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<p><strong></strong>photos by TANIAH TUDOR</p><p>Keith Reinschmedt, adult organizer for 4H shooter sports in Crawford County, helps 11-year-old Gillian Steele of Mulberry line up her BB gun shot at the mobile shooting range set up at the festival.</p>
<p>Siddha Estes-Beard, 7, shows off her bulls-eye shot at the mobile shooting range.</p>
<p>Bill Brown hangs out in his 1974 Cadillac Eldorado at the car show held during the Edamame Festival.</p>
<p>Kele Estes-Beard, 10, makes his way up the National Guard climbing wall with ease.</p>
<p>Eden Green, 19 months, was one of the contestants in the Edamame Princess Pageant. She competed in the Tiny Miss Edamame category for girls ages 0-2. Eden is the daughter of Elizabeth Green (shown here) and Derek Green of Alma.</p>
<p>Bella Madden, 9, of Van Buren gets her face painted by Rachel Beam, owner of Rae Mae Designs.</p>
<p><strong></strong>Randy Tudor and his 13-month-old niece Isra Najih watch as Cindy Dunfee with the Crawford County Extension Homemakers Club makes up some edamame samples at the Edamame Experience booth on Saturday. The booth had a steady line of people waiting to try samples of chicken salad and bean salad made with edamame.</p>
<p>From left: Bob and Gene Wilkey of Kibler look over the wood-etched wares offered by Rose Combs at her booth.</p>
<p>People registered to win T-shirts, hats, scarves and jewelry, and a one-time chance for a free helicopter ride, Saturday at the Edamame Festival welcome table in Mulberry City Park. This was the first year for the festival, with an estimated 2,000-2,500 people attending.</p>
<p>Pilot Kyle Flynn takes off with a group of passengers Saturday morning at the Edamame Festival. Arkansas Helicopters LLC., owned by Camron McAhren, gave rides for $25 per person.</p>

More than 2,000 people were in Mulberry on Saturday to shop, listen to music and sample food at the city’s first Edamame Festival.

Monica Freeland with the City of Mulberry gave a “best guess” estimate of 2,000-2,500 people who attended the festival, held in Mulberry City Park from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“A little before 10 a.m. to about 2 o’clock, it was all you could do to see over a head,” Freeland said.

Attendance started to “trickle down” after 2 p.m., she said.

“The festival was beyond successful,” Freeland said. “I’m calling it phenomenal.”

By 11:30 a.m, Raymond Chung, co-owner and chief financial officer with American Vegetable Soybean and Edamame Inc., said his booth, the Edamame Experience, already had given out food samples to about 300 people.

Festival goers sampled chicken salad, bean salad and Cruncha Ma-Me, a healthy freeze-dried version of edamame that is manufactured at the AVSE plant in Mulberry, in a variety of flavors.

“I think it’s the start of something good,” Chung said. “We hope to be back here again next year.”

Freeland attributed the success of the festival in part to excellent weather and it being one of the first festivals of the season, but there were many people who came for the edamame, she said.

“For a lot of people, it was the first time they tasted it,” Freeland said.

While a majority of those at the festival were from Crawford County, many were from around the state and even the country.

Brook Beards came from Fayetteville with his girlfriend Erin Langbein and his two kids, 7-year-old Siddha Estes-Beards and 10-year-old Kele Estes-Beards.

“We heard about it and thought it would be great; it’s a sunny day, support a new event,” Beards said. “We love Mulberry.”

Langbein added that it was a “fun family thing to do.”

Besides the sampling booth, people were able to check out a selection of vendors, enjoy barbecue and roasted corn, listen to some local music, and watch the Edamame Princess pageant.

About 30 vintage cars were on view as part of a car show, while kids were able to play on a bounce around and playground equipment. Mechanical bull rides and a mobile shooting range also provided entertainment.

Aside from slower traffic and a little mud, the only complaint, Freeland said, was the lack of food choices - due in part to a vendor cancelling last minute because of health. The city plans to secure more food vendors for next year’s festival, she said.

“Everyone I talked to had a good time,” Freeland said. “It was a beautiful day and people enjoyed it with their families.”