By Crystal Burns
A beloved couple has been selected as grand marshals for the Doodle Soup Days Parade to be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 28 in Bradford.
Landon and Ruby Hampton owned and operated the famous Skullbone Store for 55 years before retiring in March. It isn’t the first time the couple has been asked to serve as grand marshals, but they declined previous offers to keep their store open on parade day.
“It was finally time for them to do it,” said Shannon Barton, a Doodle Soup Days Committee member.
Over the years, the Hamptons provided grocery items, dry goods, cold cut sandwiches, soft drinks and gasoline (until 1998) to families and farmers in the small community. They bought Dowland’s Store in January of 1964, never imagining it would provide their livelihoods. When the couple celebrated their golden anniversary at the store in 2014, Ruby said, “We thought we would work one or two years here and then get real jobs.”
She grew up in the Riverside community near Dyer, while Landon was raised in Skullbone. They both attended Bradford school, graduating in 1956. They got married and moved to Chicago to find work and start a family. Landon’s father called a few years later to tell his son that Dowland’s Store was for sale.
Clipper Dowland built the landmark store in 1948, painting the unique artwork on the exterior. It includes a partial map that declares Skullbone as the Kingdom of Skullbonia. Two bare-knuckle fighters are pictured.
Dowland promoted Skullbone all over the world, and throughout their five decades of ownership, the Hamptons entertained international visitors and folks from across the country.
Landon and Ruby have two children, Rene (the late Mike) Arrington and Mark (Delana) Hampton four grandchildren, Gentry (Allie) Hampton, Grant Hampton, Tyler (Worthy) Arringon and Jessie (Zac) Keymon, and one great grandchild, Oliver Keymon.
The 19th Annual Doodle Soup Days festival kicks off Tuesday, Sept. 24 with a new event – a free community chicken dinner sponsored by Tyson Foods of Humboldt and Carroll Bank & Trust at the new Bradford Community Center at 5 p.m. Tyson Foods will cook the chicken, and Carroll Bank & Trust will provide the trimmings.
Other new events include a mud volleyball tournament Thursday, Sept. 26 beginning at 4 p.m. and the Memphis Songwriters Association performance Friday, Sept. 27 at 6:30 p.m. and TIWF Wrestling at 7:30 p.m. All events will be at the park.
The acclaimed Bethel University Renaissance Choir will perform at the Community Church Service Wednesday, Sept. 25 at 7 p.m. at First Baptist Church in Bradford. There is no admission charge, but a love offering will be taken. The Renaissance Choir performs a variety of music, ranging from praise and worship to classical.
Saturday’s music schedule should look familiar. Last year, all three acts were scheduled to play the festival, but the concert was rained out. Doodle Soup Days organizers were able to book all three for this year on the spot.
The Buzz Kings will open the show Sept. 28 at 6 p.m. on the main stage at the park. The popular West Tennessee band features Buzz Blackburn on bass and vocals, Joe Wallace on guitar and vocals, Brian Bain on organ and guitar, Sid Barton on drums and vocals, and Cory Bridges on saxophone and keys.
Mic Harrison and The High Score take the stage at 7:30. Harrison is a Bradford native who moved to Knoxville in the 90s to become co-lead singer/songwriter of The V-Roys. After playing with other top bands, Harrison established The High Score, and they’ve been touring for the past 12 years.
Resurrection – A Journey Tribute will begin their set at 9 p.m. The band features Ryan Christopher on lead vocals, Vic White on keyboard and vocals, Jim Handley on drums, Steve Sheroan on lead guitar and vocals and Ben King on bass and vocals. All are accomplishment musicians who have spent countless hours creating the most authentic Journey experience.
There is no admission charge. Bring lawn chairs, and remember that alcoholic beverages are prohibited.
For a full schedule of events, visit doodlesoupdays.com or look for brochures in local businesses.