Pusser Fest Walks On

Andrew Alexander

Pusser Fest Walks On

Local Law Enforcement Officer of the Year, Ricky Howell, left, poses with National Law Enforcement Officer of the Year, Mike Neal, right, and Dwana Pusser-Garrison.

Adamsville Police Department’s Ricky “Pee-Wee” Howell was named 2011’s Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Saturday at the 23rd Annual Buford Pusser Festival in Adamsville.

Howell was awarded due to his diligence on the job during a routine patrol on Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2010, which led to an arrest.

 Officer Howell was patrolling businesses in Adamsville when he came in contact with a man sleeping in his vehicle.

Howell sent the man to rest at the park, but had also ran the man’s out-of-state license plate information, and the report yielded evidence of the man’s participation in a double homicide in which the perpetrator had killed both of his parents, according to statements during the presentation.

Officer Howell called in for backup before approaching and arresting the dangerous and reportedly mentally unstable man who decided to stop in a town famous for its police work.

Howell went on to thank the many individuals responsible for his success in his career, and also thanked law enforcement officials that responded to his call for backup early that morning.

“Never in a million years did I ever think we would run up on someone that had killed their mom and dad, but we did,” said Officer Howell in his acceptance speech. “Thankfully, we all went home that night.”

In closing Howell thanked residents of Adamsville for having the confidence  in the Adamsville Police Department that allows all living in the area to know they are safe when they lay their heads down at night.

“Recognizing our law enforcement officers and fallen officers is the reason we started all of this,” said Dwana Pusser-Garrison of the festival, “and it was probably one of the best festivals we’ve ever had.”

“I think it turned out wonderfully,” said Pusser-Garrison “The Lord blessed us with some great weather and I saw local folks enjoying themselves and their friends and family members.”

Apart from storms that rolled through our area late last Wednesday night, the majority of the Buford Pusser Festival was highlighted with tremendous weather conditions making it easy to enjoy the many events on the 23rd year of the festival.

The storms that caused damage in and around our county last week forced the carnival to shut down early the first night of the festival Wednesday, but the remainder of the festival’s events went off without a hitch throughout the rest of the week.

Many gathered around the pavilion at Buford Pusser Memorial Park in Adamsville Thursday night to enjoy “Music in the Park” with performances by Tommy “Elvis” Turner and Bo Jack Killingsworth and the Rockabilly Band.

A tour of historic Sheriff Buford Pusser sites around McNairy County provided by Anchor Trailways and Tours kicked off Friday’s festival activities.

Steve Sweat and Pusser-Garrison led the tour that carried curious Pusser enthusiasts to many sites of importance in Sheriff Pusser’s life, including his home in Adamsville, New Hope Church where Buford’s wife, Pauline, was killed, the state line, and the county courthouse to see the jail Buford used to house the county’s criminals.

The tour came to its conclusion in the old courtroom on the third floor of the of the courthouse with lunch and some story telling by Jack Coffman and Billy Wagoner who both knew Sheriff Pusser well.

Friday night the park was full of excited festival goers ready to see who would win this year’s Adamsville Idol.

After competitors from each age group had finished their acts judges,  Miss Tennessee 1972 Anne Galloway, this year’s Miss Walking Tall Sarah Stonier, Mary Jane Tenry, and Eva George, gathered to tally the scores from the preliminary round.

The 12 and Under category was won by Liza Smith, the 13-15 year-old age group was won by Kerri Stroud, the 16-21 year-old group was won by Sean Faulk, and the 22 and Up category was won by Amy Hollon.

Those winners then advanced to the final round of performance and judging but each contestant was awarded $25 for making it to the final round.

Sean Faulk went home with the $150 grand prize after winning the 2011 Adamsville Idol Contest by performing his rendition of “Kentucky Rain.”

Saturday’s Buford Pusser Festival events began early with the car show opening at 8A a.m. and 96 runners ready to pound some pavement at the annual 5K race that began at 8:30 a.m.

Joy Gray was the first woman to cross the finish line with a time of 23.30 minutes, and Shayne Fawcett was the men’s champion, finishing the 5K with a time of 17.44 minutes.

A parade beginning at the First Baptist Church of Adamsville made its way through town and into the park and consisted with beauty pageant winners, law enforcement officers of all kinds, and the patrol cars once driven by Sheriff Pusser himself. 

Following the parade a crowd of happy festival attendees circled around the pavilion in the park to witness the announcements of the Local and National Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Awards.

Officer Howell was presented as the 2011 Local Law Enforcement Officer of the Year before Mike Neal, a Wildlife Officer from West Memphis, Ark., responsible for terminating the escape efforts of two men responsible for killing two law enforcement officials and injuring two more in May of 2010 was honored as the National Law Enforcement Officer of the Year for 2011.

Also honored during the ceremony was McNairy County Sheriff Guy Buck, Terry Thrasher for his time spent as Adamsville City Manager, and Jai Templeton for his service to McNairy county during his terms as county mayor.

At 3 p.m. on Saturday afternoon the festival experienced some intense heat, but those present found plenty of cool beverages and other ways to beat the heat all around Buford Pusser Memorial Park.

Car show awards were also presented at this time and all 127 entries were awarded with a plaque for their participation in this year’s show before Best of Show trophies were handed out to car owners in five separate categories.

The 2011 Mayor’s Choice Winner chosen by Adamsville Mayor David Leckner was Kristie Hail and her 1963 Ford F-100.

The Buford Pusser Memorial Winner chosen by Dwana Pusser-Garrison was Steve and Barbara Pitts and their 1995 Chevrolete Z71.

Dixie and Max Chambless were given a $25 cash prize from the longest distance traveled award, journeying 233 miles from Trion, Ga., to Adamsville.

The 23rd Annual Buford Pusser Festival began to wind down around 5 p.m. Saturday as festival goers attempted to cool off and take in a little bluegrass music before the sun went down as the Clay Wagoner Memorial Bluegrass Show started with a pavilion full of people eagerly gathering around to listen.

This year’s festival culminated with SPWA Championship Wrestling in the park at 7 p.m.

Carnival rides, games, and delicious food vendors were set up in the park all throughout the week, providing fun, entertainment, and some great food for all who attended.

“The numbers were higher than ever before,” said Pusser-Garrison in regards to the festival’s turnout. “I just want to thank everyone responsible for preserving the legacy of my father, Sheriff Buford Pusser, and a special thank you to my close friend who passed away this weekend, Kay White, who was instrumental in promoting the festival in years past.”