Rains once again spoil event; community fire chief, others
honored at annual fly-in, camp-out event
By ANN Contributor Christine Weiss
Never was an event more true to its theme than Holleyfest 2004.
The sixth annual “fly-in/camp-out” community open house
and pilot's block party, dedicated this year to the proposition of
being a “good neighbor,” took flight as scheduled
October 8 and 9 at Holley Mountain Airpark, near Clinton (AK).
There was one hitch, however. There were no planes.
Prepped to accommodate 1,000 to 1,200 aviation enthusiasts, with
over 250 pilots pre-registered for the FAA Wings Safety Program,
the skies spilled over with rain all weekend. The campfire circle,
planned for Friday night turned into a lake and the FAA Temporary
Control Tower guys joked about landing planes with pontoons.
Frosting the ironic cake, this was the second year in a row that
the annual event succumbed to stormy weather. “In 2003, we at
least had a forecast for clear skies for Sunday and were able to
carry things over,” said Jim Collom, Airpark developer and
president of the AR01 Chapter of the United States Pilots
Association. “But this year, the front stalled right over us
and showed no signs of relief.”
Still, over the course of the weekend, roughly 200 aviation
enthusiasts arrived by ground and one pilot did fly in for the
event. He landed on Thursday. Friday night festivities, moved
indoors to Jim & JoAnn Collom's hangar, featured an evening of
music, tall tales, good food, camaraderie and fun.
Clarence Phillips sang "Among the Stars and Cedar Trees," a poem
written by James Harness, set to music by Joe Tebo, and performed
at Holleyfest by the Lost Creek Band, featuring Alan Rolen, lead
guitarist, and several members of the Rolen family.
Harness was born in 1934 to Holley Mountain during an era when
home-birthed babes grew to strong, young adults and nary set foot
out of the Ozark meadows and woods. Where airplanes now land at
Holley Mountain Airpark, mule-drawn plows and long days of
sun-drenched cultivating harvested table crops that, with diligent
preserving, were sufficient to keep a family well fed.
Recollections of this labor-intensive yet heavenly quality of
family life and its soul-satisfying rewards inspired James to write
the poem “Among the Stars and Cedar Trees.”
The comedic wit of Kathy Boone. who serves as Postmaster in
Choctaw, brought peals of laughter from the crowd as she portrayed
a sullied woman, castigating John Hastings of Clinton Cable for
“two-timing her with his wife...!!!”
A cadre of local celebs mixed and mingled, including Jim
Burnett, past chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board,
and Sid King, of KGFL/KHPQ Radio. King regaled the crowd with his
first-hand account of the Damascus Missile Silo Crisis and Titan II
Missile Explosion. "I figured my Dodge Omni would outrun a nuclear
blast," he chuckled with hindsight, while acknowledging that the
incident was both frightening and tragic for all involved.
Saturday dawned with more of the same and found Holleyfest
Planners busily moving festivities indoors. A hardy array of
vendors and exhibitors, including Patti Allen of Quilt In Time and
KD BBQ, set up shop and opened for business as folks gathered
'round in the Collom hangar, ready for the pilot education
As dewdrops persisted, immersing the pastoral mountaintop in a
misty aura of iridescent haze, Holleyfest co-coordinator Joe
Marshall welcomed participants to the aviation safety program.
Joseph Calamita of JBR AFSS and Jerry Chism, Assistant Director
of the Arkansas Aeronautics Board, reviewed the aviation safety and
support services provided by their respective organizations. Caleb
Rice of the FAA facilitated the Wings Safety Program.
Concluding the morning agenda, the VFW District 6 Ladies
Auxiliary Color Guard presented and posted the colors, followed in
succession by the event dedication, invocation and lunch.
Jim & JoAnn Collom, developers of Holley Mountain Airpark,
accompanied by granddaughter Katelyn and her friend, greeted
Airpark visitors, thanked a long list of volunteers, introduced key
personnel, and welcomed everyone to the event. The keynote address
was given by community leader, environmental activist, former Mayor
of the city of Clinton and past Confidential Assistant to the Chief
of Natural Resources Conservation Service of the United States
Department of Agriculture, Don Richardson.
Among those acknowledged by Jim Collom in his introductory
remarks was his brother, Bill, who joined the Airpark staff as
Office Manager earlier this year. "He came in and helped at a
needed time," Jim said.
