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Becky Bell

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Year-round BBQ

When people think of summer, they often think of barbecue. But to O.B. Crayton and his wife Harriett who operate Crayton’s BBQ food truck in Magnolia, barbecue isn’t limited to one season.

“People love barbecue just as much in the winter as the summer,” O.B. Crayton said. “Right now, they don’t want to have to be out in the heat. I’ve got one guy who has a big grill like mine, and he tells me he just comes and gets the barbecue from me rather than fire his grill up.”

The Crayton’s have spent most of their lives cooking for both pleasure and practicality. O.B. Crayton is a self-taught barbecue cook who was formerly married to a woman he said wasn’t a good cook. He said this made him play around in the kitchen and learn how to make his own food and he fell in love with it.

“It also made me vow to never eat Hamburger Helper ever again,” he said, laughing. “We used to have it three times a week, and I like to cook because I like to eat.”

O.B. and Harriett have been married for 28 years now. Crayton said it was his wife who started the business because she would grill leg quarters and cook sides for plates to be sold on Fridays at his job, Albemarle Corporation. The orders began with about 15, but sales grew quickly to 60 plates.

Later she cooked meals for their former church, Full Gospel Holy Temple.

Crayton’s BBQ Express

Before he retired, he and his wife opened a restaurant called Crayton’s BBQ Express. They sold barbecue and soul food at 617 S. Jackson Street, and operated it for about nine years. However, the restaurant was given to their daughter, Ashley Lambert. She is a lawyer who owns her own food truck, The Tipsy Turkey Shack. She sells turkey legs stuffed with various ingredients along with other fares. The restaurant, Crayton’s BBQ Express, was closed and did not reopen after the pandemic.

Now, the Crayton’s have been operating their present and updated food truck for about six months. The number one seller has been brisket followed closely by ribs. Other more unusual items to some food cravers include smoked turkey necks and pig’s feet. Recently, O.B. Crayton smoked 40 pigs’ feet for one order.

Sides and More

Harriett Crayton makes the side items and dares anyone who says they don’t like potato salad to try hers. It’s made with traditional ingredients but has a mixed mayonnaise and mustard base. She also makes baked beans, collard greens, yams, macaroni and cheese, and hot water cornbread.

In addition, she makes the items good for those with a sweet tooth. Some of the most popular items include peach cobbler, sweet potato pie, red velvet cake, chocolate cake, and pound cake.

“If you don’t have a passion and put love into it, it won’t be good no matter what you do,” Harriett Crayton said.

Her husband agreed.

“When she is tired, I don’t let her cook anything because it wouldn’t be the same.”

O.B. noticed a long time ago that he can give someone the same ingredients and teach them how to cook the item just like he does, but it won’t taste the same to customers who frequent his food truck.

“They will say, you didn’t cook it, you can give them the ingredients, but you can’t give them the love,” Crayton said.

Made with Love

The top sellers of the food truck – brisket and ribs – takes the longest time to prepare, about 11 to 12 hours. O.B. cooks those in his grill the night before he takes his truck to the plaza across from the United Methodist Church in Magnolia which is on 320 W. Main Street. The plaza is also where the somewhat new Dollar General is located and Chick-A-Dilly.

Normally, the truck runs from 1 p.m. until the food is sold out on Tuesdays and Thursdays. However, the truck may appear in that parking lot on other days if he is ready with the barbecue.

The couple laughs because for years people have knocked on their door at home asking if they had any barbecue for sale. Harriett said the food is on the truck, not in her home.

But the home is where the heart is for all barbecue and wonderful sides.

“Grilling in the backyard is one thing and it doesn’t take much preparation, but most people don’t think about feeding the masses,” he said. “It’s very hard.”

 

The third annual Pedals for Compassion, a charity bike ride that benefits the domestic violence shelter in Columbia County, is scheduled for June 19 and more bikers are encouraged to join in on the ride.

Signing up for the event is easy and can be done HERE or on the day of the ride at Square Park in Magnolia.

Registration is $65 before June 19 and $70 on the day of the ride.

