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Thursday, May 24, 2018, 3:28 a.m.

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Festival unites community, pokes fun at nuisance

By Angela Spencer

This article was published May 6, 2018 at 12:00 a.m.

local-merchant-eva-kyle-jones-came-up-with-the-idea-for-mosquitofest-more-than-30-years-ago-children-will-have-an-opportunity-to-attend-the-carnival-at-mosquitofest

Local merchant Eva Kyle Jones came up with the idea for Mosquitofest more than 30 years ago. Children will have an opportunity to attend the carnival at Mosquitofest.

— One of the major annoyances of spring and summer in Arkansas is the presence of mosquitoes. A night on the back porch or a walk through town in The Natural State can result in visits from these tiny blood-sucking fiends, leaving uncomfortable marks that can itch for days.

More than 30 years ago, a merchant in McCrory joked that instead of bemoaning the pests, the city should embrace them to promote local businesses. When Eva Kyle Jones suggested this tactic, Mosquitofest was born.

“It kind of started as a joke,” said Betty Kate Thompson, current McCrory Area Chamber of Commerce president. “The mosquitoes are so terrible.”

This year, Mosquitofest will take place May 17-19.

Mosquitofest started as a casual sidewalk sale, Thompson said. A few years in, organizers added a 5K, and the event has continued to grow since then.

“It just kept growing,” she said. “Today, we have a carnival that will move in on May 16 and sets up in downtown McCrory. We have food vendors and a parade.”

One highlight of Mosquitofest is featured in the parade on the morning of May 19. The community honors the Citizen of the Year — chosen by the chamber — who serves as grand marshal for the parade.

“We’ve always had the Citizen of the Year serve as grand marshal,” Thompson said. “This year, we have L.J. and Erleen Sawyer. This retired couple, who volunteer so much time, will be the grand marshals of the parade. It showcases someone who does so much in the community.”

Another highlight of the festival will take place May 18 with the McCrory Volunteer Fire Department.

“The Fire Department has a fish fry,” Thompson said. “That’s always a huge turnout. The Fire Department — which is a volunteer fire department — uses the fish fry as a fundraiser to be able to buy new gear and equipment.”

Entertainment will be provided throughout the festival on the main stage, which is sponsored by Ross Ford-Toyota. This will include a gospel concert, where attendees are encouraged to bring their lawn chairs and participate in the singing, Thompson said.

Because the festival focuses on supporting the community, Thompson said there will be a vendor fair May 19.

“Vendors from all over set up indoors and sell arts and crafts,” she said.

Vendors will include Sweets by Amanda, Puppy Treatz, DB Photography, face painting, essential oils and jewelry.

“It really is a community event,” Thompson said of Mosquitofest. “A lot of churches participate. One church usually has an old soda fountain set up where you can go and get treats. We want them to be able to use it as a venue to raise money for charities or their church.”

Mosquitofest will end with fireworks the night of May 19, and Thompson said that is one way the community welcomes the summer months.

“[Mosquitofest] pulls out a lot of people and provides the first entertainment of the summer,” she said.

More information about Mosquitofest — including updates and vendor information — can be found on Facebook at www.facebook.com/mosquitofestival.

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