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Surgoinsville Riverfront Festival's horseshoe games dedicated to an all-time great

Jeff Bobo • Aug 30, 2018 at 7:00 PM

SURGOINSVILLE — The Saturday morning Horseshoe tournament is always a big part of the annual Surgoinsville Riverfront Festival, but this year the games will be minus one of the town's favorite sons.

Willard Williams Sr., who passed away June 27 at the age of 87, was one of the greatest horseshoe pitchers of all time.

He was a member of the National Horseshoe Pitching Association, he won the World Championship in 2005, and he was inducted into the Horseshoe Hall of Fame in 2006.

This year's Surgoinsville Riverfront Festival Horseshoe Tournament, which begins Saturday at 10 a.m. at Riverfront Park, is dedicated to the memory of Williams.

As always, a big crowd is expected, and players are advised to arrive no later than 9:30 a.m. Saturday to get registered.

But horseshoes won't be the only show in town for this year's festival.

The two-day event begins at 4 p.m. at Riverfront Park with the annual block party, the star of which will be free hot dogs, chips and drinks while supplies last courtesy of Dairy Mart.

Pianist and singer Fran Howard, a festival favorite, will perform at 4 p.m. Friday until the parade begins at 6 p.m.

The parade through downtown ends at the park, where Brian Burchfield will perform at 6:30 p.m., followed by Marissa Rogers and Diamonds at 7:30 p.m. and Lorne Jones at 8:30 p.m.

On Friday and Saturday there will be free inflatable bouncy attractions for the kids, as well as free train rides, free hay rides and a variety of food vendors.

Southern States Wrestling will also sanction bouts at the park on both nights beginning at 7:30 p.m. featuring special guests Don Wright and Wayne Rogers, who will be available for photos and autographs.

Although the horseshoe tournament begins at 10 a.m. Saturday, the actual festival doesn't open until noon. Among Saturday's attractions are a car show and tractor show, as well as prize drawings throughout the day.

Festival grand marshal Mark Skelton, an attorney who organizes local running competitions, will be honored during a ceremony at 3 p.m., followed by a Boy Scout flag retirement ceremony. Anyone who wants their U.S. flag properly retired is invited to bring it to the park prior to 3 p.m. Saturday.

Live music begins at 4 p.m. Saturday with Fran Howard on stage, followed by the Anderson Family at 5:30 p.m., John Brown and the Wild Beans at 7 p.m. and Tennessee Skyline at 8:30 p.m.

The festival concludes Saturday with a fireworks display at 10 p.m.

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