Plenty of events set for this year's Homecomers

Friday, July 23, 2010 ~ Updated 10:08 PM
The crowd waits as the next talent show act sets up Thursday, July 23, 2009, at Homecomers in downtown Jackson. (KIT DOYLE)

During Jackson Homecomers, the lights and sounds of carnival rides fill uptown Jackson. People spread blankets and chairs and settle in each evening for the entertainment.

The 102nd annual Jackson Homecomers will open with a welcome from Mayor Barbara Lohr at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. The Jackson Municipal Band will play to start the evening's entertainment and be followed by the 2010 Miss Homecomers Queen Pageant.

This year, sign-ups for the talent show and pageant are at a record low, according to Linda Penzel, director of Jackson Homecomers. In 2009, the contest had six girls enter. No one has signed up this year.

"I think what it is, is the kids nowadays, they work, they go to camp, they travel, and they're just too busy," Penzel said. "They just don't have time anymore."

If organizers don't receive at least four contestants for the pageant, Penzel said it won't be a part of Homecomers this year. Penzel said she has a few bands she can plug in if the pageant is canceled.

"There's always people wanting to perform," she said.

The Senior Idol competition and the gospel sing have grown in popularity since their addition to the festivities about four years ago. Churches from the area send part of their choirs or contemporary groups to perform for the gospel sing, which will be from 8 to 10 p.m. Wednesday.

Seniors 55 or older compete in the Senior Idol competition from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday. Like the talent show, prizes are awarded, including a People's Choice Award.

The talent show, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Thursday, is split into two age groups, 6 to 12 and 13 to 21.

"There are several bands participating in the talent show," Penzel said. "There are quite a few dancers, and a couple of [vocal] soloists, too. So far I have 21 entries, which is down [from last year], but I can do a show with that. There's been years that I've had as many as 80 to 85 entries."

Penzel said the talent show has been a staple of Homecomers for generations.

"People really enjoy seeing the kids perform, and seeing them year after year moving on," she said.

The top acts from Thursday's talent show move on to the finals July 30. The overall winner from the 13-to-21 group receives an invitation from the Mid-South Fair in Southhaven, Miss., just outside Memphis, Tenn., to compete in the youth talent contest. There will be a Mid-South representative who will be at Homecomers on finals night may invite others to participate as well.

Today is the last day for people to sign up for the pageant or talent shows. Information is available at www.jacksonhomecomers.com or by calling Penzel at 979-1112.

A group from Athletes Plus, a cheerleading training center that started in Jackson and has recently relocated to Cape Girardeau, will perform between the talent show and the Cabin Fever Band's show.

The carnival rides, which start at 6 p.m. daily, have always been a great attraction for Homecomers, Penzel said. She said United Expositions has promised to bring more and new rides this year.

"That's why we are a week later this year," she said. "They said that if we could do it a week later, they could do a little bit more for us."

Thursday will be armband might.

Other events include Saturday's concert featuring the Heartland Pops Chorus along with Abbey Road and Replica. This first half of the evening is from 6 to 8 p.m. From 8 to 10 p.m., Mary Bauer, last year's talent show winner, and Cape Girardeau Central High School graduate Quitman McBride III will perform.

The American Legion will sponsor an attendance drawing every night at 10 p.m.

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