Once again, zombies will be racing down Main Street in Benton during a full day of festivities starting off with Old-Fashioned Day and ending with a Zombie Street Dance Oct. 12.
"(People can) make a whole day of it Downtown," said Tina Coston, executive assistant to Mayor Tom Farmer and the city's marketing director.
The spooky-themed fun will begin with the Lil' Man and Lil' Miss Zombie Pageant on Oct. 11 at the Royal Theatre. Boys and girls ages 3 to 6 and 7 to 10 will compete for king and queen and to earn crowns.
Coston said the participants will do their best "zombie walk" while dressed as zombies. The emcee for the event will read their story about how they became a zombie. She said for the younger contestants the parents tend to write the story while older contestants tend to write their own.
The winners will take part as kings and queens in the zombie parade.
Coston said each of the participants will receive a goody bag to take home.
"We want everyone to walk away with something," Coston said.
The cost to enter the pageant is $25.
At 7 a.m., the Royal Players plan to hold an undead 5K Downtown.
This year the city is partnering with the Benton Senior Wellness and Activity Center to put on Old-Fashioned Day on the Saline County Courthouse lawn. The festivities will begin at 9 a.m.
Starting at 3 p.m., zombie makeup will be available for free at a booth during Old-Fashioned Day. Makeup artists will be providing their talents to turn participants into the undead.
At 4:30 p.m., the zombie parade will start at the Vote Here Center. Coffin race entries will show off their coffins and the winners of the pageant will take part. The parade is open for anyone who wishes to don a zombie look and join. Coston expects the parade to last around 30 minutes.
At the end of the parade, the coffin races will begin. Before the races, three impartial judges will pick the best looking coffin for an award.
All race participants must be at least 15 years old. Each coffin must meet specifications which are available at Benton City Hall.
"It is not a real coffin," Coston said. "It is homemade."
Each team must have two pushers and one rider.
Two coffins will run at a time in each race. Each coffin is guaranteed to participate in at least two heats. The top four coffins will race for first, second and third place.
The course will be from Cleo's Furniture to the Vote Here Center, which Coston estimates is less than 250 feet.
The top three coffins will win prizes.
This year, Coston said there will not be as much time between races.
The entry fee for the coffin races will be $35. Coston said people use the coffins to promote businesses, organizations or even political candidates. Participants are encouraged to decorate their entries.
After the races, the city will hold a Zombie Street Dance. Local band Just Sayin' will perform.
Any food truck vendors who want to set up can do so for free. Coston said the only charge will be if they need electrical hookups. They can contact Coston to sign up.
Coston is currently accepting sponsors for all the city's events over the two days. Anyone interested can contact Coston.
Once again the city will be promoting the event with its Zeek the Zombie contest. Coston said Zeeks, which are 4.5-inch tall stress dolls that look like a zombie in a suit. Zeeks will be available to pick up at Benton City Hall on Aug. 5, at Farmer's office. Contestants will take creative pictures of Zeek and post them on the Arkansas Coffin Race Facebook page with the hashtag #ArkansasCoffinRaces.
"First-, second- and third-place prizes will be awarded for the most creative and best quality photos, so think outside the box," Coston said.
Farmer said the coffin races and other events provide the city of Benton with something unique that draws visitors.
"It is an opportunity for people to be in our very great community," Farmer said.
To sign up for the races, pageant, a vendor space, sponsorships or to get more information, people can call Coston at 501-776-5905, email firstname.lastname@example.org or stop by city hall. They can also visit the Arkansas Coffin Races website or www.bentonar.org/entry-forms-and-registrations.
Both Farmer and Coston encourage the community to take part and check out the spooky-themed events.