2017 Arkansas Anniversaries
From popular festivals to historic commemorations, Arkansas is ready to celebrate in 2017. Learn more about the festivals, performances and other events that mark a milestone anniversary this year.
90th Anniversary of George’s Majestic Lounge, Fayetteville
George’s Majestic Lounge, the iconic bar and live music venue on Dickson Street in Fayetteville, has been around for 360 seasons – that is 90 glorious years – proving that the right people, passion and management, great live music, and a cold libation stand the test of time.
George Pappas opened George’s in 1927 as a restaurant, bar, and general store. In 1947 Mary and Joe Hinton bought it and eventually added music. In 1987, Dr. Bill and Betty Harrison purchased the bar on an emotional note – it was the sight of their first date in college. Brian and Day Crowne and Suzie Stephens purchased the business and land in 2004. The Crownes are now the sole owners after buying the property from Stephens four years ago.
George’s is a Northwest Arkansas institution, iconic in every way. It retains the rustic character of the 20s, is home to Razorback and University of Arkansas memorabilia, signed guitars, and millions of memories from thousands of bar and music lovers.
It is one of the oldest and longest running live music venue in the state of Arkansas and one of the oldest bar and concert venues in the Midwest. Consequence of Sound ranked it number 87 in its list of the 100 greatest music venues in the USA.
Many people remember the wisteria covered garden in the back as they watched trains roll by. It was the first bar to integrate in the late 1950s, the first restaurant to provide pizza delivery in Northwest Arkansas, and the first bar to have a television that broadcast in color. It was voted one of the best college town bars in the USA and nominated of an ACM nightclub of the year award.
George’s is best known for the incredible musicians that have played its two stages – musicians like Robert Cray, Leon Russell, Little River Band, Delbert McClinton, Eddy Money, Tower of Power, CoCoMontoya, Steve Kimock, the Zac Brown Band, Sam Hunt, the Cate Brothers Band. Recently George’s has hosted other bands as well like Fitz & the Tantrum, Animal Collective, Sturgill Simpson, Cherub, Big Gigantic and more.
CONTACT: 479-527-6618, http://www.GeorgesMajesticLounge.com.
50th Anniversary of the Arts Center of the Ozarks, Springdale
The Arts Center of the Ozarks celebrates 50 years in 2017. Making great entertainment and creative educational opportunities possible for all ages has been its mission since 1967. The ACO is dedicated to providing artistic outlets in Northwest Arkansas for artists, actors, musicians, dancers and for audiences of all ages. It offers drama, musicals, gallery showings, classes, and cultural events in a 425-seat theatre. ACO has something for every taste – dinner theater, musicals, drama, children’s workshop productions, art exhibitions and competitions, the Prairie Grove Clothesline Fair, concerts by the ACO Children’s Chorus and the ACO Community Chorus, dance concerts and recitals, and classes in everything from stage make-up to calligraphy, beginning watercolor to dance.
CONTACT: 479-751-5441, http://www.ACOzarks.org.
50th Anniversary of the Weinkeller Restaurant, Wiederkehr Village
With roots in the 1800s, one of the oldest wineries in The Natural State is Wiederkehr Wine Cellars, located in the Arkansas River Valley in Wiederkehr Village.
Atop St. Mary’s Mountain, the Wiederkehr family tradition of winemaking began in 1880 when Johann Andreas Wiederkehr and his family emigrated from Switzerland to America. The original hand-dug wine cellar, now the site of the Weinkeller Restaurant featuring Swiss and Continental cuisine, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and celebrates 50 years in 2017.
Wiederkehr serves an array of award-winning wines, from classic French varieties and dessert wines to sparkling wines and alcohol-free wines. The winery and restaurant are open daily (except major holidays). Tours of the winery are offered every 45 minutes. Wiederkehr’s Vintage 1880 Wine Shoppe sells wine, gourmet items, and wine-related gifts from corkscrews and wine stoppers to wine glasses and T-shirts. Wiederkehr also accommodates groups in its banquet hall and travelers in its RV park. Its annual Wiederkehr Village Weinfest takes place in mid-September.
Wiederkehr Village is located on Interstate 40 at Exit 41. Follow the signs to Wiederkehr Wine Cellars. Wiederkehr Village Wine & Spirits, a tourist information center, liquor store, and tasting room is located at Exit 41.
CONTACT: 800-622-WINE, http://www.WiederkehrWines.com.
