By ANGIE CARNATHAN
Today is the day for the first ever Rockin’ the Park festival at the Sportsplex in Starkville, an event organizers hope will become a yearly tradition.
“We are trying to provide an annual event for the community that will be fun, relaxing and entertaining at a low cost,” Starkville Parks and Recreation Director Matthew Rye said, adding they hope to be able to make the event bigger and better with each passing year.
The event begins at 3 p.m. and concludes this evening about 9 p.m.
“The weather is going to absolutely beautiful, and we know families in Starkville will be looking for something fun and affordable to do outside,” Rye said. “We want them to know that this event is everything they could possibly be looking for and more.”
The festival features youth sports competitions in both baseball and soccer, an antique car display, silly sports and inflatable jumpers for kids, a celebrity softball game with teams coached by Mayor Wiseman and Mississippi State University Athletic Director Scott Strickland, a dunking booth and an evening of live music.
“We’re excited to be participating in this first Rockin’ the Park event that Starkville Parks and Recreation is putting on,” Starkville Soccer Association President Stephen Bock said. “I think it’s going to be a great thing for the community.”
Starkville Baseball Association President Brian Evans said there are baseball activities being offered as well.
“We plan to have two competitions: throwing accuracy and batted-ball speed,” Evans said.
The youth sports competitions begin at 3 p.m. and go until 5 p.m. and are sponsored by NBA player Travis Outlaw. Rye said securing the former Starkville resident’s involvement was easy because of Outlaw’s longtime commitment and willingness to give back to his community.
Starkville High School volley ball coach Lauren Love will be doing silly sports. Love said kids of all ages are invited to visit the Silly Sports Station in the GoPlay Zone from 3 p.m. until 5 p.m. during Rockin’ the Park and enjoy non-competitive and unstructured play opportunities. Silly sports uses non-traditional equipment such as wacky bats, funny footballs, hacky sacks/footbags, hula hoops and mini beach balls to provide a silly twist to throwing, kicking, running, and jumping.
Also, the event will feature an antique car show sponsored by Southern Cruisers Car Club. Attendees will get to vote on the favorite.
“When you come in and get a ticket you’ll get an index card where you’ll be asked to vote on your favorite car,” Rye said. “Awards will be given for overall favorite, Mayor’s choice and the Starkville Parks and Recreation choice.”
The celebrity softball game’s first pitch will be thrown out by local celebrity Carol McReynolds Davis. Davis said she was thrilled to have been chosen and is looking forward to participating.
Immediately following the softball game the live music will begin with Brinley Addington and Scarletta, both country music artists out of Nashville, and a band from Alabama, C+Plus, performing dance hits and covers from the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s.
“We cannot emphasize enough that we want the entire family to come out and have a great time at this event,” Rye said.
The entry fee for Rockin’ the Park is $5. Children under 6 will be admitted free of charge.
Concessions will be available for purchase on site, and the dunking booth costs $1 for three balls.
For more information on Rockin’ the Park, visit http://www.facebook.com/starkvilleparks  and select the “Like” button or go to http://www.starkvilleparks.com/rockin-the-park/ .