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Hodges festival returns Oct. 8

Hodges is getting in the spirit of things Saturday. Oct. 8 marks the return of the town’s Spirit of Hodges Festival.

The festival is coordinated by Hodges Fire and Rescue as a fundraiser. The day’s activities will include everyone’s festival favorites, like a car and tractor show, train ride, inflatables, food vendors, live music, trail ride, horseshoe contest, door prizes – and new this year, a fire engine ride for children.

“We’ll do about a three-mile loop and let them ride the fire engine,” said Ron Coats, one of the festival coordinators.

Coats said he think people primarily enjoy the festival for a chance to see and visit with old friends.

“You see a lot of people gathered up in groups of two or three, visiting with people they haven’t seen in a year or a few months,” Coats said. “Back when I was growing up, we went and visited people, and people came to the house and visited. People don’t do that anymore.”

While the opportunity for fellowship is a strong draw, live music is also central to the Hodges festival. Musical entertainment will kick-off at the festival’s opening at 9 a.m. with vocal students from Love to Sing Studio in Russellville and continue throughout the day. One band, Hill Country, includes Coats as a performer, on bass.

“We just like to play and share a message through our songs,” Coats said. “The groups we have (at the festival) aren’t paid performers – it’s not something they do for a living –” but “I think people like to come out and hear the music.”

Following Love to Sing Studio vocalists, performers include:

10 a.m. – God’s Outlaws

11 a.m. – First Born Sons

Noon – Hill Country

1 p.m. – Chris Williams and Davis Jones

2 p.m. – Ashley Keplinger

3 p.m. – the Cooper family

Vendors will be on-site to sell their wares – particular craftsman, including a woodworker, jewelry-maker and a woman who crochets doilies. Food vendors will also be available, and the fire department will sell hamburgers and hotdogs, which is the biggest fundraiser for the department, Coats said.

All proceeds from the festival benefit Hodges Fire and Rescue, which took on the festival last year to make sure it didn’t die out.

“You don’t think much about it until you start seeing the bills come in,” Coats said. Funds raised will help the department with all kinds of expenses, such as insurance on five pieces of equipment – including two fire engines and a rescue unit – insurance on the building, natural gas bill in the winter, phone bill, diesel to run the vehicles, testing and maintenance of self-contained breathing apparatuses, replacement of aging fire hose, training fees and more.

In addition to a day of fun, the fire department will use the festival as an opportunity to teach children about fire safety. An officer will man a fire prevention trailer that children can tour.

“He’ll take groups of children through and have fire prevention materials to give them,” Coats said. “He’ll point out fire hazards and things you do and don’t do if you’re in your home and it catches on fire.”

Air Evac will also have a helicopter on display for children to marvel at.

The festival will be held at the town park. Hours are from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free. Visit The Spirit of Hodges Festival on Facebook or website