Recreation and Sports

Entries - Entry Category: Recreation and Sports - Starting with J

Jackson, Keith Jerome

Keith Jerome Jackson is a former college and professional football player and current radio broadcast color analyst for University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) football. Jackson began working with the Arkansas Razorback Sports Network in 2000. Jackson is the founder of P.A.R.K (Positive Atmosphere Reaches Kids), a nonprofit after-school recreational and educational program for students. Keith Jackson was born on April 19, 1965, in Little Rock (Pulaski County) and grew up in a single-parent home with his mother, Gladys Jackson. He went on to become a successful high school athlete, earning letters in football, basketball, and track at Little Rock Parkview High School. A highly recruited football player, Jackson chose to play for head coach Barry Switzer at …

Jackson, Travis Calvin

Travis Calvin Jackson was one of six native Arkansans elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. He played for the New York Giants and was considered the best National League shortstop in the 1920s. Noted for his defense (which earned him the nickname “Stonewall”), he was also considered a clutch hitter. Travis Jackson was born on November 2, 1903, in Waldo (Columbia County) to William Calvin Jackson, a storekeeper, and Etta Farrar Jackson. As a teenager, Jackson played for a team at Ouachita Baptist College (now Ouachita Baptist University) and for a semipro team in eastern Arkansas, where Little Rock Travelers manager Kid Elberfeld scouted him late in the 1921 season. Baseball was beginning to be played on Sundays …

Jacksonport State Park

Jacksonport State Park lets visitors relive nineteenth-century Arkansas history—including the days of the pioneers, steamboats, the Civil War, Reconstruction, the Victorian Age, and the Industrial Revolution—through its various exhibits and interpretive programs. The 1872 courthouse serves as a museum, and the last sternwheeler riverboat to ply the White River is permanently moored nearby. Due to its location near the confluence of the Black and White rivers, Jacksonport became a trading center during the 1820s and thus was significant for the early settlement and economic development of Arkansas. The first steamboats arrived in 1833, and the town grew around the landing site. Jackson County, established in 1829, moved its seat of justice from Augusta (now in Woodruff County) to Jacksonport in …

Janet Huckabee Arkansas River Valley Nature Center

The Janet Huckabee Arkansas River Valley Nature Center, located in Fort Smith (Sebastian County) and named for first lady Janet Huckabee, is one of four nature centers owned and operated by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC). It interprets the natural environment of the Arkansas River Valley, as well as expands upon the mission of the agency, which is to manage the fish and wildlife resources in Arkansas while providing an enjoyable experience for visitors. The 14,000-square-foot nature center is located on 170 acres of land typical of the river valley, along with a twelve-acre manmade lake. The facility features exhibits interpreting the natural history of the area, and nature trails around the property give visitors a first-hand view. …

Jenkins, Ferguson Arthur (Fergie)

Fergie Jenkins was a major league pitcher in the 1960s, 1970s, and early 1980s. Over his nineteen-year major league career, the six-foot-five-inch right-hander established a reputation for consistency and durability. Jenkins pitched for the Arkansas Travelers in 1963, 1964, and 1965, and was only the second African American to play for the Travelers. He won a Cy Young Award in 1971 and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1991. Ferguson Arthur (Fergie) Jenkins Jr. was born on December 13, 1942 (although some records say 1943, Jenkins has always maintained that it was 1942) in Chatham, Ontario, Canada. He was the only child of Ferguson Arthur Jenkins Sr. and Delores Jenkins. Growing up in Chatham, Jenkins was a …

Jenkins’ Ferry State Park

Location: Grant County Size: 40 acres Jenkins’ Ferry State Park, in Grant County on the Saline River, commemorates a Civil War engagement that was part of the Camden Expedition of General Frederick Steele. The park contains interpretive exhibits, as well as a picnic area and a boat ramp for access to the river. The name of the park comes from Thomas Jenkins, who established a ferry on the Saline River in 1815. By 1861, at the beginning of the Civil War, the ferry was being operated by Jenkins’s sons, William and John DeKalb. In March 1864, General Steele led approximately 14,000 troops out of Little Rock (Pulaski County) to join in the Union army’s Red River Campaign. The goal of …

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 …

Johnny Cash Heritage Festival

The Johnny Cash Heritage Festival is an annual event held in Dyess (Mississippi County), the small town where Johnny Cash lived until he was eighteen years old. The festival, begun in October 2017, features several days of music, arts and crafts, scholarly lectures, and appearances by Cash family members and nationally known performers. The event is sponsored by the Cultural Heritage Program at Arkansas State University (ASU), headed by Dr. Ruth Hawkins. The festival is held in October, traditionally a month of good weather in northeastern Arkansas as well as the period when farmers are harvesting cotton. From 2011 to 2014, ASU held the Johnny Cash Music Festival in Jonesboro (Craighead County), featuring concerts by such country music luminaries as Rosanne …

Johns, Riley “Doc”