Debra Martin, Executive Director of the Compassion’s Foundation Domestic Violence Shelter, said last year’s event was incredible, even with the pandemic. The event had 150 participants and raised around $17,000.

“We are hoping with the good weather and relaxed COVID-19 restrictions to have even more riders this year,” Martin said.

This year’s event begins at 7:30 a.m. at the Magnolia Square Park on 117 North Jefferson downtown. Options for the ride include 15 miles, 35 miles, 65 miles, and 100 miles.

All riders who participate will receive swag bags, snacks, and drinks at all rest stops along their ride—which always has fun themes—and a delicious post-ride meal. Door prizes from generous area businesses will also be given away.

Postmasters Grill of Camden provides the meal for riders as they head back to the Square at the conclusion of their ride. Three bands, The Tuesday Knights, 79 South, and The Vybe will perform on the Magnolia Square for entertainment beginning at 10 a.m.

Community members who do not participate in the ride are still invited to bring their lawn chairs and enjoy the music. Admission for non-riders to the square will be $5 for a refreshing beer. Additionally, Postmasters Grill will have a food truck for all patrons to purchase food to enjoy while they listen to the bands.

Jeff Neill, an avid cycler from Magnolia said the Pedals for Compassion ride surprises some of the newcomers because they are not expecting it to be challenging. However, Southwest Arkansas includes hills they aren’t counting on, he said. As someone who participates in charity rides across the country, Neill said this one is known to him and other cyclists as one of the most supported and safest ones to participate in.

“I want to get behind this charity because these individuals need to find a place they can be safe again,” he said.

The Compassion’s Foundation provides lifesaving tools and immediate support to empower domestic violence victims and survivors to find safety and live free of abuse. Throughout the year,  the nonprofit holds other fundraisers beyond the bike ride, but this event leads the way in fundraising opportunities.

Lesley Thompson, ride Event D director, said Pedals for Compassion draws riders from the Magnolia area as well as Little Rock, Dallas, and Shreveport. Last year, someone from California traveled more than 1,500 miles to ride. She said she consistently hears good feedback.

“We draw on everything good that they feel is always lacking at other events, some of which is the quality of and excitement of the rest stops,” Thompson said. “The detail put into the route marks and visual awareness of support, both from law enforcement and support drivers are something else they like. They also like the post activities at the square.”

Charlie’s Story

There are many stories of hope with the Compassion’s Foundation. One woman goes by Charlie, and she said she was put through a window, had her teeth knocked out, and had a gun put to her head before she found out she could go to the Compassion’s shelter for help.

Charlie, who goes by that name to have her real identity protected, is not from Arkansas and had never heard of Compassion’s Foundation until 2019. She was 51 when she arrived for help and said she had never known what a shelter was until then.

It was there she met Compassion’s Shelter Manager Lacey Ogle and discovered services that not only nurtured her physical body such as food and clothing but also addressed her livelihood such as helping her find a job so she could become independent.

“If it wasn’t for Lacey and Compassion’s, I’d probably be dead,” Charlie said.

Ogle said Charlie is one of the success stories of Compassion’s Foundation domestic violence shelter.

“She was living in her car when she came to us,” Ogle said. “She arrived back in 2019 and exited roughly a month later on her own two feet independently. She had her own place and a job and was one of the most strong-willed women we had ever seen. She blew us away to be exact.”

Charlie said she remembers trying to hide out from her ex-husband and living in her car with her dog and no money because while they were married, he forced her to give him all her wages from her job.

“I was living in the car with my dog and didn’t have anything to eat,” Charlie said. “I was in front of this pizza place, and I had to go to ask them for a couple of pieces of pizza. I was starving to death. I don’t know what would have happened without the Compassion’s Foundation.”


For all other questions about the Pedals for Compassion event, please contact Lesley Thompson at (870-918-7755), Anne Couch at annecouch808@gmail.com, or the Pedals event email at pedals4compassion@gmail.com.

