John Huddleston Day
Since 1984, Crater of Diamonds State Park near Murfreesboro (Pike County) has been sponsoring John Huddleston Day to honor the discoverer of the first diamonds found in the area, John Huddleston. Hundreds of hopeful diamond hunters show up to take part in the activities and to try their luck at diamond mining. There were 1,322 paid admissions to the festival on June 16 and 17, 2006, along with 400 to 500 visitors taking part in the free activities and/or observing the festivities.
In 1906, John Huddleston discovered diamonds in Pike County on his 160-acre farm located two and a half miles south of Murfreesboro. This is now the site of the Crater of Diamonds State Park. Beginning in 1984, the Crater of Diamonds State Park has sponsored an annual celebration on the third Saturday in June in honor of John Huddleston. The festival includes activities for people of all ages. One of the most popular is the Treasure Hunt. Valuable prizes—such as $100 savings bonds, $50 savings bonds, or a certificate for two nights of free lodging at any of twelve Arkansas state parks—are placed in bottles and hidden on the search area of the mine for people to uncover. Also, painted rocks are hidden on the search area, which award the finders with door prizes. The only activities that require admittance fees are those that take place on the diamond search area. All other activities are free and take place behind the Visitor’s Center and at the Diamond Discovery Center.
Some of the activities for children twelve and under are a diamond toss, a diamond digging contest, a sandbox scramble, a scavenger hunt, a watermelon-seed-spitting contest, an egg toss, and three-legged races. Free watermelons are served to all visitors. Live entertainment, such as music and diamond stories told by lucky finders, is held in the amphitheater or the group pavilion.
Celebrity diamonds are sometimes on display by their owners in the Diamond Discovery Center. The Strawn-Wagner Diamond is on permanent display. It is a 1.09-carat cut diamond that has been graded as D flawless 0/0/0, the highest grade for a diamond.
The 2006 John Huddleston Day celebrated the 100th anniversary of Huddleston’s discovery. For the event, approximately 100 diamonds were displayed, among them the 8.82-carat Star of Shreveport, the 8.61-carat Lamle, and the 4.21-carat Okie Dokie. In 2006, Governor Mike Huckabee proclaimed the month of June to be “Diamonds in Arkansas Month.”
For additional information:
Crater of Diamonds State Park.http://www.craterofdiamondsstatepark.com (accessed December 5, 2006).
Murfreesboro, Arkansas. http://www.murfreesboroark.com/ (accessed December 5, 2006).
Doris Russell Foshee
Last Updated: 05/27/2008