michael Dampier and John Zubrow. First place for both contests will be $100 cash prize. Second place will be a trophy, and third place will be a certificate.

The dessert contest will have an overall winner and a People's Choice winner. People's Choice will allow visitors to vote by placing money in the jar for the dessert they like best. The jar with the most money wins. Each team gets to keep their own jar, plus the winner will receive a trophy.

Contestants for the dessert competition can arrive as early as 8 a.m. to work on their creations, but must be at their stations no later than 11 a.m. Desserts can be made at home or on site. The festival will provide a space for competitors and an electrical hookup. Contestants must provide their own tables and setup. Dessert ingredients must be listed to avoid allergic reactions.

The deadline to register for all three contests is May 6. Entry forms can be found at

There will also be free hot dogs while they last, courtesy of Arvest Bank.

The second event will be Battle of the Bands with BBQ and Salsa from noon to 4 p.m. July 9. The Battle of the Bands will be all genres, but music must be family friendly. Three judges representing different music genres will pick the winner. If there is time after the contest, bands will be able to get together for a jam session.

The barbecue and salsa contests will have People's Choice awards similar to the dessert contest. Categories for the salsa contest are hot, mild and most unusual. Barbecue awards will include most unusual and best overall. There will also be a Tasty Chef contest for barbecue and salsa open to restaurants only.

The final Summerfest event for the year will be the Chili and Cornbread with a Hoedown festival Oct. 1 from noon to 4 p.m. The Hoedown will be a traditional bluegrass hoedown and not a contest, according to Mills. People or bands can come and play whatever instrument they want. If there is time after all the individuals and bands have performed, the musicians will get the chance to play in a jam session.

The cornbread and chili contest will be similar to the other food contests. Ingredients for cornbread must be listed.

"October is a perfect time for chili, and what is chili without cornbread?" Mills said.

All three festivals are free, but a donation is suggested for the BBQ. All the festivals are planned to be family friendly and include vendors, food, children's activities and face painting. Visitors will need to bring their own lawn chairs.

"We want to encourage people to come to Park Avenue and enjoy not just Summerfest, but all of Park Avenue," Mills said. "It is well worth people's time to come and give us a look."

Local on 04/25/2016

Print Headline: Park Avenue gears up for Summerfest


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