As we approach one year of living in a pandemic, we are interested to see how COVID impacts Camden businesses. Like restaurants across the nation, restaurants close to home feel the impact of COVID and take precautions to avoid the spread inside their businesses. In Camden, two well-known restaurants, Woods Place and Postmasters Grill, are still making the best with modifications and are continuing to operate and make a living.

James Woods and his team
James Woods and his team

Woods Place, which serves a mixture of seafood, hamburgers, steaks, fried chicken, and more, has had to look elsewhere from what they used to make on catering, said James Woods, owner. “First off, when we had to shut down, and that was a shock,” he said. “We wondered if we were going to come back and what we would come back like. We’ve moved to more to-go orders, and we’ve done really well with that.” Restaurants that were established with to-go ordering have been able to keep going, he said. “I’m thinking restaurants that didn’t have a good to-go business before the pandemic are having a hard time,” Woods said. “The ones that have drive-thru businesses like your Sonics and your McDonald’s are places that have to-go business anyways. And Woods Place has really done well. A lot of people get the food and take it home.”

The National Restaurant Association reported more than $120 billion of lost revenue in the restaurant industry during the first three months of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, Woods said his workforce has only changed by ten people because of the lack of catering events. When those people come back, he will have the 40 workers he is used to having. “We are still doing some catering, but not nearly what we used to,” Woods said. ‘When it is all over, people will have parties like they used to. People are still getting married, but they are putting them off and not having a reception.” Woods Place caters to company picnics that are no longer happening for large corporations such as Albemarle and Lockheed Martin. Other caterings that have been impacted are the parties and gatherings at the Woods Place event venue called River Woods. Luckily, Woods said his business, which is 37 years old, is doing fine without the catering, but it will be nice to hire his additional employees back and do more business when it comes back.

The inside of his restaurant has seen changes because of COVID. Tables have been moved to follow state guidelines for not having people sitting next to each other. Everyone at Woods Place wears a mask, including customers. “Customer wear their mask, and that hasn’t been a problem,” he said. Another thing Woods cites as keeping the restaurant virus-free is the ventilation there. “It seems like with our ventilation in our restaurant, the vent hoods pull everything up through the ceiling, and we have not had a problem with COVID-19 spreading through the restaurant, and I think it’s due to the ventilation system.”

About to celebrate its ninth year of operation, The Postmasters Grill is in the heart of downtown Camden, AR. Originally built as a post office in the 1880s and opened in 1896, the building was added to the National Register in 1977. The unique business has had to deal with COVID issues in its own way.
According to owner Emily Jordan-Robertson, a decline in special events was noticeable in the pandemic, especially in mid to early March 2020. “Everyone in the world started canceling rehearsal dinners, catering, baby showers, anything extra,” she said.

Just like restaurants across the state, Postmasters was closed for eight weeks, but when it reopened, it had the benefit of having a beautiful patio to sit people outside where they felt safer. “Folks felt pretty comfortable on the pretty days, but when it got cooler in the fall, the business all tanked. We felt it much worse as it got into the fall.”

Postmasters Grill employee serves up draft beer
Postmasters Grill employee serves up draft beer

During the state-mandated restaurant closure, we laid off about 85 percent of the employees, she said.
With her staff working hard to serve and keep the business flowing, much care is taken to seat everyone spread out in Postmasters’ different capacities. The new seating arrangement includes a downstairs basement area, the dining room on the main floor, and the patio open when weather permits. Because the restaurant is such a large one, it has been easy to spread out people inside. At full capacity, Postmasters can seat 230 people.

Jordan-Robertson said she is happy to hear any news about the vaccine and plans to get it herself. “It gives me hope for restaurants,” she said. “I know I can’t require employees to take it, but I’ll encourage them to get it, and I’ll be the first in line. The jury is still out on the vaccine, but the gain is better than not.”

Because the pandemic is still underway and people are likely not to go on vacations to the beach, Postmasters Grill hosted special days like Island Day thru the summer on the patio. They offered Italian, German, and English specials throughout the winter. This March, they are providing Irish specials. The restaurant creates unique specials to make customers feel happy with a chance for something different without leaving town. “We like to mix it up because maybe they aren’t getting to go to Little Rock or Hot Springs,” she said. “We are not trying to be competition, but we are just trying to do something special for our guests and give them something their taste buds may be missing.”