Riley “Doc” Johns was an African-American athletic trainer at Little Rock High School (now Little Rock Central High) from 1930 to 1950. He was also the groundskeeper and equipment manager for the school’s sports teams until his death seven years before the Central High Crisis of 1957. Riley Johns was born on September 14, 1895, in Fort Smith (Sebastian County) to Joseph Johns and Nettie Flynn Johns. He was the youngest of three sons that included Clarence (born 1891) and Percy Legette Johns (born 1892). His parents had lived in several northwestern Arkansas counties before settling in Fort Smith. During World War I, he was drafted into the military from Fort Smith and entered service on August 1, 1918. At …

Johnson County Peach Festival

The Johnson County Peach Festival arose from the area’s successful peach industry, which got its start in the 1890s. In 1893, James R. Tolbert and Johnson J. Taylor decided to purchase and grow Elberta peaches in Johnson County. Their success spread throughout the region into other states. In 1897, the Missouri Pacific Railroad Company became interested in this rising industry and, after negotiations, created a partnership including the peach farmers, the county, and the railroad. Despite financial and environmental setbacks over the years, the industry thrived and became an integral part of the county. Plans for a peach festival were discussed as early as 1937, but no festival was held until the summer of 1938. The first festival was held at …

Johnson, Billy Farrel (Bill)

Billy Farrel Johnson of Conway (Faulkner County) is a well-known banker, broadcaster, and civic leader in Faulkner County. He has served as president of three financial institutions, broadcast athletic events on the radio since 1961, served as a justice of the peace, and sat on numerous local and state boards. Johnson is also a development associate for the University of Central Arkansas (UCA) athletic department and raises money for the Purple Circle Club, the primary source of outside funding for UCA athletics. Bill F. Johnson was born on May 15, 1939, in Conway, one of two children of Hulon Johnson and Norma Warbritton Johnson. Johnson attended Conway public schools from elementary through high school and graduated in 1957. He then …

Johnson, James William (Jimmy)

James William (Jimmy) Johnson was a defensive end for the University of Arkansas (UA) Razorback football team and served as the head coach for Oklahoma State University and the University of Miami before going on to become head coach for the Dallas Cowboys and Miami Dolphins. Jimmy Johnson was born on July 16, 1943, in Port Arthur, Texas. He graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School, now known as Memorial High School, in 1961. A defensive end on the high school football team, Johnson continued in that position at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville (Washington County). An All-Southwest Conference player, he belonged to the 1964 team recognized by the Football Writers Association as the national champion. After graduating from UA …

Johnson, Joe Marcus

Joe Marcus Johnson is a professional basketball player for the Brooklyn Nets. In the 2012–13 season, Johnson averaged 16.3 points per game, third best on a team that entered the National Basketball Association (NBA) playoffs seeded fourth in the Eastern Conference. With about 16,000 points and counting, Johnson is the second-most prolific NBA scorer from Arkansas, as of 2013; Scottie Pippen of Hamburg (Ashley County) scored 18,940 points in seventeen seasons. Johnson, a six-time All Star, was a member of the U.S. national team in the FIBA World Championship in 2006. Joe Johnson was born on June 29, 1981, in Little Rock (Pulaski County), the only child of Sara Dianne Johnson. For most of his childhood, he was raised in a …

Jonquil Festival

The Jonquil Festival takes place the third weekend of March each year at Historic Washington State Park in Washington (Hempstead County). Along with people from surrounding communities, it attracts visitors from Louisiana, Texas, and Oklahoma who are eager to see the flowers, the crafts, and a culturally significant historic park covering the period from early settlement to Reconstruction. In 1966, a small tour around town during the March blooming of the jonquils (a type of daffodil) was started. In 1967 or 1968, the tour was established for one weekend and named the Jonquil Trail. What was then called Old Washington Historic State Park was established in 1973, and the park took over what had, by then, become the Jonquil Festival. …

Joyner, Alfredrick Alphonso (Al)

Alfredrick Alphonzo (Al) Joyner is a track and field star who won the gold medal at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles for the triple jump, the first American in eight decades to win the event and the first African American. He attended Arkansas State University (ASU), where he later returned as a coach, and was the winner of the prestigious Jim Thorpe award, honoring the best American field athlete at the Olympics. He married track legend Florence Griffith, who came to be known as “Flo Jo” after her marriage to Joyner. Al Joyner Jr. was born on January 19, 1960, in East St. Louis, Illinois, to Alfred and Mary Joyner, both then in their teens. Alfred Joyner Sr. worked …

Juneteenth

Juneteenth is a celebration held during the month of June in Arkansas and throughout the nation to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States. The celebration originated in Texas in 1865 to mark the date when the emancipation of slaves could finally be enforced by the Union army at one of the last outposts of formal chattel slavery. Although President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, the actual emancipation of the slaves came on different dates in different regions. In Galveston, Texas, for instance, it was on June 19, 1865, that a regiment of Union soldiers arrived and were able to enforce the freedom of enslaved peoples. June 19 became a day of celebration in …