65th Anniversary of Stubby’s BBQ, Hot Springs
Stubby’s BBQ is celebrating 65 years in 2017. The restaurant, which opened in Hot Springs in 1952, is a family business that is currently owned by Chris Dunkel. The restaurant is well known for its Stubby’s BBQ Sauce and you can find dishes here such as BBQ ribs and slow-cooked chicken, pork and beef. Stubby’s, which is currently located at 3024 Central Avenue, has been featured on various national outlets including “BBQ Crawl” on the Travel Channel.
CONTACT: 501-624-1552, http://www.StubbysBBQ.com.
Jan. 18: 60th anniversary of Davidsonville Historic State Park, Pocahontas
Region: Upper Delta
Davidsonville Historic State Park in Pocahontas turns 60 in 2017. Legislative Act 418 approved the preservation of Old Davidsonville on March 28, 1957. On January 18, 1974, the site was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Now called Historic Davidsonville State Park, the park preserves the site of historic Davidsonville in Randolph County. Established in 1815, the town included the Arkansas Territory’s first post office, courthouse, and land office. Bypassed by the Southwest Trail, an overland route from St. Louis to the border of Mexico, the town faded by the 1830s. The park includes historical markers, a walking trail at the old village, and two pioneer cemeteries. In recent years, the park added two “ghost structures,” open frameworks that outline the appearance of a two-story dogtrot-style dwelling and the two-story courthouse. In 2016, the park opened a new visitors center.
March: 75th anniversary of the Japanese American internment camps, Rohwer & Jerome
Region: Lower Delta
This year marks the 75th anniversary of the opening of the internment camps at Jerome and Rohwer After the United States entered World War II, President Franklin Roosevelt created the War Relocation Authority, creating 10 sites throughout the country to incarcerate Japanese Americans. Rohwer and Jerome were established in March 1942 and served as the War Relocation Authority’s easternmost camp sites. The two camps would eventually house nearly 18,000 people. Jerome, located in Drew County, operated the shortest amount of time of any of the 10 camps, from Oct. 6, 1942, to June 30, 1944. All that remains of the camp is a smokestack from the camp’s laundry remains. A granite marker commemorates the camp’s location. Rohwer is located in Desha County. The camp was opened Sept. 18, 1942, and did not close until Nov. 30, 1945, making it one of the last camps to cease operation. The location has several commemorative markers and a small cemetery. The site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and has been designated a National Historic Landmark.
March 3: Little River County Sesquicentennial Celebration Festival, Ashdown
The event will include bike tours, a 5K race, and festival events. Ashdown is around 2.5 hours from Little Rock and is located in Little River County. The county got its name due to the area’s close proximity to the Little River, which flows into the Red River near Texarkana. This county, established in 1867, is located in the southwest corner of the state and the two rivers form major parts of its boundary.
March 4-5: 15th Annual Little Rock Marathon, Little Rock
Little Rock Marathon Race Weekend is held the first weekend in March each year and includes a marathon, half marathon, 10K, 5K run/walk, a children’s mile and a free two-day health and fitness expo. Although we are known for putting on a world class event, we set a new standard in the marathon industry back in 2005, according to Runners World, with the size of our marathon finishers’ medal. It’s Huge. The Little Rock Marathon and companion races are a running and walking tour of Arkansas’ capitol city. When asked if there are hills in Little Rock, we love to affectionately say “What Hills? It depends on your perspective.” There are some bumps in the road, but life is full of bumps in the road. The marathon and half-marathon are certified courses, and the marathon is a qualifier for the Boston Marathon. The theme for the 2017 Little Rock Marathon is “Runalicious.” (Think candy.)
April 8: 10th annual Festival on the Rails, McNeil
McNeil holds this annual event to celebrate the history of the railroad here. The festival site is in downtown near the railroad tracks. The event will have music, food vendors, kids activities, train rides, fireworks and more. The town is also home to Logoly State Park, the state’s first environmentally-friendly state park.
CONTACT: 870-949-1540, http://www.McNeil-AR.com.
April 29-30: 30th Annual Springfest, Heber Springs
Region: North Central
Celebrating 30 years, this arts and crafts festival is loaded with fun family activities, live music, good food, inflatables, butterfly pavilion, and car shows. The 2017 dates are April 29-30. The fun takes place from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day in Spring Park, located on Broadway and Main streets.
CONTACT: 501-362-2444, http://www.Heber-Springs.com.
