Ridgway residents and members of the Popcorn Days Committee are busy getting ready for the 55th annual festival that is expected to bring 15,000 to 20,000 people to Gallatin County for the free popcorn and entertainment held in downtown Ridgway Wednesday through Saturday.
Secretary Treasurer of the Popcorn Days Committee Sheila Pittman said she expects the largest crowd Saturday night for the free live music, "and, of course, the free fresh popcorn."
Due to rain and muddy conditions, some of the events normally held at the Gallatin County Fairground had to be canceled or moved. The baby photo contest, along with the much-anticipated Wednesday evening beauty pageant for Little Miss, Little Lassie and Junior Miss will be held beginning at 6 p.m. at the downtown stage this year instead of the fairground.
The Beauty Queen Pageant is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. Friday, and according to Pageant Director Beth Wargel, it will be quite the contest with only three girls entered this year. Winners from Wednesday's pageants will open the event, before the three girls entered in the Beauty Queen Pageant, who can range in age from 16 to 21 and must be Gallatin County residents, begin their competition.
"The girls have a personal interview with the judges before the pageant," Wargel said.
After that, the girls will then be judged on their stage presence in both casual wear and an evening gown. They will also be asked an on-stage question by the judges.
"The girls work really hard," Wargel said.
This year, during the pageant videos produced by Pittman and other residents will be played throughout the event showing photographs in Gallatin County from the 2011 flood, the Feb. 29 tornado and the current drought. Martin Duffy will emcee the pageant.
Along with a variety of food vendors, Pittman said there will be a menagerie tent full of booths selling everything from hair bows to knives. Most of Saturday's morning events, like the frog jumping and bubble gum blowing contests, are targeted for the younger children, while Saturday evening will provide free live music that all ages can enjoy.
Thursday through Saturday carnival armbands will be available for purchase for $18, allowing kids — and kids-at-heart — to ride as many rides as they want without having to keep purchasing tickets.
"We always try to do as much as we can for as little cost as possible to our guests," Pittman said. "That's important to people."
Pittman said the Ridgway Beautification Organization has spruced up the town and hopes residents do the same by mowing their lawns and keeping their houses in order so out-of-town attendees can see the beauty of Gallatin County.
"We want to make our town look as nice as we can," Pittman said,
Though the preparation involved in the festival may require quite a bit of time and effort, Pittman said it's worth the hard work.
Page 2 of 2 - "It's a lot of work, but when you see the smiles on their faces you realize it's all worth it," she said.
2012 Popcorn Day Schedule
6 p.m. — Baby Photo Contest followed by Little Miss Gallatin County Fair Contest at the downtown Ridgway stage
6:30 p.m. — Pre-Registration for Washer Pitching
7 p.m. — Washer Pitching Contest, Kiddie Tractor Pull and Little Lassie Contest followed by the Junior Miss Contest
5:30 p.m. — Arm Band Night at Carnival ($18)
7 p.m. — Gospel Night Sponsored by 1st Baptist Church, Ridgway Featuring One Voice and Nehrkorns. Rain location at Ridgway Fire Dept.
3 p.m. — Menagerie Tent
5 p.m. — Arm Band Night at Carnival ($18)
7 p.m. — Fast Pit Mud Sling Race. Gates open at 5 p.m. with a driver's meeting 6:30 p.m.
7:30 p.m. — Beauty Queen Contest on Downtown Stage in Ridgway
9:30 a.m. — Kiddie Parade
10 a.m. — Carnival Opens, armbands good until closing
10 a.m. — Frog Jumping, Popcorn Eating and Bubble Gum Blowing Contest
10 a.m. — Menagerie Tent
1 p.m. — Giant Parade
5 p.m. — Demolition Derby
2:30 p.m. — Kristi Rose
4:15 p.m. — Leland's Road
5:30 p.m. — Minx
7:45 p.m. — Leland's Road
9 p.m. — Confederate Railroad
10:45 p.m. — Minx
Free popcorn Thursday and Friday nights and all day Saturday.
Rain Date For Canceled Events