First festival of the season 

First, don’t take the name “Maumelle Family Fest” to mean only Maumelle residents are welcome. Butch Stone, who has spent the past couple of years putting the first Maumelle festival together, says the April 21 event is for everyone in the region and will have something for youngsters and adults.

Stone’s longtime friend Jimi Jamison, the onetime lead singer of Survivor, agreed to come over from Memphis as the headliner for the first Maumelle Fest.

Music and good times will run from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Stone will have more than 100 carnival rides and games, plus a petting zoo, play area and rock wall. Radio Disney will bring its touring show. Elvis impersonator Tony Witt, Nashville-based Chosen Daughters, and local acts Josef Hedinger, the Boswells and more are scheduled for the Lake Willastein stage. Food will run the gamut, including ribs, catfish, crawfish, Mexican specialties, hot dogs and hamburgers.

It’s good to see Stone back strong in the local promotional scene, and he’s giving back to his hometown with this endeavor. It doesn’t surprise in the least that Stone wants his festival to be the first big event in the area of the year — before Toad Suck, before Riverfest. He’s already thinking about next year’s festival, while praying that rain stays away next weekend.

Tickets are $7 in advance (retail stores in Maumelle are your best bet there) or $10 at the door. Children under 7 are admitted at no charge, and parking is free. All the action is at Lake Willastein in the middle of Maumelle. Follow the signs off Maumelle Boulevard.

More news keeps trickling out from Riverfest about its music schedule, with George Clinton and Parliament now on a lineup that also includes great bluesman Keb’ Mo’, classic rocker Pat Benatar, rock band Smash Mouth and country acts Blake Shelton and Montgomery Gentry. Riverfest tickets are $10 for the three-day weekend through the website, www.riverfestarkansas.com or Harvest Foods stores.

Wait until the festival and it will cost you $15 for the weekend, which is still a steal of a price for the entertainment you’re getting.

J.R. and Henry, our sports writers who appear on the Little Rocking blog at www.arktimes.com, had chimed in on Monday’s basketball coaching hire by the University of Arkansas for this print edition, but their space went away before press time, and the column now is available on the blog. However, here are some choice nuggets from J.R. and Henry on the hiring of John Pelphrey, a week after Dana Altman had the job for about 25 hours:

“In any event, the search firm, Parker Executive Search, did its thing and less than a week and more than $90,000 later, South Alabama coach John Pelphrey was introduced as the new head coach of the Razorbacks, just like [Dana] Altman had been a week before, on a stage in front of a lowered scoreboard and small crowd inside Bud Walton Arena.

“And the first question on the mind of many Hog fans was, “Did we need to spend $90,000 on a search firm to find him?” At about $600,000 less than was promised Altman, excluding incentives that could drive Pelphrey’s annual pay up to almost $2 million, the answer is probably so. But maybe they’ll throw in an athletic director search at the end of the year for free. ...

“As for the merits of this latest hire, it’s hard to tell. Because in many ways, Pelphrey is the kind of unproven, unaccomplished coach that Razorback fans were promised would not be hired when Stan Heath was fired. ...

“In his fifth year as a head coach, Pelphrey’s record stands at a less than impressive 80-67 … It’s not exactly the kind of record that makes a high major program stand up and take notice. ...

“On paper, about the only thing going for Pelphrey is pedigree and references. He has coached under Eddie Sutton and Billy Donovan, and played under Sutton and Rick Pitino. All those coaches have offered glowing recommendations of their former pupil, something that’s certainly to be expected.

“Also, there’s the fact that he plays an up-tempo style and likes to press, traits also shared by Altman. Interestingly, both men got ovations from the Bud Walton crowd at the press conferences when they mentioned their fast-paced styles, reminiscent of Razorback fans giving a standing ovation when the football team throws downfield, whether the pass is completed or not.

“So a word of caution: Just because you play up tempo doesn’t mean you win. Nolan Richardson didn’t just roll the ball out on the court and tell his guys to play defense and score. There’s coaching that goes into it and it remains to be seen whether Pelphrey can coach on this level.”

No, I’m not J.R., or Henry. But they know their sports.


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