May: 30th annual May Festival of the Arts, Eureka Springs
This month-long celebration of the arts in Eureka Springs celebrates its 30th year in 2017. Activities run throughout the entire month of May. There are dozens of special exhibits, artists’ receptions and demonstrations, and free music in Basin Spring Park. Special features include the ArtRageous Parade on May 6, and gallery strolls downtown every Saturday evening, plus the White Street Studio Walk on May 19.
May 6: 25th annual Mayhaw Festival, El Dorado
Annual event on the grounds of the Historic Newton House Museum that celebrates the mayhaw. The event has a 5K and 10K “Mayhaulin” run, a mayhaw jelly biscuit breakfast, a Kids’ Jam event for children, an art contest, live music, arts and crafts and mayhaw jelly for sale, and more.
CONTACT: 870-862-9890, http://www.SoArkHistory.com.
May 19-21: 40th Annual Old Timers Day, Van Buren
The 40th annual Old Timers Day Arts & Crafts Festival features hundreds of exhibitors from more than seven states covering six closed-off blocks on Historic Main Street in Van Buren. Enjoy a carnival, food, entertainment, and arts and crafts. The 2017 dates are May 19, 20, and 21. The event will be held rain or shine.
CONTACT: General information: Lonnie London, 580-467-6377, http://www.VanBuren.org/events/festivals; vendor information: Mindy, 580-656-0717.
June 1-4: 40th Annual Riverfest, Little Rock
Riverfest is a celebration of visual and performing arts that is held annually on the banks of the Arkansas River in Little Rock. Riverfest is the largest single event in the state of Arkansas with a rich tradition. Flowing on the River, the festival’s separately ticketed wine and craft beer event, will kick off Riverfest 2017 on Thursday, June 1, followed by a two-day music festival (June 2-3) featuring some of America’s hottest acts. On Sunday, June 4, to commemorate Riverfest’s 40 years in the community, a special celebration and “thank you” to the public will be held with all-day activities, which conclude that evening with a spectacular firework show. Ticket holders for the two-day music festival will be admitted free into Sunday’s events. Springfest, a free event for families, will return to Riverfront Park Saturday, April 8, and again include the popular family-friendly activities such as acrobats, arts and crafts, the Super Retriever Series dog jumping competitions and more.
June 2-3: 40th annual Lum and Abner Festival, Mena
This festival in Janssen Park celebrates hometown favorites, “Lum and Abner,” and includes activities for all ages. There will be live music, arts and crafts, food, fishing derbies, a 5K, a lumberjack show, gunfighter reenactments, and more. Located east of Mena in the Pine Ridge community, the Lum & Abner Jot ‘Em Down Store & Museum houses memorabilia related to the popular 1940s radio comedy team of Lum and Abner. The late Norris Goff of Mena portrayed Abner.
CONTACT: Janssen Park, 479-394-8355, http://www.VisitMena.com.
June 9-10: 35th annual Portfest, Newport
Region: Upper Delta
Start summer with a bang at 35th annual Portfest in Newport. After taking 18 months to revamp the festival, organizers are excited about bringing the festival back in 2017. Anticipated improvements include looking at a wider range of events, a broader reach with a variety of music and increased family entertainment options. Held along the banks of the White River at Jacksonport State Park.
CONTACT: Newport Area Chamber of Commerce, 870-523-3618, http://www.Portfest.org.
September (TBA): 25th Annual Tractor and Engine Show, Scott
Are you ready for some sputtering, rickety fun at the Plantation Agriculture Museum? The museum invites all pre-1960s tractor exhibitors and hit-and-miss engines, along with those who love them. This event is a treat for all ages and draws out a large community of farmers, tractor owners, and spectators alike. Free for exhibitors and visitors.
CONTACT: Plantation Agriculture Museum, 501-961-1409.
September (TBA): 30th Annual Bryant Fall Fest, Bryant
Bryant’s Annual Fall Fest contributes to our community’s sense of closeness. We are thrilled to have our local businesses, school groups, clubs and talents showcased in this festival. Our attendance keeps growing upward from 10,000. Entertainment on stage. Ever updated contests alongside the tried and true events keep the fun coming. Activities include: Bryant’s Buzzin’ BBQ Bash, Duct Tape Boat Race, Parade, Pumpkin Bling, KidzLand.
CONTACT: Bryant Chamber of Commerce, 501-847-4702.
