Recreation and Sports

Entry Category: Recreation and Sports

Aesthetic Club

The Aesthetic Club is one of the oldest women’s clubs west of the Mississippi River. It began when a group of young women wishing to start a reading club organized on January 16, 1883, in Little Rock (Pulaski County). Aesthetic Club founders Cynthia Polk, Sallie Martin, Ida Martin, Fannie Jabine, Jane Georgine Woodruff, Mary Knapp, Gertrude Hempstead, Harriet Jabine, and Virginia Hamilton immediately expanded their objectives “to present programs of a literary, artistic, musical, and timely trend” in order to “assist in educational uplift, and to bring its members together for social enjoyment.” The name, proposed by Knapp, was borrowed from the Aesthetic Movement, which was “emulous of cultivating ‘the beautiful’ in all things.” Inspired by Oscar Wilde’s comments on …

Albert Pike Memorial Temple

  The Albert Pike Memorial Temple is located at 700–724 Scott Street in Little Rock (Pulaski County). On November 13, 1986, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places for its architectural and historical significance. The temple is named for Albert Pike, a prominent figure in the history of Arkansas, who played a major role in the establishment of Freemasonry in the state. The Albert Pike Memorial Temple is the headquarters of the local governing body of Freemasonry, the Arkansas Grand Lodge. It was built to replace the original Masonic Temple, located on 5thand Main streets, which was destroyed by fire in 1919. The building is owned by the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry and houses another …

All American Red Heads

A nationally known women’s basketball team, the All American Red Heads formed in 1936 in Cassville, Missouri, with Connie Mack Olson as its founder and coach. Originally, the team, all sporting dyed or natural red hair, publicized Olson’s Beauty Parlors in Kansas and Missouri, and though later the team moved to Arkansas, they kept their name. The team became so popular with the sports’ crowds that the team hit the road and successfully challenged men’s teams with their trick shots, athletic ability, and “hijinks.” The Red Heads thrilled audiences all over the United States with behind-the-back shooting, back-hand passing, and athletic ability on the court. They played men’s teams using men’s rules and won seventy percent of their games. While …

Allen, Dick

aka: Richard Anthony Allen
Richard Anthony “Dick” Allen—or “Richie” Allen, as the media called him early in his career—was the first African American to play for the minor league baseball team based in Little Rock (Pulaski County). That same year, 1963, official baseball records first recognized the team’s name change from the Little Rock Travelers to the Arkansas Travelers. After one season in Little Rock, Allen had a memorable, though controversial, career in the major leagues. Dick Allen was born on March 8, 1942, in Wampum, Pennsylvania, the second youngest of nine children born to Era Allen and Coy Allen, a traveling truck driver and self-employed sanitation worker who later divorced her. Era Allen raised Dick Allen primarily on her own. Allen’s family was …

Aluminum Bowl

On December 22, 1956, War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock (Pulaski County) hosted the Aluminum Bowl football game. The game pitted Montana State College against St. Joseph’s College of Indiana in the first national football championship game of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). The NAIA governs hundreds of small college athletic programs across the United States. The Aluminum Bowl marked two historic events in Arkansas. It was the first time that a national collegiate football championship game was played in Arkansas, and it is thought to be the first racially integrated college football game to be played in the state. In an era of tense race relations across the South, the game came to Little Rock due to …

Alworth, Lance Dwight “Bambi”

An All-American football player at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) in 1961, Lance Dwight “Bambi” Alworth was the first player from the American Football League (AFL) to be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Lance Alworth was born on August 3, 1940, in Houston, Texas, to Richard R. Alworth, an oilfield construction executive, and Elizabeth L. Parrish Alworth, a teacher. When he was a child, his family moved to Hog Chain, Mississippi, where his father’s company, Humble Oil, had an operation. At high school in nearby Brookhaven, Alworth won fifteen letters in four sports: baseball, basketball, football, and track. The New York Yankees and Pittsburgh Pirates both offered Alworth contracts to play professional baseball, …

Andrews, Glen

Glen Daniel Andrews Sr. is considered one of the all-time great professional bass anglers. Bobby Murray, two-time Bassmaster Classic champion, describes him as “the first true professional bass angler.” He mentored such fishing greats as Bill Dance, Billy and Bobby Murray, Ray Scott, and Jerry McKinnis. In addition, Andrews manufactured lures, promoted tournaments, wrote a syndicated outdoor column for the Springdale News called “Anglers World,” and wrote Techniques of Bass Fishing, a manual he used to teach fishing classes across Arkansas and throughout the Midwest. Andrews was inducted into Garry Mason’s Legends of the Outdoors National Hall of Fame in 2010. Glen Andrews was born on May 31, 1931, the third of seven children, to Earl and Ruth Andrews on …

