0525 Magnolia Fest tree LEAD ART.jpg

From left, Pack 141 Cub Scouts Cotton Woitesek, Houston Argo, and Henry Berryhill finish planting a Magnolia tree on the Latimer Lake Park grounds in Horn Lake. The tree, planted at the beginning of this weekend’s Magnolia Fest, is dedicated to the late Horn Lake Public Works Director Spencer “Penny” Shields. The tree planting will become an annual event to start the Magnolia Fest.  

This week, Latimer Lakes Park in Horn Lake has become more than just a place for a walk, run, play ball, and do all the recreational things the park has to offer. 

The city’s center of recreation this week has also become the focal point of entertainment, as the sixth annual Magnolia Fest has been held at the park.

PBJ Happee Day Shows of Marion, Arkansas has provided a carnival atmosphere with rides and the annual festival has attracted people of all ages to meet and have a great time.

Most people likely were unaware, but while the Ferris Wheel, Merry Go Round and kiddie train rides were running, three young Tiger Cubs from Hernando-based Pack 141 were starting a new tradition to start the annual festival.

Wednesday evening, the three put shovel to dirt and within moments had successfully planted a small Magnolia tree in the park near the Horn Lake Parks and Recreation Department’s headquarters office.

Pack leader Derrill Argo Jr., who also serves as promoter for Magnolia Fest, said one of the reasons for the tree planting was that it helped the Tiger Cubs with their Scouting requirements.

“This is the Magnolia Fest and we have some beautiful Magnolia trees that greet the entrances to the park, but we thought it would be great to put one here near the staging area of the Magnolia Fest and to have these Scouts do the honors,” Argo said. “It’s a requirement for their Scouting and they are also serving the community.”

But, Argo added a more important reason for the action centered on honoring Horn Lake Public Works Director Spencer “Penny” Shields, who last month passed away.

“Anybody who is from Horn Lake and who has spent any time in Horn Lake knows what a great guy he was, how he served the community,” Argo explained. “It’s an absolute honor to have this first tree for Magnolia Fest dedicated to him.”

It will be the first of what will be many Magnolia trees that will populate the park in the future. Plans are to start each year’s festival with a subsequent Magnolia tree being planted in Latimer Lakes Park.

Parks and Recreation Director Larry Calvert said dedicating the tree to Shields represents recognition of a man who deeply cared about the city he worked for beyond his daily job responsibilities.

“He was always willing to volunteer to help anytime he could assist the park in any way that he could at the drop of the hat,” Calvert said. “I think it’s only right that we honor him here, have it near the front here and have it become a focal point here.”

Saturday is the final day for this year’s Magnolia Fest with activities continuing through midnight. Admission and parking at the park is free and there will be live music, arts and craft vendors on hand, along with the carnival and midway. A $20 wrist band provides unlimited rides on the midway.

While all the action goes on in the park this weekend, a young Magnolia sapling will begin its upwards growth representing the city, the Magnolia State, and a man who cared for his community, Spencer “Penny” Shields.

“Anytime you can plant trees and get our youth involved, I think it’s exactly what we need to do and teach them have a bright future,” said Calvert. “It’s never too early for them to learn how to plant trees.”

Bob Bakken is Managing Editor for the DeSoto Times-Tribune.

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