"Myself, Bill and our sister Linda, who now resides in
Wisconsin, grew up in a home without a lot of the finer things of
life," Jim Collom recalled. "However we did have the most important
thing, and that was unconditional love from both of our parents,
along with the teachings to be honest, kind and believe in self and
what you do."
Collom also gave special thanks to Billy Linn, Clarence
Phillips, Christine Weiss, J.F. & Cheryl Williams, and to the
"numerous Holley Mountain volunteers that provided hours and hours
of service under the direction of our coordinators this year, John
Oakland and Joe Marshall."
Collom additionally praised "the many employees of the Federal
Aviation Administration who descend upon Van Buren County this one
weekend a year, from around the state,” to provide their
aviation safety and education services. "Without all of these
people," Collom lauded, "we would not be here today. This event
would not be possible but for the many hours of their relentless
Collom described the many changes that have come to the Airpark
since January of 1999, when the now blacktopped 2A2 runway was a
"long 100 ft wide muddy thing running thru our property" and he
woke up many mornings asking himself: "What have you done this
"We started this Airpark dream with the attitude that it would
be the BEST or it wouldn’t happen!" Collom reminisced. "JoAnn
& I both believed in what this place is to become. You notice I
said 'Is to become,' because we are far from completing all the
goals we set for Holley Mountain Airpark!"
Collom spoke with admiration for the "first handful of residents
that trusted us. You know who you are," he elaborated. "You are the
guys that didn’t even have a road to your properties, only
BIG piles of brush in your way, when you bought in. We’ve
come a long way together," Collom acknowledged, also sharing
accolades with the banking professionals who believed in the dream
and backed the project financially.
"Thank you for making the choice to join our Airpark Family,"
Collom concluded his introductory remarks. "We love you all for
choosing to fulfill your life’s dreams on this Mountain. We
hope you will find this to be your most rewarding investment in the
enjoyment of life."
"We are here for another important dedication today," Collom
addressed a focal recognition of this year's Holleyfest. Citing the
coincidence of Holleyfest being held during National Fire
Prevention Week, he said it made the tribute of naming the Holley
Mountain Airpark Fire Department's fire station in honor of Dan
Davison, the First Fire Chief of Atlanta, Texas, doubly
"This is a way we can give back to someone who, though not
immediate family, had a profound impact on my life and the lives of
others," Collom revered.
Calling Mary Beth Davison-James and Danny Clayton to the podium,
Collom thanked the former Fire Chief's family for making the trip
from their home in Shreveport, Louisiana, to personally accept this
tribute of appreciation. As Bill Collom awarded each recipient an
Airpark lapel pin, Jim Collom recounted his long association with
Fire Chief Dan. "A long time ago -- longer than I want to admit --
when Danny was riding tricycles in the engine room at the old fire
station, I was a young fireman in our hometown of Atlanta, Texas,
under Mary Beth’s dad and Danny’s grandfather, Fire
Chief Dan Davison," Collom told.
"Dan was a true leader! Dan was the same Dan, every day! He was
the type of man this world needs many more of today! He was a Great
Mentor to many, many young men throughout the years of his
un-relented community service to our little hometown. His record of
Chief spanned for nearly twenty three years -- from early 1951
until 1973. Twenty three years," Collom exclaimed. "How many Fire
Chiefs do we know that stay twenty three years at any city
department? And, if his health would have let him, he would have
been there today.”
"Unfortunately, Dan passed away in 1975," Collom continued. "But
the training, guidance and confidence he gave me remains a part of
my life, today." Collom's unabashed expression of reverence,
offered with obvious affection and high regard, rippled through the
Holleyfest gathering with the powerful warmth of a brotherly
"We at Holley Mountain Airpark are honored and happy to honor
our beloved friend, Fire Chief Dan Davison, and to present you,
Mary Beth and Danny, a plaque in memoriam of his legacy to the
people's lives he touched along the way, by naming the Holley
Mountain Airpark Fire Department facility in his name, The Dan
Davison Emergency Center."
"Provide what you say you will," Jim Collom, concluding the 6th
annual Holleyfest agenda, summed-up his ethic for life. "Do what is
expected of you. Be loyal to family. Be loyal to your friends and
neighbors. If you do that, you will enjoy the friendships of them
all. You will be a good neighbor and be living a very good