Temperatures may be cooler in the fall, but Downtown El Dorado will be sizzling with the Smoke on the Square Fall Festival, which is set for Saturday, October 26, with live music, food and fun.

Presented by Main Street El Dorado and title sponsor Murphy USA, Smoke on the Square is a new festival that will offer an assortment of family-oriented events and attractions, steeped in the traditional sights, sounds, scents and flavors of autumn.

According to a press release, "We were looking for a new event and the opportunity to have another big fundraiser to bring in income to fund our program," said Beth Brumley, executive director of Main Street El Dorado.

"We have been looking at fall to do something for families and children that would give them that fall feel — something that would bring people to town and keep local people from having to go out of town to find fall activities, like a pumpkin patch," Brumley said.

At center of the festival is the Smoke on the Square grilling competition, a Kansas City Barbecue Society (KCBS)-sanctioned event in which cookers near and far are invited to whip up their most succulent BBQ recipes and vie for cash prizes with a guaranteed pot starting at $20,000.

By entering the competition, grillers may chase points that could lead to a major bid on the championship circuit.

"Smoke on the Square is an Arkansas State Championship and the winner will be invited to the Jack Daniel’s (World Championship Invitational Barbecue) in Lynchburg, Tennessee," said Ron Cates, host of the Smoke on the Square grilling competition and president and chief executive officer of Smoke on the Water Productions, a KCBS representative.

Cooking teams may sign up for the professional grill-off, which includes four categories: chicken, ribs, brisket and pork butt, plus sauces; a Backyard Battle contest with chicken and ribs; or a People's Choice Pork contest.

"We're looking for about 25 teams, which are typically four or five people. Locals are invited to participate in either category," Brumley said, adding that the crowd will be able to purchase BBQ prepared by championship grillers.

Other food vendors will also be on site with a variety of delectable treats, including standard carnival and festival fare.

Events and Attractions

Festival-goers will have their pick of fun events and attractions that will fill every corner of downtown El Dorado!

A paid wristband will allow all-day admission into the Kids Fun Zone, with access to inflatables, a rock-climbing wall, petting zoo, small Ferris wheel, pony carousel and hay rides.

Families will have the opportunity to "Strut on the Square", a children and pets costume contest that is sponsored by the Union County Animal Protection Society.

Children will also be able to flex their creative muscles in a T-shirt pageant. Contestants in different age categories may decorate their T-shirts however they wish for judging. T-shirts will be included in the entry fee for the pageant.

Pumpkins, an autumn staple, will be the featured flavor in Pie Wars, pie-baking and -eating contests.

Festival organizers said music will fill the crisp fall air throughout the day with a DJ and live performances by Anna Vinson, the lead singer of Mustang Mafia, and tribute bands Escape (Journey) and The Breeze (Lynryd Skynyrd).

A Budweiser Build-A-Bar will also be available with bar seats and TV screens.

Admission is free for the Smoke on the Square Fall Festival and some festival activities will be paid. Tickets for the VIP Experience are available for $25 and include access to the VIP room and pit area for the concerts.

For more information, call Main Street El Dorado at 870-862-4747 or visit the Main Street Facebook page. Also, visit smokeonthewaterbbq.com for more details about the grilling competition.

Other sponsors for the Smoke on the Square Festival are PJ’s Coffee, Glenn Mechanical, Hepco, Brookshire’s, Southern Bancorp, Mac’s Tree Service, First Financial Bank, Candlewood Suites, the Withrow Family, LanXess, Murphy Foundation, Lawrence Electric and Union County Judge Mike Loftin.

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