Farmers Bank & Trust stands ready to help you or your business with impacts from COVID-19. View COVID-19 resources online, here.

Mule Kick Owner, Christy Ouei
Mule Kick Owner, Christy Ouei

Mule Kick

Although things have certainly improved since many businesses were state-mandated to close last spring, local restaurants and salons in Magnolia, AR still feel the impact of COVID-19. At MuleKick in Magnolia, owner Christy Ouei had the challenge of closing last spring. She closed for two weeks in October due to COVID exposure among her staff.

MuleKick, which offers uncommon pizzas with various crusts, craft beer, a coffee bar, and ice cream, has 26 employees. Live music and other performances are a constant on the patio, known to sell out.

“We have a very strong customer base, and we were proud because we did shut down, and then so many came back when we opened back up,” she said. “Some of the most reliable customers have used the drive-thru to pick up meals, and for some of these customers, they have only gotten drive-thru or deliveries since the first shut down by the state in March.

Because of healthy delivery and drive-thru business, MuleKick could still do 30-percent of its regular business after the spring closings.

“This was compared to other places where it didn’t make sense to stay open,” she said. “COVID training is something MuleKick has implemented, and the staff was required to watch videos about correctly serving food and drinks. One of the training aspects is that each time a customer needs a refill, they bring them a fresh glass of their beverage.”

“MuleKick opened its doors in 2019, and the pandemic has been a big part of that,” she said. “We’ve spent as much time open in a pandemic as we have operating not in a pandemic. It’s easy to accept the new norm because we were new. MuleKick is all about the exceptional atmosphere, and except for having to wear a mask, our interaction with the customer has not changed.”

Spring Fever

Recently, there has been a sense of lightheartedness and sunny days are busy because Ouei thinks people are having an early case of spring fever, especially after being at home so much in 2020.

“People are hungry for normal, so if we present the same friendly face and experience when they come in, that is reassuring and comforting,” she said. MuleKick also sells T-shirts, coffee cups, and other gift items with their logo.

Tomarie’s Hair Fashions

Just minutes away from MuleKick is Tomarie’s Hair Fashions, which has been in business for 64 years, and it’s the longest established salon in Magnolia. There, the owner and two stylists are continuing to face business as the pandemic continues. State order requires the shop to have no more than ten people inside, including three women who work there, said Kristin Hawkins, stylist.

Everyone must also wear a mask to enter, and employees must take their temperature and have them fill out a piece of paper to serve as a tracking sheet should COVID be introduced to the shop somehow.

Tommie Shelts, owner of Tomarie's Hair Fashions
Tommie Shelts, owner of Tomarie’s Hair Fashions

Wearing masks all day while you cut, color, perm, and style hair is a challenge because it can get very hot. Tomarie’s owner, Tommie Shelts, said it is challenging.

“I don’t like wearing masks, but I do it for my customers’ safety,” she said. “I will be thankful when I don’t have to wear it anymore.”

When businesses, including salons, were closed by the state last March, Shelts’ staff were lucky because she had been paying unemployment on them for years, so they did have some income coming in.

“It was absolutely the first time any of us have ever had to draw it,” said Carolyn Yates, stylist. “I’m 72, and this was the first time I had to draw unemployment. The process of getting on unemployment was frustrating. It was not easy, and I did not like it.”

Several customers at Tomarie’s are elderly and have not been able to come back yet as their health is compromised. That has taken its toll on earnings.

“My personal income is probably about half of what it was before COVID. It’s that drastic of a difference,” Yates said. “But I would still rather be here than drawing unemployment.”

The Bright Side

Those customers who do have compromised health and come to the salon anyway are often one of the only places they get to go and visit others. Yates said she kept the Christmas tree up to make customers smile. Instead, she turned it into a colorful Mardi Gras celebration tree. She even brought some of her New Orleans souvenir beads.

