Taking Park 

On any given weekend, people might be flying kites or riding horses at Shelby Farms Park. Last weekend, however, they were singing, dancing, hay riding, hot air ballooning, and even riding a trolley at the Second Annual Gotta Have Park Festival.

"We have a lot of things we added this year," said festival chair Carol Watkins. One of those was something Watkins felt passionately about -- a trolley tour through the 4,500-acre park.

"There are so many interesting areas in Shelby Farms Park," Watkins said, "but most people -- even the people who come here often -- usually go to a particular area. The fishermen go to the lakes they like; the runners go to the area near Patriot Lake."

Festival organizers also invited what they call Shelby Farms partners, the groups and associations that often use the park, such as the Mid-South Fly Fishers Association, to participate.

"The Equestrian Alliance -- the horse people -- they use Shelby Farms. Birders use the park. A huge group that utilizes the park are the dog people," said Watkins. "We wanted to be as inclusive as possible with the festival and the specific groups that utilize the park." Thus the festival included a "yappy hour" with a Halloween costume contest, a Frisbee throw, and other activities for dogs and their humans.

The festival also included an artist's market, a children's area, and main and community stages for artists such as Nancy Apple, FreeWorld, and Para Los Ninos dancers (pictured below).

"We wanted to introduce to the community at large all the things people can do in all the different areas of Shelby Farms Park and how they can utilize it for their benefit," Watkins said. "Frankly, they're already paying for it."

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