BENTON — James Posey Jr. of Benton was known as “the Candy Man” for the city of Benton.
“He bought a lot of candy,” said Joyce Robinson, director for the annual Spook City event. “When the Dollar General was here in downtown, he would fill a shopping cart and make sure all the kids got enough.
“He really loved Halloween. His presence will be missed this year.”
Posey died Jan. 14 of this year. He was the owner of Posey’s Garage and Auto Repair in downtown Benton, and his wife, Wanda, served as co-director for Spook City, alongside Robinson.
“He did an awful lot for the city of Benton, but he really loved Halloween,” Robinson said. “He would go to the store and buy candy till there was none left.
“He was a fixture around here, for sure.”
The 14th annual Spook City, presented by the Downtown Benton Business Owners Association, is set to begin at 5 p.m. Saturday in downtown Benton. Robinson said the event was created to give back to the community.
“It started as a ‘thank you’ to the community for shopping with us and believing in downtown Benton,” Robinson said.
Robinson said Wanda Posey has stepped down as co-director of the event but still assists in some ways. Robinson said David Bishop, the owner of Relics Tattoo in Benton, and Jennifer Donnor, the owner of The Oil Shop in Benton, as well as other volunteers from the newly formed women’s Kiwanis Club, have contributed to the organization of the event.
Admission to the event is free, but $5 wristbands are available for purchase in advance at Regions Bank in downtown Benton, Paradise Pets or The Oil Shop. The wristbands allow one ride on the train, the pirate ship, tubs of fun, the mini Ferris wheel and Joey the Friendly Firetruck. The wristbands also include unlimited turns on the inflatables.
“Benton Parks and Recreation is doing a costume contest this year, and there will be pumpkin painting in the new farmers market,” Robinson said. “There will be a lot of new candy vendors who will be giving out candy, and we will have our normal food trucks.
“This year, we will also have Cotton Candy to Go, which serves 15 flavors of cotton candy.”
She said there will also be pony rides and a climbing wall again this year, but the attractions will cost $5 each.
“We are pretty much out of room for new rides,” Robinson said. “There will be a lot of characters there, including the Arkansas Travelers mascot, stormtroopers and Smarty the Fox from Recycle Saline.
“A few others might show up as well.”
She said Marcus Loobey of Benton, who has shown up wearing stilts in years past as Jack Skellington and a scarecrow, will return this year.
Rob Cox, the youth minister at Sharon Missionary Baptist Church in Benton, said the church will provide the barrel train again this year. He said anytime he can get out and provide a service to the community, he will gladly do so.
“It provides an opportunity to have a gospel conversation with the kids in the community,” he said. “The kids get to ride the train, and we get to meet the parents, talk to them and invite them to our church.
“We view it as an outreach. It is also a chance to invite people to our fall festival, which is a real big event that we do. Most importantly, it is just a chance to share Jesus in any way we can.”
Roger Bramel provides one of the other trains for Spook City, and he said he started doing it full time in 2017. He said it gives him something to do and more of a purpose.
“I started doing Spook City about three years ago, and it is a lot of fun,” he said. “We like going over there. We run the train from the start of the event to the end, and we probably haul thousands of people.”
He said he does other events around Benton and Bryant as well.
“Spook City has more of a variety of kids and adults,” Bramel said. “And it’s close to me, so I don’t have to drive a long distance.”
For more information, visit the event’s Facebook page at facebook.com/spookcitybentonar.
Staff writer Sam Pierce can be reached at (501) 244-4314 or email@example.com.