Spook City

Whitleigh Tinkler, 6, and Tynleigh Isom, 6, show off their "League of Their Own" costumes at Spook City. This year's Spook City will be from 5 to 9 p.m. Oct. 19 in Downtown Benton. 

From ghouls to princesses, from superheroes to wizards, costumed kiddies, candy, rides and more will fill Downtown Benton for Spook City starting at 5 p.m. and running to 9 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 19. 

The 14th annual event is put on by the Downtown Benton Business Owners Association. 

If it rains, it will move to Monday, Oct. 21. 

Admission to Spook City is free. 

"We try to have an old-time Halloween carnival for families with younger children," organizer Joyce Robinson said. 

Robinson said the Association has decided to dedicate this year's Spook City in the memory of long-time supporter, the late James Posey. 

"He loved Halloween," Robinson said. "He loved to give out candy."

Robinson remembers years when Posey would fill a shopping cart with candy and bring it down to the event to give to all the booths because he worried the children would not get enough. 

His wife, Wanda, has long served as the event's co-chair. 

The association works to keep the event inexpensive so lower income and families with multiple children can still afford the fun, Robinson said. 

Wristbands for children are $5 and include two different trains, a pirate ship, a mini ferris wheel, tubs-of-fun, Joey the Friendly Fire Truck and inflatables. 

For adults who choose to ride along with their child or younger children who may not be able to or want to do all the rides, ride tickets will be available for five for $1. 

There will be two additional attractions that won't be covered under either the wrist band or tickets. For $5 each, cash only, children can do the pony ride or the climbing wall. 

Trick-or-treating is scheduled to run until 7 p.m., which Robinson said should give the children plenty of time for rides after. Booths will be set up around the main square downtown run by businesses, churches and civic groups. She expects the booths will hand out candy. Some will offer games, popcorn and maybe even snow cones if the weather is still warm. She hopes every child goes home with a bag full of candy. 

Robinson said having a booth is free. She asks that anyone who has a booth bring at least 5,000 pieces of candy. Spots for booths are assigned. Booths supply their own tables, chairs, tent and decorations. Informational handouts can be given to adults, but not children. 

Application forms and rules can be picked up at The Benton Area Chamber of Commerce, Paradise Pets, the Oil Shop or send a message to Robinson on the Facebook page. They can also let her know if they would prefer a particular space. 

Robinson said each year there are anywhere from 65 to 95 stations downtown. 

There will also be pumpkin bowling and two free inflatable games, one sponsored by the Masonic Lodge and the other by Recycle Saline. 

"It started as a way to say thank you to the community from the shops downtown," she said. 

Over the years it has grown to attract people to Benton from all over Central Arkansas. 

To ensure the event is safe for everyone, the Benton Police Department and Saline County Sheriff's Department reserve officers will be providing security during the evening. 

Robinson advised no one attempt to park on the street. If they do, their car will most likely be stuck until the event ends at 9 p.m.  

Along with the costumes worn by children and their parents, Robinson said there will be characters on hand for the children to meet, including the Chic-Fil-A Cow, storm troopers, superheroes, Marcus the Stilt Walker, the Arkansas Traveler's mascot and the mascot for the Saline County Women's Lions Club. 

As this is an event geared toward children and families, the association asks that all costumes be tasteful, not too scary or risqué.  

Each year, Robinson said, anywhere from 7,000 to 9,000 people attend Spook City. 

Burger Shack, Italy In Town and the Royal Theatre concession stand are all set to sell food during the event. Robinson said Wells Concessions will also sell fair food and Coolest Cotton Candy to Go will be set up selling treats. She expects Main Street Station to have food trucks open. 

Benton Parks and Recreation will hold a costume contest in the Farmer's Market. Contestants will get pictures taken of their costumes. Parks and Recreation will also have pumpkin painting. Robinson said painters can leave their pumpkins and pick them up at the end of the night. 

"We really want to encourage people to get down there," she said. 

Spook City will have four safe zones set up downtown where children can go if they become lost. These will be the areas where wristbands and tickets are sold. 

The police will search for any lost children and DJ Hollywood, the event emcee, will make any lost children announcements from the stage. 

At the end of the area marked off for Spook City, First Baptist Church Benton plans to have inflatables. 

"I think (Spook City) is good for the community," Robinson said. "It is good for children to have a safe place to go with family and have a good time."

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