"Rockin’ at the Fair" proved the most popular of several themes discussed for the annual Faulkner County Fair Parade at the Fair Parade Committee’s first meeting Tuesday.

Themes that ended up on the scrap heap included "A Salute to our Public Servants," the Kris Allen-inspired "Idols of Faulkner County," the previously used but popular "From Trails to Turnpikes" and, in light of the recession, "When the Wind Stops Blowing, Start Rowing."

Several other themes centered on this being the last year for the county fair at YBMA Fairgrounds in central Conway. "Farewell to the Fairgrounds" and "Remembering 71 Years" were considered, possibly involving entries based on the fashions and style of 1946, the first year of the YBMA Fairgrounds, but these themes didn’t find the support of "Rockin’ at the Fair," which easily won in a show of hands vote.

Fair Parade Committee chairman Rick Sublett said he approved of the theme, as it should make for good floats and capitalize on the Kris Allen excitement.

It was agreed that the more senior fair participants could fairly interpret the theme to mean "Rockin’" chairs.

There was some discussion among a few committee members as to whether Allen himself, who will have finished the 50-concert "Idols" tour that started in July, would take part.

"I think he’d do it," committee member Frank Shaw, who proposed "Rockin’ at the Fair," said. "I think he’s that kind of guy."

"American Idol spokesperson Eric Green said as far as he knew Allen wouldn’t be contractually restricted from an appearance, but the recording schedule for his upcoming album might keep him in California.

There’s still a lot of organizing to do, and meetings will continue on a weekly basis. Committee member Toby Hart said that horse judging will begin at 4:30 p.m. "sharp," probably at Laurel Park though the location is subject to change. All horse entries must be accompanied with negative Coggins (equine infectious anemia) papers to be eligible for the parade, she said.

There will also be no hand-led horses this year.

In a sad turn for the parade, James Black, the man who for decades appeared as Uncle Sam in the parade, died on March 6 at 76. In recent years Black had to retire the stilts that were an integral part of his costume, instead hitching a ride in such vehicles as a vintage military Jeep and fire engine.

There was some discussion after the meeting of trying to find a replacement, but "it’s the sort of thing we probably just need to retire," committee member Fletcher Smith said, because "there’s just no way we’re really going to replace James Black." 

Smith said he remembered Black’s yearly appearance from his youth, and had in recent years heard young people say they always looked for him in the parade.

"There was a lot more to who he was and what he brought to our parade than the costume and the stilts," Smith said.

The parade is scheduled for Sept. 22. For more information go to www.faulknerfairparade.net.

(Staff writer Joe Lamb can be reached at 505-1238 or by E-mail at joe.lamb@thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit.)