Fall Fest lovers having fun, listening to music and having a barbecue


Crowds of people turned out for Thornton’s fourth annual Fall Fest celebration, held in conjunction with the third Hot Lips Bar-BQ contest on Saturday.

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

Twenty-one chefs showed up to pit their skills against each other in two categories, ribs and everything but ribs.

Forty-two barbecue cooks were initially expected. However, due to the loss of family members and health issues, a dozen of these candidates had to drop out at the last minute.

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

With plates submitted for judging in the category all but 1 p.m. ribs and 2 p.m. ribs, the 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.

Eighth place: Paul Doshier, Sheridan.

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

The entry fee for competitors was $150 for the ribs contest with an additional $25 for those who also wanted to participate in Anything But Ribs.

Prize money and trophies for the ribs included $1,000 for first place, $500 for second, $100 each for third and fourth place, and $50 for fifth and sixth.

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

While the judges and contestants were busy at St. Mark’s Fellowship Hall, two different groups entertained Fall Fest attendees directly across Highway 79 in the city park. Bands provided blues, rock, country and R&B music. Large crowds of listeners occupied lawn chairs and picnic tables in the shade of overhanging trees as local churches provided food and drink and young people shouted as they played in the bouncy house.

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

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

Tevin and Selma Thrower, Ethan and Wyatt Harris keep busy in the fall festival bounce house. (Special for The Commercial/Richard Ledbetter)
Photo Southern Roots singer Denise A. Carter performed a variety of musical numbers that earned her the reputation of “singing Aretha Franklin better than Aretha Franklin”, some say. (Special for The Commercial/Richard Ledbetter)
Photo The people of Thornton turned out for a day of relaxation, food and camaraderie. (Special for The Commercial/Richard Ledbetter)

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