“Making the people who come in feel happy is more important now than ever,” said Yates, who recently cooked a peanut butter and chocolate cake for all clients. “I have clients who call me, and they are in tears because they are afraid to leave their house. Others can’t stay away. We try to be very careful and clean everything, and we’ve had to change our habits a lot. I think our attitude is important.”

In addition to safety measures around the shop, the three employees of Tomarie’s attempt to do their best not to go many places.

“This year, I didn’t go to the stores for Christmas, and I didn’t see my sister and children for the holidays. We are limiting how many people we see when we are not here. We shop at times that are not crowded, which is early in the morning and not on the weekend.”

Farmers Bank & Trust stands ready to help you or your business with impacts from COVID-19. View COVID-19 resources online, here.

A woman named Missy stood out in front of a Wal-Mart in Texarkana about a year and a half ago with all her possessions next to her feet. She felt lost and afraid in a city where she knew only one person. He had physically and verbally abused her and taken drugs. Finally, the abuse just turned into what she called a “snowball progression.”

When she moved to be with him from Palestine, TX, she didn’t know about his drug abuse. “I didn’t realize he was using, and I did not want to be part of that life,” she said. She stayed with him for eight months with her back against the wall as he warned her she could not leave. praying hands

One day he finally did allow her to go if she promised she would not call the police. She thought about going to the local shelter, but she knew that would be too close. She needed to escape to a town further away. So, she called Compassion’s Foundation, Inc. in Magnolia, AR. When she called, she was told she would need to get a ride to the facility, and then they could help her. A tender-hearted older woman saw Missy’s desperate situation and decided to help her by giving her a ride to Magnolia. “God, intervened. I know I looked like I was in dire straights with the few bags that I had outside of Wal-Mart,” she said.

The first couple of weeks at the shelter, Missy said she mostly just slept and recuperated. The women there were kind and asked if she would like to go to church services, but she said couldn’t. “I just wasn’t trying to hear that yet,” she said. What she found particularly nice about the shelter was how much the community supports it. By donating clothing, the community truly makes a difference for women who need these items. “We were freely able to get something to go look for a job or to go to church in,” she said. Donations from the community also paid for prescriptions women needed while in the shelter and even sometimes beyond. “He had broken my false teeth, and I was pretty sure this was going to hurt my chances of getting a job,” she said. “Somehow, a Texarkana dentist fixed them. The money got donated, or he did it. I don’t know.”

As soon as she had her teeth, Missy was ready to work and began at a local restaurant for five months. But she had her hopes set on a job at another local company where she could make a better living. Her hopes became a blessing when she received a job at that company.

She said she doesn’t know what she would have done without the Compassion’s Foundation, Inc. and the great gift they gave her of starting over. “If I was stuck at Wal-Mart, I don’t know what I would have done. I probably would have ended up in another relationship,” she said. “The advocates were supportive, and they knew what I was doing. It was kind of like a family there. I mean, they are strict, and they have rules, but that is so people don’t take advantage.” Missy said she knows the statistics for women going back to their abuser are high, so the advocates work with the clients and teach them independence. “I don’t want to be dependent on anyone again,” she said.

Another aspect of her new life is her church home, which she considers her second family. She also has taken on a second job at a local restaurant since they provided her a job during a temporary lay-off. “I figure it’s the right thing to do because it wouldn’t be right for them to train me only to work here a few months,” she said.

clothesThe gifts she first received at Compassion’s Foundation, Inc. are things she never will forget. Gifts were donated from surrounding businesses for holidays and a whole closet of toys for the children living there. She said they have a big clothes basket donated by the college students with everything a woman would want, from personal items to hygiene items to snacks. Picking out clothes for a job was incredibly easy because the shelter had things separated by size, she said. “From your underwear to the jacket you might need, they had it,” she said. “And I thoroughly enjoyed being there.”

