Grab your forks and napkins — the longest Thanksgiving table in Arkansas will return Saturday to the Searcy downtown square for 2019 Beats & Eats: Gather & Give Thanks.
Marka Bennett, co-coordinator of Searcy Beats & Eats with Mat Faulkner, started the tradition of the record-breaking Thanksgiving table in 2017.
She said this 200-foot-long table will have about 200 chairs around it for community members to eat a meal and enjoy each other’s company.
“Attendees can purchase their supper at one of the five food trucks or can bring their own from home or a local restaurant and then sit down with people they know or people they’ve never seen before,” Bennett said.
Bennett said she and the rest of the Beats & Eats planning committee have carefully planned for this event in hopes of cultivating community.
“The purpose is to encourage community and connectedness, and in this third year for the longest Thanksgiving table in Arkansas, we know that some truly amazing connections are made each year,” Bennett said. “People come, sit, eat, visit, then get up to move around too.”
Apart from the long Thanksgiving table, Bennett said this year’s Thanksgiving Beats & Eats is also an opportunity to give thanks to those who serve our town and county.
“We have made stickers for all 500 employees in the city and county to wear when they come to Beats & Eats with their families so that we will know who they are and can say thank you personally to each one,” Bennett said. “Several art classes in area schools and daycares are drawing pictures and writing notes to be displayed in store windows at the event and then given to the mayor and other department heads that come. We have invited Mayor Kyle Osborne and all the department heads to the stage at 7:30 p.m. for a short ceremony of thanksgiving.”
Heather Kemper, vendor coordinator for Beats & Eats, said there will be several new features coming to this year’s Gather & Give Thanks event. Free hayrides around downtown, a book giveaway for kids, a special Christmas shopping section and Coffee for CASA will all be provided.
The Beats & Eats committee and coordinators are not just targeting the Searcy community, but students from Harding are also encouraged to attend.
“We love the energy Harding students bring to our events — we want [them] there,” Kemper said.
Kemper said Beats & Eats coupon books will be for sale, and all who buy a booklet will be entered into a drawing for a chance to win a prize basket sponsored by local restaurants and shops.
The ceremony of the Thanksgiving meal will take place between musical events — a concert from Josiah Letchworth at 6 p.m. and the local Golden Rule Band performance at 7:45 p.m.
The event will be held from 6-9 p.m. on West Arch Avenue and Citizen’s Park, located downtown. There will be opportunities to win drawings, shop for Christmas, join in community and gather to give thanks.