Jo Anne Embleton
Jacksonville Daily Progress
The month of May kicks off a bevy of weekend events promising to be packed with food, fun and entertainment.
On Thursday, River Run ATV Park – a 2,000-acre-plus off-road park located between Jacksonville and Frankston on the Neches River – kicked off its annual four-day Mudd Jam and Music Festival.
Mud races will begin at noon Sat-urday at the race pit, and later in the evening, beginning at 8 p.m., musical performances include those by The Cadillac Black, Kyle Park and Frank Foster, beginning at 8 p.m.
Friday events in-cluded a karaoke contest, an Xtreme Mud Mag Show-N-Shine and musical performances by Stackin Bills, Jason Cassidy and Joe Nichols.
According to the River Run website, the grounds offer “several mud pits for people that like to take it to the extreme,” as well as vehicle cleaning equipment, restroom and shower facilities. Available camping in-cludes 120 RV sites with full hook-ups, nine cabins and primitive camping.
In Jacksonville, the annual Country Crit-ter Carnival runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Nichols Green II Park, allowing pet owners the opportunity to have some fun while ensuring their pets receive their annual vaccines.
The event – sponsored by the Richard D. Klein Animal Shelter – features a petting zoo, a chalk art contest, face painting, an Animalympics that tests canines' agility, a live DJ and McGruff the Crime Dog, along with other games and activities. The free carnival also will have available hot dogs, sno-cones, cotton candy and beverages.
Dr. Justin Cavitt will over see the low-cost vaccine clinic, where costs run from $20 for rabies and $15 for other vaccines, or a $50 protection package, which includes all annual vaccines for cats and dogs. Pets also may be micro-chipped at an additional cost of $12, which includes a lifetime national registration, said shelter executive director Angela Wal-lace said.
The Neches community will celebrate its 21st -annual festival on Saturday with a parade, with Jack Wedgeworth of the Neches Volunteer Fire Department and his sidekick "Smokey Bear” serving as Grand Marshal.
The parade line-up begins at 9:30 a.m. on F.M. 2574 at the Neches City limits sign, traveling through Neches and ending at the Marvin Skeen Community Center on FM 19 adjacent to Neches Elementary School.
Afterward, the festival – held until 3 p.m. – begins at the community center and will feature arts and
crafts, music and free games for kids of all ages. The 4th-annual cake bake-off also will be held as part of the festivities, as will a drawing for a Savage Arms .308 Winchester w/ Bushnell scope.
An informational history booth will be set up during the event, with local cemetery records available for perusal.
In the Reese community, just west of Jacksonville on U.S. 175, the annual Reese Home-coming will be held Saturday from 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m. at the community center. The event – which includes a potluck meal and a drawing for a handmade quilt – benefits the maintenance of the community cemetery and community center.
According to resident Charles Etheridge, the homecoming is held annually on the first Saturday in May, giving “people who live in other places a chance to get together” and renew friendships.
“It's been going on about 40 years,” he said, with an estimated 100 attendees.
On Sunday – not too far from Alto, on FM 851 – the Central High Homecoming kicks off at 10:30 a.m. at the old high school, now utilized as a community center.
Resident Mary Helm said the event is held every year on the first Sunday in May, attracting former teachers and students “who like to get together and visit.”
“It's just a way to keep in touch,” she explained, adding that the homecoming at-tracts about 50 or so attendees. “Lots of us still have ties here.”
Proceeds from a quilt drawing will go toward the upkeep of the building, constructed in 1919 and and served students until 1957. Chan-ces for the quilt – created by members of the Central High Home Demonstration Club – are $1 apiece and will be available at the event; the drawing will take place after lunch, Helm said.