Parade marks official kickoff to SEMO Fair

Tuesday, September 11, 2001

An hour after Sgt. Reggie Walker drove a 1959 Dodge Missouri Highway Patrol car out of Capaha Park onto Broadway to start the SEMO District Fair Parade Monday afternoon, Jim and Kay Sides and four granddaughters sat far behind in their horse-drawn carriage by Capaha Field still waiting to move.

For sanitation reasons, carriages and riders on horseback are last in line in the SEMO District Fair Parade. The marching bands, majorettes and others on foot benefit from their patience.

The parade is the annual kickoff to the fair, which continues through Saturday at Arena Park.

Children scrambled for candy tossed from the parade while their elders sat on the stone wall across from the park waiting to see their grandchildren go by. Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and Cub Scouts in the back of trucks and a whole flatbed tractor-trailer laden with Brownies rode in the parade.

They were joined on the route by politicians, Shriners, Teen Challenge students, preschoolers and Christian school students, Soap Box Derby winners and an Army Reserve Humvee driven by Sgt. 1st Class James Roche.

'Best for last'

Fifteen students from the Little Rascals preschool had a long wait to start but were patient as well. "They saved the best for last," boasted Hannah Knott.

High school bands from Jackson, Cape Central, Oran, Greenville, Scott County Central, Meadow Heights and Oak Ridge marched down Broadway toward Arena Park in bright sunshine mostly to rock 'n' roll tunes like "Louie, Louie" and "Gimme Some Lovin'."

The parade gleamed with beauty queens of many different ages, including Miss Missouri Outdoors Kara Kyle and Dexter, Mo.'s Hayley White, Miss SEMO District Fair. White, a freshman at Southeast Missouri State University majoring in education, has won other titles, so she knew her parade responsibilities well.

"I just try and not let my arm fall off," she said.

Not just for the young

The parade was not just for the young. Aboard a replica of a 1903 horseless carriage, Walt Diebold on keyboard and Jerome Scherer on fiddle played "You Are My Sunshine," "Let Me Call You Sweetheart" and other old favorites.

Leon Baker and family rode down Broadway on the six Cushman scooters dating from the 1950s he has rebuilt.

Farm machinery in the parade ranged from a 1930 John Deere GP Wide Tread to a gargantuan $200,000, 425 HP John Deere Track Tractor.

Sides bought the carriage and the horse, Brute, from an Amish family. Brute's previous job was delivering bread, milk and eggs, and he has a talent that shouldn't have been needed in the parade down Broadway.

"He stops at stop signs," Kay Sides said.

sblackwell@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 182

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