Beneath her tent of (non-alcoholic) strawberry daiquiris and August 8th towels that she has been selling at the event for the past 8 years, Covington had a message on her t-shirts that she believes sums up the giant homecoming this weekend.
"Good things always happen at the Bottom," the t-shirts read above a cartoon drawing of the historically African-American neighborhood.
"As I was growing up, things were always happening at the Bottom," Covington said. "It's good we can come back, it's like a big homecoming for all of us who grew up here. It makes me happy to see that they're doing renovations around here too."
The homecoming tradition, and all the fun associated with it, was a shared joy amongst others who made the long drive home as well. For Clarence Hines of Detroit, Mich., making the long drive was the easiest part because seeing friends and family is like the light at the end of the tunnel. The hardest part, he said, is seeing the neighborhood in need of renovation.
"It still moves my heart to come down here and see how things are. Being from a big city, you come back to a small town and you can see things that are lacking," Hines said. "When you are there all the time, you accept them. We, as the adults have to be here to change those things, it is our responsibility. The ones who build that track should not be the ones to run on that track; it should be for the younger generation to enjoy."
Hines said he hopes to work with others in the future to build a community center where the youth can have sodas and mingle without getting into trouble. He said he owes it to the community.
Just down the street from Hines' family-run fish fry tent, about 20 people gathered in the KP Hall for the Spade's Tournament. Though the tournament was supposed to be canceled, enough people showed interest that it was eventually played. Friday's activities were followed by a dance, and resumed on Saturday with a softball and basketball tournament, a mother/daughter beauty pageant, and block party on Fifth and Morgan Streets.
For some, the annual night-long festivities are the only time for them to come back to Russellville, while for others, their roots to the community were too strong to stay away permanently.
Veronica Duncan-Walters said she just moved back to Russellville because she missed home. For her, the weekend's activities were a good way to see those who didn't make that same decision.
"It's wonderful for a lot of people who leave Russellville and don't come back except for the 8th," Duncan-Walters said. "So it's like a big reunion time."
Thousands of people mingled at Hampton Park and the surrounding area Saturday. Many of them stayed for more games and togetherness on Sunday.