Jackson Homecomers opening night bustling despite high temperatures

Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Ashley Medlock, 16, back, and Lindsey Porzelt, 16, enjoy one of the rides Tuesday at the 104th Jackson Homecomers. (ADAM VOGLER)

The annual Jackson Homecomers festival began its 104th celebration Tuesday night, and the festivities carried on despite the heat.

Opening-night events included a speech by Jackson Mayor Barbara Lohr, a performance by the Jackson Municipal Band, the Homecomers Queen Pageant and the Homecomers 1 Mile Youth Run and a 5K Race.

The heat was not a factor for Ken DeArman of Cape Girardeau, who attended with his wife, Brooke.

"It certainly didn't have any effect on my decision," Ken said. "Whether it was hot or not, I am sure a lot of people would have come regardless."

The couple both attended Southeast Missouri State University and are members of the Jackson Municipal Band. Ken DeArman plays trombone and Brooke DeArman plays trumpet. This was the first time either of them had attended the festival.

"It's just fun," Brooke said. "It gives everybody something to do that they don't usually have."

Hearing the Jackson Municipal Band perform is part of what brought Beth Emmendorfer of Jackson to the opening night of Homecomers. She said this is her 20th year attending the festival.

"It seems like there are not as many people so I was wondering if it was the heat," Emmendorfer said.

Emmendorfer attended the festival with her daughter, Kate, 9, and her nieces, Allie Ziegler, 15, and Anna Ziegler, 10. Kate said she likes riding the rides and watching the Homecomers Queen Pageant.

Beth Biri of Jackson said she has been attending the festival for about 25 years and began coming as a child. Getting ice cream and seeing people she hasn't seen in a while is what keeps her coming back. She didn't think the heat played a role in the festival's attendance Tuesday night.

"It is the first day so it is pretty hard to tell," Biri said. "It looks pretty full and I've seen thinner years."

This was the 15th year for the Homecomers 1 Mile Youth Run and a 5K Race at Jackson City Park. According to parks and recreation director Shane Anderson, the attendance at these events was down 25 percent. He said he thought this was due to the heat.

"I think it was more than I thought it would be, but it is lower than in years past," Anderson said.

Elainna Froemsdorf of Jackson also said she thought the heat affected attendance for the race.

Froemsdorf and a group of her co-workers took part in the 5K Tuesday night. She said they do it as team because they want to be healthy.

In addition to her participation in the race, Froemsdorf said she has always attended the festival because her grandmother, who lived to be 102, always attended.

"Homecomers is a Jackson tradition," Froemsdorf said.

Jackson Homecomers will continue through Saturday and begin at 6 p.m. each night. For a full list of events, visit www.jacksonhomecomers.com.

ajones@semissourian.com

388-3654

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