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story.lead_photo.caption Two-year-old Alyssa Winters interacts with a baby alligator from White Oak Lake State Park

SouthArk Outdoor Expo attendees dodged rain on and off throughout the day, with the sun peeking through a few times.

The annual SouthArk Outdoor Expo, which took place Saturday, brought a full day of food, crafts, music, contests and outdoor-themed entertainment.

The Nexans AmerCable Maj. Ronald Wayne Culver Hero 5K run/walk kicked off the Outdoor Expo Saturday morning at 7:30 a.m.

Photo by Terrance Armstard
5K: Runners compete in the 5k Run/Walk race of the SouthArk Outdoor Expo on Saturday.

Contestants of the Withrow Family Rib Cookoff began cooking the night before the expo, preparing the ribs which were judged Saturday afternoon.

The top prize for the cookoff went to Albemarle’s team “Bromine,” which won $2,000 for their ribs. The team also won “Best Rig Construction” and “Cooker’s Choice,” with their shrimp and grits on ciabatta bread.

The musical bands of Tunesmith, Cory Jackson and Aces Wild all played on the main stage throughout the day, giving festival-goers free, live entertainment.

Also at the Outdoor Expo was the second annual Union County Animal Protection Society Dog Bowl that began at 11 a.m.

The dog bowl, which was sponsored by Petsense, brought dogs of all breeds and sizes to compete in various categories.

Photo by Terrance Armstard
Chuck Johnson grills ribs

There were 11 contestants in the bowl, with the first category being “Most Beautiful or Handsome.”

Other categories included best dressed, cutest/scruffiest, best trick, longest ears or tail, most representative of their breed, fastest sitter, congeniality and best of the best.

Best of the best went to a 3-year-old Cockapoo named Buddy. Buddy’s owner, Randi Nolan, said this was the first time they have completed in any kind of competition.

“This is our first family dog and I didn’t really want one and my husband tricked me by bringing him home and saying we were babysitting him for someone,” Nolan joked.

She said that Buddy sits in the car like a person, seatbelt on and all.

“One of my favorite tricks is when he knows I have a treat (I’ll show him) and I’ll tell him to stay, and then I just go walking around the house and he stays there until he hears me say ‘come’ and then he runs really fast to where I am,” Nolan said.

Photo by Terrance Armstard
Kimberlee Burgess of Pine Bluff cleans the rims of her 2016 Dodge Challenger Hellcat while attending the expo.

Buddy also won first place in cutest, third place for best trick and first place for fastest sitter.

Steven Ward, one of the judges for the bowl, said that they decided who won “best of the best” by where they placed in the other categories.

“I enjoy the dog show,” Ward said. “I did it last year and it’s one of my favorite things to do.”

Other category winners included Kira, a Shetland Sheepdog breed, who won most beautiful and best trick.

Photo by Terrance Armstard
Snake handler: Kamea Robinson, 14, of Norphlet holds a garter snake while attending the SouthArk Outdoor Expo on Saturday.

Sadie, a dachshund, won best dressed. Longest ears or tail was won by an English Mastiff named Maximus. Most representative of its breed was won by a black Labrador Retriever named Tripp and congeniality went to a Rat Terrier named Dixie.

The SouthArk Outdoor Expo’s major emphasis is to educate the youth about outdoor activities. There were many booths and activities targeted towards anglers, hunters, children and families.

The Southark Outdoor Expo is a project of the SouthArk Foundation, which supports South Arkansas Community College endeavors and provides a wide range of privately-funded scholarships. The Outdoor Expo is the nonprofit’s largest fundraiser.

Kaitlyn Rigdon can be reached at 870-862-6611 or

Photo by Terrance Armstard
Singing: Cory Jackson performs during the 2018 SouthArk Outdoor Expo.

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