Arkansas Apple Festival

The Arkansas Apple Festival in Lincoln (Washington County), held the first weekend of October, has been a feature of life in northwest Arkansas since 1976. The goal of the festival is to call attention to the value of the area’s apple crop and the history behind it. At one time, Arkansas’s largest apple orchard was outside Lincoln. Established traditions at the festival include live music (generally bluegrass and country); square dancing; an arts and crafts fair; and a parade that includes local organizations, politicians and elected officials, antique automobiles and tractors, and local riding clubs. Extremely popular are the free samples of apple cider and apple slices given away throughout the festival. The Apple Festival features two beauty contests: the …

Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism (ADPT)

aka: State Parks
aka: Arkansas State Parks
The Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism (ADPT) manages the state’s fifty-two state parks and promotes the state of Arkansas as a tourist destination for people around the country. The department is composed of three divisions: 1) Arkansas Tourism, which promotes tourism and economic development in the state, 2) Arkansas State Parks, which develops and manages the actual state parks, and 3), Keep Arkansas Beautiful, which promotes keeping Arkansas litter-free. Arkansas’s first state park, Petit Jean State Park, was established in 1923 after the passage of Act 276, which authorized the commissioner of state lands to accept land donations for state parks and reservations. However, the state did not have an agency overseeing the development of state parks until 1927, …

Arkansas Derby

The Arkansas Derby is the most lucrative thoroughbred horse race in Arkansas, currently offering a “purse” of $1 million. The purse is the prize money that is divided among the horses competing in the race, based upon their finish, with the winner receiving sixty percent ($600,000). The one-and-one-eighth-mile race is restricted to horses that are three years old. It is traditionally held each year at Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort in Hot Springs (Garland County) on the second Saturday of April. Over time, it has developed into one of the nation’s leading preparatory races for the Triple Crown, which comprises the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes. The Arkansas Derby was first held in 1936 and carried a $5,000 purse. The …

Arkansas Diamonds

The Arkansas Diamonds professional football team competed in the Continental Football League in 1968 and 1969. The Continental Football League, a fledgling professional league, operated from 1965 to 1969. A. B. Chandler, former Kentucky governor and Major League Baseball’s second commissioner, was the league’s first commissioner and provided the upstart league with a recognized level of credibility. Nevertheless, by 1968, Chandler had departed and the league was struggling to survive. Still, the Continental Football League provided players with an opportunity to be paid to play, although in 1968 team payrolls were capped at $5,000 per game, and no player could earn more than $200 per game. Furthermore, the league offered players a chance to continue playing after their collegiate careers …

Arkansas Entertainers Hall of Fame

The Arkansas Entertainers Hall of Fame in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) was created to honor Arkansans who have made outstanding contributions to the entertainment industry. Honorees include performers, non-performing contributors (such as writers, directors, and producers), and pioneers in the entertainment industry. In 1985, the Arkansas General Assembly authorized the establishment of a museum honoring Arkansans who have made a considerable contribution to the entertainment industry. The first inductees were honored in 1996. The following year, the state legislature transferred the Arkansas Entertainers Hall of Fame to the Department of Parks and Tourism, along with $300,000. Several cities competed to host the museum. Pine Bluff was eventually chosen, with the Pine Bluff Convention and Visitors Bureau receiving $250,000 to establish …

Arkansas Folk Festival

The annual Arkansas Folk Festival takes place on the third weekend in April in Mountain View (Stone County). Held since 1963, the event attracts thousands of people to the small mountain community, where the livelihood of many residents is based on tourism. The town has become nationally renowned for its folk music, and the downtown area is a popular place for impromptu “pickins” as musicians gather informally to perform. The Arkansas Folk Festival has its roots in the Stone County Folkways Festival held in 1941, celebrating the musical heritage of the area. Musical performances and a jig dance contest were among events held at the Blanchard Springs Recreation Area. World War II prevented subsequent gatherings at the time, but the …

