The Faulkner County Fair Parade Committee chose "A Reason to Smile" as the theme for this year’s parade at its first meeting on Tuesday.

Committee Chairman Rick Sublett said, "We lost what I consider a great member of the committee who always did a great job with her writing, Becky Harris. And since Becky’s death we lost Ed Hammontree. My idea would be ‘A Reason to Smile’ because whenever you saw Becky, no matter what health she was in, she was always smiling. And you couldn’t sit through one of Ed’s auctions without smiling, and he always loved the kids at the fair."

Harris, known in Faulkner County for her work with the arts and at the Log Cabin Democrat, died in May. Hammontree, the founder of Circle H Auction Company, an Army veteran and community volunteer, died in late July.

The committee chose the theme and decided to have the families of Harris and Hammontree serve as grand marshals of the parade.

Jim Rhodes, a son of Harris, said, "I’m humbled and certainly excited. The kids will love it. Mom would have thought that was the greatest thing. The county fair was always something we participated in. Where I grew up, in Pine Bluff, the county fair was always the week of my birthday, in September. We all grew up going to the fair.

"She loved the crafts and the vegetable-growing competition, going to see the animals. She liked watching the auction. It was always something she thought was fun, and she liked writing about it. She just loved the county fair."

Shawn Hammontree, son of Ed Hammontree, said of the honor, "That is so neat. I know this would make him smile. That’s been the biggest thing people have said about him. I know that would bring a big smile to his face to be honored like that."

He noted his father had called the youth livestock auction at the fair for the past 24 years.

"This would have been his 25th, and he enjoyed it," he said.

Sublett said all schools, organizations and businesses are encouraged to enter floats in the parade, which will be 5 p.m. Sept. 16. In keeping with the theme, he said, floats should be covered in "things at the fair that make you smile."

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