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Fall Fest goers enjoy fun, music, barbecue

by Richard Ledbetter Special to The Commercial | September 21, 2022 at 3:17 a.m.
Rib runner Beverly Ellis delivers a plate of competition ribs to table captain Sandy Truman. (Special to The Commercial/Richard Ledbetter)

A crowd of people turned out for Thornton's fourth annual Fall Fest celebration held in conjunction with the third Hot Lips Bar-B-Q contest on Saturday.

From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., a good number of current and former Thornton citizens as well as numerous out of town visitors gathered in the fellowship hall of Greater St. Mark AME Church, Thornton Community Building and Roy Yarbrough City Park to take in a variety of events featuring food and live music.

Twenty-one chefs showed up to pit their skills against one another in two categories, ribs and anything but ribs.

Forty-two barbecue cooks were initially expected. However, due to the loss of family members and health concerns, a dozen of those contestants were required to drop out at the last minute.

Seven experienced judges from around the state viewed and tasted barbecue offerings for quality, appearance, texture/tenderness and taste.

With plates submitted for judging in the anything but ribs category by 1 p.m. and ribs by 2 p.m., winners were as follows:


First place: Scott Law, El Dorado.

Second place: Gary Funderburg, Camden.

Third place: Billy Ashcraft, Jefferson.


First place: Chad Trimble, Sherwood.

Second place: Billy Ashcraft, Jefferson.

Third place: Terrell Newton, Thornton.

Fourth place: Brandon Lee, El Dorado.

Fifth place: Tim Massenelli, Hot Springs.

Sixth place: Chris Austin, Hot Springs.

Seventh place: Lane Parkinson, Stamps.

Eigth place: Paul Doshier, Sheridan.

Ninth place: Tony Lord and Chris Disterdick, both of North Little Rock.

The entry fee for contestants was $150 for the rib competition with an additional $25 for those wishing to enter Anything But Ribs as well.

Cash prizes and trophies for ribs included $1,000 for first place, $500 for second, $100 each for third and fourth places and $50 for fifth and sixth.

In the anything but ribs category, prizes were $250 for first, $150 for second and $100 for third.

While judges and contestants were occupied at St. Mark's fellowship hall, two different bands kept Fall Fest attendees entertained directly across Highway 79 in the City Park. The groups provided blues, rock, country and R&B music. A large crowd of listeners occupied lawn chairs and picnic tables beneath the shade of overhanging trees while local churches provided food and drinks and youngsters squealed while playing in the bounce house.

William Young and Friends from Fordyce played from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. while Southern Roots took the stage from 1-4 p.m. Southern Roots is a seven piece band hailing from Herald, Hampton and Monticello.

Their lead singer, Denise A. Carter, sang Aretha Franklin tunes.

  photo  Tevin and Selma Thrower, Ethan and Wyatt Harris occupy themselves in the fall fest bounce house. (Special to The Commercial/Richard Ledbetter)
  photo  Southern Roots singer Denise A. Carter performed a variety of musical numbers that led to her reputation for 'singing Aretha Franklin better than Aretha Franklin,' some say. (Special to The Commercial/Richard Ledbetter)
  photo  Thornton folks turned out for a day of relaxation, food, and fellowship. (Special to The Commercial/Richard Ledbetter)

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