We Blingz Girlz are, and have always been, passionate about the community in which we live – Glenwood, Arkansas located on the banks of the Caddo River. From the time that we were young attending Glenwood High School, we were always actively involved in community events. We have often times reflected on what we learned from participating in parades, proms, county fairs, and all of the other activities that can only be experienced by those living in small towns and communities. Those lessons taught us so much more than just how to make an awesome float using chicken wire and paper napkins. They taught us life lessons. That if we thought we could do something, then we could do that very thing. They taught us to be creative in so many ways and that creativity is something that we use in our adult lives daily, whether it is designing a tee shirt for our sister company, Caddo Clothing Company, or decorating the store window at Merle Norman/Blingz Jeanz and Thingz or even, making a closing statement to a jury (as one Blingz Girl may be known to do). We are so blessed to have had those experiences that even our own children in our small community no longer get to experience.
Although we are all grown up now, we have continued to be involved in community events. Back in the early 2000s, we were faced with taking on the task of chairing the Annual Sawmill Days Festival. This was a festival that was held in the fall. We had absolutely no blue print to follow in putting on the event. But, we backed our ears, got a big, thick notebook out and started organizing it step by step. To our surprise, we were able to pull it off. In the early days of working on Sawmill Days, a fine gentleman said to us, “if you want something done, you find a busy person to do it.” And busy we were and have always been. But there is definitely a sense of achievement when all of the vendors pull in to the event along with the food trucks and then the people come. We continued to help the Glenwood Chamber of Commerce put on Sawmill Days for several years. After our local sawmill closed, it didn’t seem right to continue with Sawmill Days.
So a few years passed with no festival in Glenwood. In 2010, a fellow Chamber Member, Chuck Voan, approached us about starting the festival back up. We pondered on what we should call the festival since we no longer had a sawmill. As our area was increasingly becoming more tourism oriented, we decided to call it Caddo River Festival. The idea behind Caddo River Festival was that we would have it earlier in the year to kick off our area’s local tourism which focused on canoeing and fishing on the Caddo River. The first couple of years we had the festival in early June. Then it was moved to the last weekend in April.
Photo credits to Verlin Price of Price’s Photos.
Caddo River Festival is now in it’s Ninth Year. Wow, how time flies. This year’s Caddo River Festival is April 27 and 28. It is located at the intersection of Broadway and 2nd Street in Glenwood. The festival includes free entertainment: 7:00 p.m. Saturday April 28 – Hannah Blaylock (formerly of Eden’s Edge and a native of Russellville, Arkansas) and 4:00 p.m. Saturday April 28 – Newcomer and Season 15 American Idol Participant, Ethan “Lil Skinny” Kuntz and his band, The Roosters (a native of Murfreesboro, Arkansas). There is a 5K Run/Race that is sponsored by Centerpoint School District. The festival includes the 2nd Annual Max Whisenant Memorial Car Show. And no festival would be complete without festival food and crafts, so Caddo River Festival has that too. This year’s schedule also includes exhibitions from Shannon’s School of Dance, TNT Gymnastics, and the Centerpoint Choir. New to the festival will be Paula Erlene – a Yodeler and Dennis Fugitt – a Christian singer. We have brought back Dewayne Hodges who is a one man show who never disappoints in his performance.
One event that the Blingz Girlz can laugh about is the annual Caddo River Festival Parade. Everyone loves a parade, right? Well, since we started the parade, the weather has not cooperated. But a little rain never stopped the Blingz Girlz because as they say, “the show must go on.” So, the parade has at times been very short….but since we started having the parade, it has gone on, rain or shine. We are certainly praying for some good weather and warm sunshine this year and just know that it’s going to happen.
We really want the world to take notice of the Caddo River Festival Canoe Races. This event is sponsored by Caddo River Camping and Canoe Rentals. If you haven’t seen one of these races, you have missed out. SO MUCH FUN. And, NO, the races are not on the river. There are two canoes converted with wheels. See picture above of one of the canoes in the parade. The teams consist of seven persons to allow for substitutions. The canoes are pushed UP Broadway by four members and one rider. It is a double elimination race which means that team members can be physically exhausted and unable to turn right around to start another race. The Canoe Races have grown each year and we certainly hope to see so many more teams this year than last year. We also hope to get the canoe races showcased on a local television station sometime soon. We will be on KARK Channel 4 at 6:15 a.m. on April 25, so be sure to have your DVRs set to record us.
We, Blingz Girlz, are involved in many aspects of the Caddo River Festival production. We don’t do it for any glory. We truly do it because we love to and we love our community. Like mentioned above, there is such a sense of achievement when the festival comes together. And, when that happens, we can say we had a hand in giving back to our small town and that feels really good.
So, that’s just a little about us and why we are so passionate about our beloved Caddo River Festival. We hope if you are anywhere close to Glenwood, Arkansas, on April 27 and 28, that you will come out to the festival to enjoy the activities. After taking a break from being a vendor at the festival, we will be launching our Blingz Jeanz and Thingz Mobile Boutique at the festival this year. We’ve been working every day to make one of a kind tees just for this mobile boutique. We hope to see you all out and about the weekend of Caddo River Festival.