For last year’s Christmas, Missy remembers an advocate inviting the clients to their home for a lovely meal. While the meal was beautiful, Missy said she was just glad the shelter made her safe. “I would have been ok staying at the shelter eating a ham sandwich than being in an abusive relationship,” she said. “They were so family-oriented. They would not let me feel like I was doing without.”

Missy wants everyone who reads her story to know that help is out there if they are in an abusive situation. She no longer feels worthless as she did when she was in the relationship. She encourages those in and around Magnolia to choose Compassion’s Foundation, Inc. for help. “It’s very humbling to have someone help you,” she said. “If people could get around the fear of change, they could get around being mentally and physically abused.”

To learn more about Compassion’s Foundation, Inc. in Magnolia, AR, please visit this link or call (870) 235-1414.

L to R: Jake, Mike, Olivia, and Casey Souter Munn

Many of us have heard of some people leaving their Christmas tree up all year long, but have you ever heard of someone having over 100 trees inside their house? In Magnolia, AR, Casey Souter Munn admits she is a Christmas season fanatic.

Ever-Expanding Collection

It all began about 12 years ago.

“I started out with two trees, then I would add two more trees then got two more,” she said about her ever-expanding collection.

Munn, a secretary at Central Elementary in Magnolia, loves to make children smile with the whimsical seasonal clothing she wears every day in December. During her interview for this story, she was wearing a t-shirt that read “My favorite color is Christmas lights.” She jokingly refers to herself as the Crazy Christmas Lady. A big reason why she chooses to go all out for the holiday is to put smiles on other people’s faces.

“It’s such a joyful time. I love all my trees,” Munn said. “They can turn a bad day around in a heartbeat,” she said.

Decorating the trees has turned into a memorable time full of family tradition. Her husband, Mike, just sits back and grins as his wife shows off her collection. Her son, Jake, 18, helps get all the boxes down from the attic and her daughter, Olivia, 16, helps to fluff the branches so they can be decorated.

“They love everything Christmas. It’s such an important time, and it’s supposed to be magical,” she said.

Non-Traditional Themes

 

To make things interesting, Munn has 19 of her trees decorated to a specific theme. To name a few, there’s a family tree, a frou-frou tree, a red and black tree to support the Magnolia Panthers, an owl tree, a cowboy tree complete with turkey feathers and her son’s first cowboy hat, a Mardi Gras tree that stays up through February, a music tree, a butterfly tree in memory of a little girl, and a beach tree that’s full of treasures the family brought back from Florida, Hawaii, and California.

She even has a tree to celebrate her second favorite holiday – Halloween. It’s black and topped with an orange witch’s hat and other spooky ornaments like rubber snakes.

Continuing a Legacy

Hand-crocheted snowflakes adorn a small tree in honor of her late mother.

“My mother also loved Christmas,” Munn said. “I try to continue her legacy.”

Her mother passed away about 20 years ago. The church-themed tree in the living room is where her memory lives on. Large pinecones that belonged to her hang alongside glittery church steeples.

“My mom got them from a pine tree in my Granny Smith’s yard in Taylor many years ago and spray painted some gold,” she explained. “I keep them out in a basket year-round.”

She also honors her mother by hanging snowflake ornaments she hand-crocheted more than 40 years ago.

“Oh, I just love having little parts of her around here,” Munn said. “She has been gone so long, so to have any piece of her at Christmas is wonderful. It makes it feel a little more like she’s here with me.”

Surprisingly, when Munn was growing up, there was only one tree in the family home. It was a real one chopped down from the woods and brought inside to decorate for the memories.

Dumpster Diving

Munn poses next to her 9-foot dumpster dive treasure, which she has now turned into the “deer tree.”

One of her more proud moments is the largest tree in her home. It’s nine-feet tall, and it’s one that she didn’t have to purchase. The only thing it cost her was some pride to dive into a dumpster near the school to rescue it.

“I said, I’m going into the dumpster to get my tree,” she laughed. “I have no idea why someone threw it away, but I’m sure glad they did!”

Luckily, she said it was still in its cardboard box and the lights worked.

“If you were to buy this tree at Hobby Lobby, it would be anywhere from $300 to $500,” she said.

