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Welcome to the CALS Encyclopedia of Arkansas

The CALS Encyclopedia of Arkansas is a free, authoritative source of information about the rich history, geography, and culture of Arkansas. It is updated regularly to ensure the people of Arkansas have an accurate and accessible resource to explore our heritage. It will also benefit people outside the state who are seeking information about Arkansas. We invite you to browse our text entries and media galleries to learn more about the people, places, events, legends, and lore of the 25th state. The CALS Encyclopedia of Arkansas is a work in progress. We are continually adding new entries, photographs, maps, videos, and audio files, so check back frequently to see what’s new.

Photo Of The Day
Orval Faubus with Hope Melon

Orval Faubus, governor of Arkansas from 1955 to 1967, is shown with a watermelon from Hope (Hempstead County); circa 1965. Hope claims the title of “Home of the World’s Largest Watermelons.” Hope annually celebrates this distinction with a yearly watermelon festival. The event first originated in 1926 and has been ongoing, though not continuous, since 1977. A four-day event the second week in August, it is sponsored by the Hope–Hempstead County Chamber of Commerce. Activities include watermelon-eating and seed-spitting contests, fiddling, arm wrestling contests, and as many as 200 vendors displaying their wares.

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This Day in Arkansas History
November 30, 1919

Pierce Winningham “Mac” McKennon, a talented musician more widely remembered as a famous World War II flying ace, was born in Clarksville (Johnson County). After graduation from high school in Fort Smith (Sebastian County), he attended the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville (Washington County) but left because of poor academic performance. He later left the U.S. Air Corps because of lack of aptitude. In Canada as a member of the Royal Canadian Air Force, he excelled as a pilot and later became a member of the Eagle Squadron in Shropshire, England. After transferring to the U.S. Air Force as a second lieutenant, he was shot down behind enemy lines in France and Germany. In both instances, he made spectacular escapes.

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