Festivals and Events

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Entries - Entry Category: Festivals and Events

Turkey Trot Festival

Turkey Trot is an annual festival held in Yellville (Marion County) on the second weekend in October, all day Friday and Saturday. Like many Arkansas festivals, Turkey Trot was founded to draw attention to local natural resources as well as to provide community entertainment. However, it has also been a source of controversy due to the treatment of turkeys during the festival. The festival originated just before Thanksgiving in 1946, when Yellville’s American Legion post, with help from local businessmen and professionals, sponsored a National Turkey Calling Contest and Turkey Trot. The day’s activities were intended to be a wild turkey–conservation activity, calling attention to Arkansas’s dwindling turkey population, which by the mid-1940s had dropped to only 7,000, very few of …

United Confederate Veterans Reunion of 1911

Little Rock (Pulaski County) hosted the twenty-first annual United Confederate Veterans Reunion on May 16–18, 1911. The reunion drew more than 140,000 people, including approximately 12,000 veterans, making it the largest event in Little Rock history until William Jefferson Clinton’s election night in 1992. The United Confederate Veterans (UCV) formed in 1889 with a goal of keeping alive the memory of the men who fought for the South during the Civil War and to bring national attention to the needs of the aging veterans. The annual reunion was one of the group’s major projects, and towns across the country vied to host the event. Judge William M. Kavanaugh chaired Little Rock’s planning committee for the event. Subcommittees arranged for lodging, …

United Confederate Veterans Reunion of 1928

The thirty-eighth annual national reunion of the United Confederate Veterans (UCV), held on May 8–11, 1928, marked the second time that Little Rock (Pulaski County) served as the event’s host city, seventeen years after the much-celebrated 1911 reunion. Governor John Ellis Martineau’s personal invitation, along with a $30,000 legislative appropriation to provide free entertainment for all veterans, helped Little Rock beat out the cities of Atlanta, Georgia, and Lexington, Kentucky, for the honor. The Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) oversaw all planning. Edmund R. Wiles, commander of the Trans-Mississippi Division of the SCV, served as general chairman of the reunion committee and used the War Memorial Building (now the Old State House) as committee headquarters. In November 1927, Wiles dispelled …

United Confederate Veterans Reunion of 1949

The fifty-ninth annual national reunion of the United Confederate Veterans (UCV) marked the third and final time that Little Rock (Pulaski County) served as host city for the event. Thereafter, the UCV held only two more national reunions. The Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) planned and organized all of the event’s activities. Little Rock’s Robert C. Newton Camp of the SCV served as the host organization throughout the reunion. Other organizations associated with the reunion included the Order of the Stars and Bars and the Confederated Southern Memorial Association (CSMA). Due to the limited number of living Civil War veterans, reunion officials expected no more than eight veterans to attend the event. Even this modest attendance expectation went unfulfilled, however, …

Wiederkehr Weinfest

Wiederkehr Wine Cellar’s Weinfest is one of the oldest and best-attended festivals in western Arkansas. The first Wiederkehr Weinfest was in 1963, and the event continues to be an annual attraction for locals and tourists. Weinfest celebrates the heritage of the Swiss-German immigrants who settled in Wiederkehr Village atop St. Mary’s Mountain near the city of Altus (Franklin County) during the 1880s. Al Wiederkehr, the winery founder’s grandson, initiated the festival after he returned from an oenological (relating to the study of wine and winemaking) research trip to Europe. During his expedition, he traveled to wine- and grape-producing countries, including France, Germany, Switzerland, and Italy, and attended a variety of local festivals. When he came home, he realized that having a …

World Championship Quartz Crystal Dig

The World Championship Quartz Crystal Dig is held annually the second week of October in the Mount Ida (Montgomery County) area. According to Montgomery County: Our Heritage, “The Quartz Crystal Festival held October 24, 25 and 26, 1986, was attended by some two thousand residents and tourists from coast to coast.” The event was the idea of Paul G. Griffiths Sr. of the Mount Ida Area Chamber of Commerce and Sonny Stanley. The dig is a two-day event with two divisions: crystal points and clusters. The winners keep the crystal they mine and share in $1,500 in prize money. Contestants pay a $75 registration fee and compete in both divisions. On each of the three days of the dig, the …

World’s Championship Duck Calling Contest

The World’s Championship Duck Calling Contest is held every Thanksgiving weekend in Stuttgart (Arkansas County). The winner is named the World Champion Duck Caller. To qualify for the contest, a contestant must win a preliminary state or regional duck-calling contest sanctioned by the Stuttgart Chamber of Commerce and held in one of thirty-eight states. A preliminary contest is also held in Canada for Canadian residents. The first National Duck Calling Contest was held on Main Street in Stuttgart on November 24, 1936, in connection with the annual Arkansas Rice Carnival. It was sponsored by American Legion Post No. 48. The contest was originated by Thad McCollum of Stuttgart after a dispute broke out among local duck hunters as to who …

World’s Fairs, Arkansas’s Exhibitions at the

In 1876, the United States hosted its first World’s Fair in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence: the United States Centennial Exposition held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. International expositions, or World’s Fairs, emerged from the Great Exposition in London in 1851, which primarily focused on industrial innovation. World’s Fairs in the United States invited participation from each state, with each state funding its own building and displays. Arkansas’s participation in numerous World’s Fairs in the United States presented an opportunity to advertise the state’s accomplishments and promote settlement. While Arkansas participated in a number of World’s Fairs over the years, the most significant expositions occurred around the turn of the century. The Centennial Exposition (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1876) …

World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade

The World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade, which is held in Hot Springs (Garland County), began in 2004 when a group of Hot Springs residents gathered in a pub on the city’s Bridge Street and began musing about ways to capitalize on the fact that the street had been named in Ripley’s Believe It or Not! during the 1950s and 1960s as the world’s shortest street in everyday use. The idea of holding a celebration on the ninety-eight-foot street in the heart of the historic city’s downtown area arose, and the approaching St. Patrick’s Day holiday emerged as an appropriate time to capitalize on Bridge Street’s reputation. The First Ever First Annual World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade was held …