Sept. 9-10: Tired Iron of the Ozarks 25th Annual Fall Show, Gentry
This antique tractor and engine show has exhibitions of old-time sawmilling and blacksmithing, and hit and miss engines. Other activities include kiddie tractor pulls, plowing, home-related antiques, and more. A church service is held Sunday morning. RV parking with electricity and water hookups are available. Food concessions are also onsite. The fall show takes place the weekend after Labor Day.
Tired Iron of the Ozarks, a club dedicated to the preservation and exhibition of antique engines and tractors, is located at 13344 Taylor Orchard Road in Gentry. The show grounds belong to the club and consist of 17 acres. The club has approximately 170 members. Additionally, the club has a 1907 log cabin, a blacksmith shop, a clubhouse, an early 1900s sawmill, a pavilion, an antique home exhibit building, and an RV park with over 30 spaces.
CONTACT: 479-787-6982, http://www.TiredIronOfTheOzarks.org.
Sept. 16: 5th Annual Legends of Arkansas, North Little Rock
Legends of Arkansas is an annual nonprofit festival of music and arts in September, created to promote and showcase the musicians, artists, and independent businesses in Arkansas, while offering celebration for friends and neighbors. Legends In Argenta is the title of the lead-up festival in May. As of 2017, local nonprofit organization The Van, which works to find and serve unsheltered homeless in Central Arkansas, will be the producer and sole beneficiary of the festival.
Sept. 22: 25th anniversary of Pumpkin Hollow, Piggott
Region: Upper Delta
Pumpkin Hollow turns 25! In 1997, Pumpkin Hollow near Piggot became Arkansas’s first corn maze. In the past 25 years, Pumpkin Hollow, along with the Horror in the Hollow haunted attractions, have drawn thousands to St. Francis. In 2017, Pumpkin Hollow opens to the public on Sept. 16; Horror in the Hollow (Bubba’s Butcher Barn, the Zombie Paintball Patrol, Frightmare Farmhouse, and the Forest of Fright) opens on Sept. 22.
CONTACT: http://www.PumpkinHollow.com, http://www.HorrorintheHollow.com.
Oct. 13-14: 30th Annual World Championship Quartz Crystal Dig, Mount Ida
Every October, Mount Ida plays host to the World Championship Quartz Crystal Dig. This will be the 30th anniversary for the world championship dig. During the event, diggers compete for prize money in categories that include Best Cluster and Best Point. Held along with the championships is the Quartz, Quiltz, & Craftz Festival (October 13-15) at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds in downtown Mount Ida. This is a gem and mineral show as well as an arts and crafts and quilt show.
CONTACT: 870-867-2723, http://www.MtIdaChamber.com.
November (TBA): 10th Annual Pioneer Village Fall Fest, Searcy
Pioneer Village, a collection of late 19th century buildings, farm equipment, and other items of historic interest saved from throughout White County by the White County Historical Society. Crafters, chuckwagon cooking, live music, building tours, farm animals, demonstrations, and food. Crafted items for sale.
December (TBA): 50th Annual Christmas Frolic and Open House, Little Rock
Celebrate Christmas with Historic Arkansas Museum as it was in the 1800s with living history, carols, reenactments, live music, dancing and more. Visitors come from across the state every year for famous hot cider and ginger cake, as well as Arkansas-made holiday shopping in the Museum Store.
December (TBA): 60th Annual Jacksonville Christmas Parade, Jacksonville
The parade will begin at the corner of Sharp and Main Street and will end at First United Methodist Church on Main Street. The theme is “Sights & Sounds of Christmas”. Entry forms are available on the park department’s website, http://www.cityofjacksonville.net. Entry fee is $25. Awards will be given in several categories. Admission is free. Date, time and location subject to change.
Dec. 25: Fort Smith Turns 200
As Fort Smith approaches its 200th birthday, the city’s bicentennial committee is making big plans to celebrate. A commemorative coffee table bicentennial book is in the works. The city will stage an event at Belle Pointe on Christmas Day of 2017 and then will celebrate the entirety of 2018 with special events in these areas:
First Quarter: Arts and Culture
Second Quarter: Frontier Heritage
Third Quarter: Fort Smith Homecoming (will have a national campaign to get anyone who ever lived there to come and visit that summer)
Fourth Quarter: Fort Smith, the Next Two Hundred Years
In 2016, Fort Smith was named a Top True Western Town by True West magazine for the fourth year in a row.
CONTACT: Claude Legris, executive director, Fort Smith Convention and Visitors Bureau, 479-783-8888, http://www.FortSmith.org.