Music and handmade crafts will again take center stage in this weekend’s 55th Annual Arkansas Folk Festival, a celebration of local heritage since 1963.
The Ozark Folk Center State Park will host the festival’s kick-off event Thursday night, the annual Music Roots Concert featuring the county’s youngest performers, which involves some very talented individuals and groups.
Music programs are scheduled for the outdoor courthouse stage, while impromptu music groups offering a wide variety of music styles will spring up around the downtown area throughout the daytime hours, and play late into the evening.
Two special bands have been booked for evening performances on the courthouse stage. The New Binkley Brothers are scheduled for Friday night, and Side Street Steppers for Saturday night.
An old-time “slow jam” is scheduled for Saturday at Mountain View Music on the north side of the courtsquare. Lukas Pool is organizing an event to include all skill levels of musicians, and there will be demonstrations of instruments, as well.
The Arkansas Craft Guild is coordinating vendor booths, both for the Artisans Market and additional booths around the square. The booth fee will be waived for artisans offering demonstrations as well as sales. The Arkansas Craft School just east of the courtsquare will also offer demonstrations at its facility, and Mountain View Meeting Place (a new facility adjacent to Wildflower B&B on the square) will also offer booth space.
A highlight of the festival is the parade on Saturday morning beginning at 10 a.m. Floats sponsored by local organizations and businesses, dignitaries, the school’s marching band, antique cars, horses and many more entries offer something for everyone as it travels down Main Street.
The theme “Memories of Mountain View” has been chosen in hopes of inspiring residents to recreate favorite parade floats from the past or other favorite memories from times past. Prizes for parade floats will be offered in two divisions: youth and open. First prize will be $1,000, second $500 and third $250 in each division.
“We’re trying to get back to our roots,” commented Tori Epperson, the Chamber’s executive director.
Local musician J.C. Bonds will be Grand Marshal of the parade, which will begin at 10 a.m. that Saturday. Violet Hensley, a 100-year-old fiddler from Yellville, has been named Festival Queen, which is a new designation to honor someone who has contributed to the festival and folk traditions over the years.
Saturday’s Talent Show will be for youth up to age 18, with prizes of $100 for first, $75 for second and $50 for third. It begins at 2 p.m. this year.
The parking lot off Main Street at Centennial Bank Park will be designated for youth organization fundraising booths, and a kids play area will be set up behind Debbie’s along South Peabody Avenue. Howard Street on the west side of the courtsquare will be reserved for handicapped parking. Music schedules during the day will include dancing demonstrations, and there will be an old-fashioned cakewalk at 4:30 on Saturday.
The Ozark Folk Center State Park kicks off its season offering free admission to the craft grounds Friday through Sunday, and free shuttle rides will be offered between the park and downtown on Saturday. Visitors may park at the Folk Center and avoid trying to park in limited space in the downtown area.
Other activities available in the area include tours of Blanchard Springs Caverns, mountain biking, camping and hiking in the Ozark National Forest, and fishing on White River.
The Arkansas Folk Festival is presented by the Mountain View Area Chamber of Commerce, with this year’s sponsor being Yelcot. To contact the Chamber of Commerce about the festival or other local events, call 1-888-679-2859 or visit www.YourPlaceInTheMountains.com.
For more information about Ozark Folk Center activities, contact the state park at 870-269-3851 or visit www.ozarkfolkcenter.com.