Leader Blues

Monday, October 16, 2006

TOP STORY >>Celebrating Cabot rebirth

By HEATHER HARTSELLl
Leader staff writer

The 28th annual CabotFest that is being held today is a festival that has gone through many changes over the years.
Having started as a restoration celebration after a devastating tornado hit downtown Cabot in March 1976, CabotFest has grown into one of the city’s biggest events.

CabotFest, which is held in the downtown City Plaza area each October, has grown in popularity as the city’s population has grown dramatically since the tornado.

The first CabotFest, called “Cabot: We’re Back,” was held in 1978 after the town was rebuilt following the tornado.
During the rebuilding of the city, it was decided to build a new city hall, municipal courtroom, library (since relocated) and police station on the site of the debris-filled dividing point between the east and west sections of Main Street, creating City Plaza and the current Willie Ray Community Center.

Now in that tradition of growth, Cabot has just entered into a lease agreement to move the city hall offices into the old Community Bank building located next door. The new address for Cabot City Hall will be 1 City Plaza, but it won’t be called home until 2007.

When CabotFest began, it was a more low-key event, according to Betty Benedict, who has had a booth since 1979.
“It was more of a country community get together,” Benedict said. “At that time, only clubs and organizations had booths.”
Benedict said the event has really grown over the years, citing one big change being the cost of having a booth.

“When I started, it was $10 for a booth,” Benedict said. “Now it costs $75 for a booth, plus a $50 deposit that you don’t get back unless you stay from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. Saturday.” Benedict also said former Cabot Chamber of Commerce director Mary Jane Sawyer added the carnival to CabotFest. Razorback Amusements has a dozen carnival rides set up for today’s festivities.

Other activities offered include live entertainment, a rock-climbing wall, an inflatable playground, a car show, a Nascar remote-control speedway and a motorcycle run. The Abate District 13 motorcycle group will be in attendance for the run.
First Security Bank is providing the children’s playground.

New to this year’s festivities is a 3-on-3 basketball tournament sponsored by the Arkansas Rim Rockers NBA development league. Players 5-years-old and up can compete. The tournament will culminate in a “Top Gun Blowout” featuring Arkansas basketball legends Kareem Reed and Scotty Thurman.