Arkansas Game and Fish Commission

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC) manages wildlife and natural habitat and sets hunting, fishing, and trapping regulations. It works with public, private, local, state, and federal groups to enhance conservation efforts and educate the public about the importance of healthy wildlife populations and their habitats. AGFC also publishes the bimonthly Arkansas Wildlife magazine, which began as Arkansas Game and Fish in 1967 but changed its name in 1992. The AGFC is overseen by a board of seven governor-appointed commissioners who serve seven-year terms. An ex-officio member is the chairman of the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) biology department. Commission meetings usually are held at AGFC headquarters in Little Rock (Pulaski County) on the third Thursday …

Arkansas Heritage Trails System

The Arkansas Heritage Trails System is a network of driving tours created by the Department of Arkansas Heritage (DAH), Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism (ADPT), and Arkansas Department of Transportation to mark the approximate routes through Arkansas of the Trail of Tears, Southwest Trail, Butterfield Overland Mail Route, and Civil War campaigns. The Eighty-seventh Arkansas General Assembly mandated the development of a trails system through Act 728 of 2009, the Heritage Trails System Act. The act called for the system to include the Butterfield Overland Mail Company route, which included routes from the Missouri state line near Pea Ridge (Benton County) to Fort Smith (Sebastian County) and from Memphis, Tennessee, to Fort Smith; the Southwest Trail from the Missouri border …

Arkansas Intercollegiate Conference

The Arkansas Intercollegiate Conference (AIC) was an athletic confederation of Arkansas colleges and universities that was formed in 1928 as the Arkansas Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. The AIC was affiliated with the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), which was headquartered at Kansas City, Missouri. Most of the state’s four-year colleges and universities were members of the AIC at one time or another during its existence, with what are now Arkansas State University (ASU) in Jonesboro (Craighead County) and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR) among the original members. The league disbanded in the spring of 1995. During most of the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, the AIC consisted of five state schools and five private schools. The state schools …

Arkansas Museum of Natural Resources

The Arkansas Museum of Natural Resources houses exhibits that tell the story of oil and bromine production in southern Arkansas, with particular attention given to the historic oil boom that began in the 1920s. The center also interprets the history of these resources from the beginning of the oil’s creation eons ago through modern times. In the 1920s, nationwide attention focused on this area when the Smackover oil field was ranked first among the nation’s oil fields with a yearly production of sixty-nine million barrels in 1925. In 1925, during south Arkansas’s oil boom, the forty-square-mile Smackover oil field was the focal point of one of the fastest mineral booms in North America, with 1,000 wells drilled in the first six …

Arkansas Post Museum State Park

Arkansas Post Museum State Park in southeast Arkansas displays exhibits and artifacts and presents programs about Arkansas Post—the first permanent European settlement in the state—and life in the state’s Delta region, including the Grand Prairie. It succeeded Arkansas Post State Park, which was transferred to the National Park Service in 1964 for creation of the Arkansas Post National Memorial. The museum complex is located at the junction of Highways 165 and 169. The Arkansas Post State Park Commission, established by Legislative Act 57 of 1929, acquired sixty-two acres that had been occupied by Arkansas Post when it became the capital of Arkansas Territory in 1819, when the territory was established. At the time of the park’s creation, there were no …

Arkansas Post National Memorial

Arkansas Post National Memorial is a unit of the National Park Service located in southern Arkansas County near Gillett. It preserves and interprets the remains of the original European and Native American settlements on the Arkansas River, as well as the Civil War battle fought at the post and the countless people who once resided in the area. Arkansas Post was settled by French traders in 1686 and was the first permanent European colony in the Mississippi River Valley. A Quapaw Indian village called Osotouy was located nearby. The actual post was moved several times over the years due to flooding but remained in the same general area. The only battle of the American Revolution that was fought in Arkansas …

Arkansas Rice Festival

The Arkansas Rice Festival, held during the second weekend of October in Weiner (Poinsett County), was founded to promote the consumption of Arkansas rice and to celebrate Arkansas’s status as the number-one rice-producing state in the nation. It coincides with National Rice Promotion Month and the final days of the rice harvest in Arkansas. In 1976, a rice-tasting and rice-farming history exhibit was organized as part of the state’s contribution to the country’s bicentennial commemoration. The success of the event inspired a group of local citizens to plan a two-day festival. The Arkansas Rice Festival Board was formed in 1977 and officially incorporated as a nonprofit organization. Nine board members, including rice industry representatives, millers, farmers, and financial officers, served …

