In chapter 16, people from all over the county gather outside of the courthouse before the trial. As the children are standing in their front yard, Jem comments on the Mennonites, who traveled from deep in the woods to come into town to watch the trial. Scout mentions that the ladies wore their finest dresses and bonnets as they went into town, and Miss Maudie mentions that the droves of people heading to the trial resemble a "Roman carnival."
After dinner, the children head downtown, and Scout describes the scene as a "gala occasion." Animals, mules, and wagons are parked underneath every available tree, and the entire community is sitting outside of the courthouse eating food like they are at a picnic. The citizens casually enjoy their food and talk to each other like they are at a typical social event.
Scout also notices that Dolphus Raymond is congregating with the Negroes, who are sitting together in the far corner of the square. Overall, the entire community shows up to watch Atticus defend Tom Robinson. The fact that people travel from far distances and are willing to spend the day at the courthouse emphasizes the importance of the trial. When the children enter the courthouse, it is so packed with spectators that they are forced to sit in the balcony section with the Negroes.