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Trumann Wild Duck Festival

The Trumann Wild Duck Festival is an annual festival held in Trumann (Poinsett County) on the last Saturday in September. It includes two days of music, food, arts-and-crafts vendors, softball games, beauty pageants, bingo, a car show, carnival rides, and a parade. A golf tournament is also held on the weekend prior to the festival.

The event has its roots in the annual Singer Barbeque that was held each fall for the employees of the Singer Company in Trumann beginning in 1948. Trumann at the time was almost a company town, so the picnic brought out most of the residents, as well as county and state dignitaries. The Singer Barbeque was the brainchild of local facility manager Alfred Carlson. More than 500 attended the first event, and later events were said to have garnered several thousand attendees. Cooking would begin two days ahead of the event in order to prepare enough meat to feed the crowd. Carlson eventually ordered the construction of a large barbeque pit for the event, measuring exactly ninety-nine feet in length. Carlson was reportedly very careful with the measurements, as he said that no one needed 100 feet of barbeque pit. He also ordered the construction of a bean oven to cook the hundreds of pounds of baked beans needed for the crowd.

The barbeque was held at the company’s Community House, a facility built to meet the social and recreational needs of the company’s employees. After the barbeque meal had been consumed, participants were treated to live music, games, and several levels of beauty pageants that featured the children of Singer employees. In the evening, after a fireworks display, a dance was held inside the Community House that would generally last until midnight.

The Singer Company closed its facility in Trumann in 1982, resulting in the loss of jobs for many Trumann families. The closing also saw the end of the annual barbeque that the townspeople had anticipated each year for over thirty years. The following year, as the community struggled to bring new industry to the city, the Trumann Chamber of Commerce and the Trumann Jaycees partnered to create a new event for the residents. Drawing on the region’s popularity as a duck hunter’s paradise, the Wild Duck Festival was born. Over the years, it has grown from a city-wide event to a well-known regional celebration that brings in many visitors. Now held at the Trumann Sports Complex, the Friday night and Saturday observances include a parade, various athletic activities, and a carnival, as well as food vendors and musical acts.

For additional information:
Moore, Georgia Lewis. Trumann That Was and Trumann That Is. N.p.: 1977.

Poinsett County Historical Society. Poinsett County, Arkansas: History and Families. Paducah, KY: Turner Publishing Company, 1998.

Cindy Grisham
Jonesboro, Arkansas

Related Butler Center Lesson Plans:
Arkansas Festivals of the Land (Grades 7-8)

Last Updated 3/5/2012

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