Arkansas River Visitor Center

The Arkansas River Visitor Center, dedicated on August 20, 1985, was designed to acquaint visitors with the Arkansas River, its history and culture, and its transformation into the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System. The visitor center is located in Russellville (Pope County) on Lock and Dam Road, three miles west of Highway 7. The visitor center was designed and constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Little Rock District, at the site of the Russellville Project Office. It overlooks the Dardanelle Lock and Dam and is operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Russellville Project Office. The Dardanelle Lock and Dam was a logical choice for the center as it is located near the mid-point of the navigation …

Arkansas Scottish Festival

The Arkansas Scottish Festival is held every April on the campus of Lyon College in Batesville (Independence County). It began as the Ozark Scottish Festival in 1981 at what was then known as Arkansas College. The festival has grown significantly and evolved over the years but remains emblematic of the college and its Presbyterian roots. The Arkansas Scottish Festival is now known as one of the premier Scottish festivals in the southern United States. Established by Dr. Ralph Graham during his tenure as vice president of institutional advancement, the festival was initially held on the athletic field in conjunction with homecoming but was later moved to April. Over time, it attracted more and more participants from all over the country. …

Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre

The Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre (AST) in Conway (Faulkner County) is Arkansas’s only professional Shakespeare theater company and is based at the College of Fine Arts and Communication at the University of Central Arkansas (UCA). Its mission is to enrich the community of central Arkansas through creating professional productions of William Shakespeare’s works and making them accessible to people of all ages and backgrounds. The AST was founded on December 1, 2006. The main catalyst behind the creation of the theater was Rollin Potter, who became dean of Fine Arts at UCA in 2004 and had previously served as professor of music and founding director of the School of the Arts at California State University at Sacramento. Potter appreciated the important …

Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame

The Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame is a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving the history of sports in Arkansas while honoring those who have played or coached in the state. The organization began in February 1958 when a group of prominent Arkansas businessmen began discussing the need for such an entity. On August 16, 1958, the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame was incorporated, with Little Rock (Pulaski County) construction executive Jack Pickens as its president. Pickens was the force behind the Hall of Fame in its early years, serving as president from 1958 to 1971. Other officers in 1958 were Milton Green as vice president, Cliff Shaw as treasurer, Warren Wood as legal counsel, and Allan Berry as secretary. The first …

Arkansas State Fair and Livestock Show

aka: Arkansas State Fair
The Arkansas State Fair and Livestock Show (usually just called the Arkansas State Fair) is an annual event sponsored by the Arkansas Livestock Show Association and held in Little Rock (Pulaski County). The fair features a midway/carnival, music concerts, a rodeo, commercial exhibits and displays, free shows (from exotic animals to acrobats and magicians), arts and crafts competitions and exhibits, food competitions and demonstrations, and various livestock competitions. It runs for ten days, usually in October, starting on a Friday and running through two weekends, ending on a Sunday night. The current Arkansas State Fair began in 1938, but there had been several other efforts over the years to establish a state fair. On November 6, 1867, the Arkansas State …

Arkansas Travelers [Baseball Team]

For parts of three centuries, the Arkansas Travelers baseball team has used only one nickname, played on only three home fields, and become owned by its fans, something unusual in professional sports—in 1960, shares were sold to fans to ensure that the team would not leave Little Rock (Pulaski County). In 1957, to draw fans from the entire state, management changed the name from the Little Rock Travelers to the Arkansas Travelers, making it the first professional team to be named after a state. In addition, five future National Baseball Hall of Famers played for the Travelers: Tris Speaker, Travis Jackson, Bill Dickey, Jim Bunning, and Ferguson Jenkins. The minor league team had many failures in the Southern Association and …

Arkansas Unit, Herb Society of America, Inc. (AU-HSA)

The Arkansas Unit of The Herb Society of America (AU-HSA), founded in Little Rock (Pulaski County) in 1966, has approximately forty members spread from the Little Rock area throughout the state. Its logo incorporates a cotton boll, symbolizing the regional historic importance of this herbal plant. AU-HSA is dedicated to promoting the knowledge, use, and delight of herbs through educational programs, research, and sharing the experience of its members with the community, and it lives up to this mission partly through its three gardens. The Territorial Medicinal Garden at the Historic Arkansas Museum features plants used in Arkansas’s territorial days, such as boneset, ground ivy, garlic, native senna, pokeweed, and selfheal, as researched by Mary Worthen. The Garden of Exploration …