Her husband joked about his petite wife crawling into the dumpster to add to her collection.

“She would have been tickled to death if it would have been an 11-foot,” Mike Munn said.

Ornaments Tell a Story

Themed trees line the windows of her home. From left to right is the beach tree, the frou-frou tree, and the old truck tree.

When asked if she has ever gotten rid of any ornaments because of their age or condition, Munn says absolutely not.

“Oh no, no, no, no, no,” she said. “I have every ornament I’ve ever had in my whole life because every ornament tells a story of some little time of your life.”

Although many of the trees in her home are six-foot, four-foot, and even three-foot, the 10-inch trees in the living room arranged together are also a part of the grand total of 102.

She said she almost didn’t put up the famous collection of trees this year because she was exhausted after recovering from the coronavirus. Her children encouraged her to keep the tradition alive. She said she’s thankful she went ahead and did it. Her home always tends to draw people in with the twinkling of lights and abundance of holiday magic in the air.

“It’s so joyful and it makes me happy,” she said. “I love all my trees!”

When it is time to put them up for the season, Munn relies on the fact that she is “one of the most organized people in the world” to get her seasonal treasures stored until they are brought out again to sparkle and shine once again.

When you turn onto Regency Circle in Magnolia, Arkansas, and drive slowly around a curve, your eyes dart left and right and you may begin to quiver.

A rusted old truck with internal strobe lights flashing looks like it is driven by the infamous Michael Myers of the “Halloween” movies. Standing not too far from the truck, Pennywise, from Stephen King’s books and movies “It,” grips his red balloon. Those who know the grisly clown likes to take in victims in the sewer drain will notice a blue light illuminating the dark way down.

For the past 10 years, Matt Bane has gone what he calls “extreme” with his three-sided lawn on #9 Regency Circle drawing the interest of the community throughout October, and especially on Halloween night when treats are given away.

A Family Tradition

Matt Bane and his girlfriend, Kodi Rabb

Bane said he began decorating for Halloween in such a big way after growing up with his parents, Marie and Tinker Bane, who decorated all of Bane’s childhood. Nowadays, his parents who live across the street help him hand out entire Hershey bars the night of Halloween. Bane can get an idea of how many people come by judging by the number of candy bars given out.

“Last year we had about 700 or 800 candy bars and when we ran out, we gave out regular candy,” he said.

Kids Love It

But not everyone waits until Halloween to take part in the fun at the yard covered in orange and purple lights with a projector showing hands trying to get out of the window like zombies. Vanessa Sneed who lives on nearby Fox Run said she takes her daughter, Melyna Sneed, 2, there for a walk almost every night. Wrapped up in a tiny pink coat, Melyna took all the creatures in the yard in and looked at the cemetery, which was on her eye level, for several moments before continuing her walk.

“She loves it,” Vanessa said. “She’s not scared.”

Each year Bane adds new elements to his display depending on what he can find in stores or sometimes what friends donate to him. This year, the largest addition is a 12-foot skeleton who reigns over the yard near the cemetery lit up by jack-o-lanterns and even a Beetlejuice grave illuminated with a white arrow pointing to the shady ghost’s grave.

With all the lighted displays, two outdoor projectors for family-friendly Halloween movies, and the blow-up elements in the yard, it takes about 15 minutes to turn everything on each night. Bane and his girlfriend, Kodi Rabb, began putting up the massive display the last week of September so it to would be ready for October viewing.

Rabb said she knows her children Coi, 3, and Oaklie, 5, enjoy the display as well as Bane’s children, Jagger, 4, and Chris, 9.

“Oh, they love it, and they love seeing everyone come by,” Rabb said. “We do this to make all the kids happy.”

Smoke machines are other elements that add to the creepiness of the yard, lingering over the cemetery. Other familiar blow-ups are from “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” including Oogie Boogie, Jack Skellington, and Zero, the dog.

Safety First

Out of a precaution due to COVID-19, this year’s display is not as decked out in decorations as in year’s past. Candy will be given away at the end of the driveway. Bane said he has talked to city officials and they would be putting up signs for cars to travel one way through the display.

