Monday, August 3, 2009

July 2009 is history! And what a busy month it was.
Working in a small town newspaper (Batesville Daily Guard) keeps everyone hopping to try to cover all the local events.

Of course July 4 was a big deal for everyone locally (Batesville, AR.) and culminated with a big fireworks show on the banks of the beautiful White River.

The explosions in the sky were great, and the reflections on the water, along with the smoke cloud that hung in the air added to the thrill of the event.

The 4th was my first opportunity to shoot fireworks with my digital SLR camera (Sony Alpha 200). But with a good advantage point and a decent lens I was able to get a few good shots. My biggest drawback was that the rockets weren't getting much altitude before exploding.

I used a tripod, slowed my camera shutter speed and used a 2 second timer delay to allow me to get my hands off the camera and prevent camera shake. To do this properly I needed a remote release, but that isn't in my arsenal yet as it is an infrequent need right now.

The next big event in July was the Independence County Fair which ran the week of July 21- 25.

Monday was fair booth set up day for the Guard staff, along with tieing up loose ends for sponsors. There were different events every day, including the traditional livestock, produce, crafts, photography judging, and of course a big midway full of rides! A fair goer registers for free gas at the GUARD booth.....note the special awards for achievements on the walls .......

The highlight of the fair for me was the first, and hopefully not last, Veterans Appreciation Day from 9-noon Saturday. Traveling Veterans Memorial displays 99 flags/photos, representing Arkansas soldiers that have died since 9-11-01.

Members of our local National Guard unit, Co. B were recognized for their service in the mid east and welcomed home. SSGT Jay Tipton addresses the gathered veterans.

Also recognized, or honored, were veterans from all branches of the services that served in WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, and most recently Iraqi Freedom. Those who have served on home turf were also honored.

Robert Hopper of Forrest City, AR. was present with his Traveling Memorial display. It consists of 99 American flags, posted with the names/photos of Arkansas soldiers who have died in service to their country since 9-11-01.

Robert lost a son in Iraq a few years ago and felt that our soldiers weren't being recognized properly and started the traveling memorial in honor of his son and others who have died.

In photo at right, Batesville Mayor
Rick Elumbaugh honors returning
soldiers from Iraq, (far right) soldiers close service.

*******Donations to the memorial may be made at.....
Arkansas Fallen Heroes Memorial
1588 S F C 340
Forrest City, AR. 72335

Each night also featured different musical entertainment, with the Saturday night headliner being country/pop singer Ronnie McDowell. He had a great show, still the same energetic, crowd pleasing entertainer I had the pleasure to MC for some 30 years ago in Clinton, IA. when I was a country DJ at KLNT.

Immediately after the Independence County Fair closed, the Sharp County Fair in nearby Ash Flat area began its run, leaning heavily towards livestock exhibition and competition.

Next it was time to gear up for the 66th annual White River Water Carnival, July 31-Aug.1, complete with golf tournament, beauty pageants, local "White River's Got Talent" contest....congratulations to winner Shane Sturdivant....and the biggest draw of all, A PARADE!

With a theme relating to famous U.S. Route 66, to keep with the 66th annual event, floats and entries paraded (no pun intended) down Main Street Saturday morning as thousands of people lined the streets.

For the second year in a row, and a huge success, the Guard sponsored a "Wet Zone" in an attempt to put the "water" back into the water carnival celebration.

The creativity of the newspaper's Ross Jones last year with the crazy water spraying van, was expanded on this year with air powered water canons, all to the delight of the crowds that lined the street in the "wet zone".

Being smarter that the average parade photographer, I positioned myself on a boom lift high above the parade (and any squirt gun that might get pointed my way) for some neat photos.

Just in case the threatening rains prevailed, or a lucky shot from a water canon came my way, I used a rain sleeve to protect my camera. If you ever shoot in wet conditions, rain, snow, water sports or wild parades, this little $8 (pack of 2) gadget is a must have.

Our idea of a wet zone was so popular that a photo of our company van got featured on the cover of our local/regional phone book! That's almost as good as the thrill of a picture on Rolling Stone!

Another big part of the water carnival is a carnival and water show at Riverside Park on the White River....among the talent there was CJ Robey (left in duo) and Mary Wood giving ski demonstrations and pro wake boarder Rusty Elumbaugh catching air.......

So, thankful that July is over, August should offer some R&R time, perhaps a camping/photo trip along a trout stream or a remote spot on the Buffalo National River valley......(fair and water carnival photos by Tony McGuffey, used with permission from Batesville Daily Guard newspaper)