Arkansas-Missouri League

aka: Arkansas State League
The Arkansas State League/Arkansas-Missouri League was a professional baseball, Class D minor league that operated from 1934 until 1940. The league was one of only three Depression-era leagues to exist in the state, the others being the Northeast Arkansas League and the Cotton States League. The Arkansas State League began on May 8, 1934. It paralleled a rapid growth in professional baseball minor leagues around the country and was a by-product of the farm system created by St. Louis Cardinals vice president, Branch Rickey, wherein the Cardinals organization sponsored and managed teams and players in order to develop players for the St. Louis major league team. The league began play with teams in Fayetteville (Washington County), Siloam Springs (Benton County), …

ATA Martial Arts

ATA Martial Arts, previously known as the American Taekwondo Association, was founded in 1969 by Haeng Ung Lee and is headquartered in Little Rock (Pulaski County). ATA has over 300,000 members worldwide, making it the largest organization in North America dedicated to the discipline of taekwondo. The organization maintains that its instructors and students live by its founder’s philosophy: “Today not possible, tomorrow possible.” After teaching taekwondo for several years at the U.S. Air Force base at Osan in South Korea, Haeng Ung Lee immigrated to the United States in 1962 at the invitation of Richard Reed, an American military officer and one of Lee’s top students. Frustrated by the inconsistent quality of taekwondo instruction in the United States, Lee …

Ausbie, “Geese”

aka: Hubert Ausbie
Hubert “Geese” Ausbie joined the Harlem Globetrotters basketball team in 1961 following a standout college career at Philander Smith College in Little Rock (Pulaski County). For the next twenty-four years, Ausbie played for the Globetrotters in more than 100 countries and became known as the “Clown Prince of Basketball” for his entertaining antics on the basketball court. Geese Ausbie was born in Crescent, Oklahoma, on April 25, 1938. He was one of eight children and the youngest son of Bishop and Nancy Ausbie. As a youth, Ausbie excelled in baseball, basketball, tennis, and track. He once scored seventy points in a basketball game for Crescent’s Douglas High School and helped lead Douglas to four straight Oklahoma Basketball State Championships. After …

Barnes, Jim “Bad News”

Velvet James (Jim) “Bad News” Barnes was an American basketball player and Olympic gold medalist originally from Tuckerman (Jackson County). Barnes enjoyed great success in his collegiate career, which later led him to be the first pick in the 1964 National Basketball Association (NBA) draft. As a professional athlete, Barnes played for five different teams over seven seasons until an Achilles tendon injury largely forced his retirement. Regarding the nickname “Bad News,” Boston Celtics coach Red Auerbach said he was so named “for the damage he did to opposing teams and players.” Jim Barnes was born on April 13, 1941, in Tuckerman. As a child, Barnes picked and chopped cotton and played basketball wearing socks, since his family was too …

Barnhill, John Henry “Barnie”

John Henry Barnhill was a successful head football coach both at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) but left the most lasting imprint in Fayetteville (Washington County) as UA’s athletic director. John Henry Barnhill was born on February 23, 1903, to James Monroe Barnhill and Margaret Alice Bryan in Savannah, Tennessee. His parents were farmers. Barnhill’s services were so greatly required on the family farm that they caused an interruption in his attending high school. He graduated from Savannah High School in 1923. He was nineteen when he enrolled at Memphis State University (now the University of Memphis) in 1923. He transferred to the University of Tennessee in 1924 and excelled …

Baseball Players, Major League

The game of baseball developed in the nineteenth century and became, along with hot dogs and apple pie, a classic element of American culture. Although the state of Arkansas has never been home to any major league team, Arkansas has contributed in many ways to the sport and its professional roster. While some players from other places developed and improved their skills as college or minor league baseball players in Arkansas (playing for teams such as the Arkansas Razorbacks or the Arkansas Travelers), more than 150 major league baseball players have been born in Arkansas. Earliest Players and Newest Players Chick Carroll is the earliest major league player born in Arkansas. Carroll played outfield in four games for the Washington …

Basketball

Basketball, a uniquely American invention in the history of sports, is one of the most popular sports in Arkansas, both for participants and for spectators. Because basketball can be played either indoors or outdoors, and because it requires less equipment than most team sports, basketball rapidly acquired the attention and affection of many Arkansans. Most high schools and colleges in the state field competitive basketball teams, and the state has produced several high-caliber professional basketball players. Basketball was invented in 1891 by James Naismith, who was seeking a form of recreation that would keep competitors active while indoors during the winter months. He introduced the sport in a Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) facility in Springfield, Massachusetts, in December of …