Halloween will be the big night for the display of course, but some residents couldn’t help but come and get an up-close look before then. Todd Bergeron took his two children up to the yellow do-not cross tape to take a peek into the yard.

“We saw this on Facebook and wanted to come over,” Bergeron said. “They love it!” 

If you’re unable to make it out to see his decorations for Halloween, Bane is known to go all out when decorating for Christmas too, so keep your eyes peeled.

Sixth-grader Tatum Carter of Magnolia, Arkansas is into showing sheep and goats, and she doesn’t mind getting dirty doing it.

But the show world is an expensive one and with four sheep and four goats to care for, she has become no stranger to business adding entrepreneur to her list of accomplishments by creating Tatum’s Tasty Treats. The business, operating under that name on Facebook, allows Tatum to sell a variety of pies, cakes, and chocolate chip cookie bars by receiving orders and selling them by displaying pictures of her baked goodies.

It’s all in an effort to support her goats Bernard, Saltine, Cheddar, and Juanita. Her sheep are named Reba, Kenny Rogers, Dolly, and Big Mac. With these guys and girls, she hopes to win buckles, banners, ribbons, and even money sometimes. She and her dad, Micah Carter, a pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in Magnolia, try to make all local shows and go out of state as often as possible. Showings leading up to state fairs are considered the season ball games and playoffs, but the state fair is considered the super bowl of showing animals.

Tatum’s business is a result of COVID-19 and being stuck in the house with time, her imagination, and her small yet capable hands.

“I always liked baking, but I really wanted to start baking since the quarantine,” Tatum, 11, said.

She claims she has watched the Food Network show “Kids Baking Championship,” and YouTube cooking series featuring baker Rosanna Pansino but she mostly taught herself through trial and error. She said her mom Julie Carter is a good cook, but she isn’t much into baking.

Tatum said some recipes taste good the first time she makes them, but the success of others remains elusive.

“The brownie truffles were just a hot mess,” she said. 

Tatum’s father said he wasn’t sure if it was the quarantine causing the burst of orders, but he was awfully proud of what his daughter was doing.

“It just blew up,” Carter said. “There were 500 likes on (Facebook) in one night.”

Some of the specialty treats Tatum makes are vanilla pound cake, lemon and blueberry pound cake, miniature lemon and strawberry pies, and ice cream pies. She has even jumped into making birthday cakes with buttercream icing.

The Big Purchase

Tatum’s first large amount of money she earned was $1,800, and it went toward the purchase of a treadmill so the goats and sheep could get some exercise. The treadmill is long and has sides as tall as the animals, so they’re able to walk a straight path without getting sidetracked.

“Tatum’s show animals are much like athletes,” her mother shared on Facebook. “The harder they train, the better they are, and the better she will do with them. Treadmill work is part of the process. I can’t tell you how proud she is to have this.”

The orders have slowed down now that school has reopened. Carter said that was a good thing because his daughter is still a child and needed a break. He said during the busiest days at the beginning of the business she would wake up baking and the oven would not be turned off until 9 o’clock at night.

Tatum said she’s thankful for the support she has received during her new business venture and showing her animals. Robert McDonald of Southern Title & Closing in Magnolia gave Tatum her first big corporate order. She said McDonald and his wife, Kristal, also gave her tips on showing goats.

Carter said the family is grateful for Mike and Karon Reynolds of Pin Oak Club Lambs in Greenbrier, Arkansas who were also instrumental in helping Tatum learn about showing sheep.

Carter said he is certainly proud that his daughter is helping pay for the high cost of showing which includes feed, hay, and immunizations which must be given often to prevent the animals from getting sick as they are prone to in muggy Arkansas weather.

“I’m proud of the lessons she has learned from running her own business, making her own money, and buying her own equipment,” he said.

Tatum has gathered quite the array of awards for showing livestock but ask anyone in Magnolia who has purchased one of her “tasty treats” and they’d tell you her baking skills deserve an award too.