Small Town Festival, Big Turnout

WEINER, Ark. (KAIT) – Hundreds of people were at Weiner on Saturday, celebrating the 46th annual Arkansas Rice Festival.

Weiner is a town of less than 1,000 people, but each year the small farming community unites to host the Arkansas Rice Festival, continuing a long-standing tradition.

For Weiner Mayor Mike Frasier this festival means a lot, as a Weiner native he has seen how much the festival has grown since he was a child.

“It was strictly rice and it was all about rice, and we slowly expanded to include car shows and kitchens,” Frasier said.

The town may be small, but locals take pride in the festival and love to see the attention it receives.

“The festival creates a sense of pride that this city was built on,” Frasier said.

With all the extra foot traffic in the small farming community, the town gets more tax revenue from all the vendors.

“Economically, well economically, it’s fantastic,” Fraiser said. “We don’t have a lot of additional tax revenue, but through our suppliers and their sales.”

In addition to free rice and music, another tradition of the Rice Festival is the sausage dog races.

Little sausage dogs are brought in from all over the area, this year a total of 16 dogs competed in the lookalike contest and the annual dog races.

“Weenie dog racing, if you’ve never seen it, it’s a pretty cool thing to watch. It’s really neat,” said Jeremy Kimble, president of the Rice Festival.

Kimble has been the festival’s president for a few years, but he’s been coming to the festival for decades.

Kimble said he remembers how excited he was as a kid to go to the festival and watch dog races and eat food.

“We used to fight rice and I always wanted to bring that back; I think that would be cool,” Kimble said.

Like most festivals, the city took a year off due to the Coronavirus virus pandemic, but Weiner picked up where she left off last year.

“Last year wasn’t as strong as we would have liked, but this year is making up for it considerably,” Frasier said.

The festival grows every year, and Frasier said he expects at least 5,000 people to attend the festival.

The festival takes place on the second weekend of October each year around the harvest season, so some events would not be possible without the hard work of farmers.

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