Recreation and Sports

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

Tate, John “Big John”

During the mid-1970s and early 1980s, John “Big John” Tate gained notoriety as a successful amateur and professional boxer. As a member of the U.S. Olympic team at the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal, Canada, Tate won a bronze medal in the heavyweight division. In 1979, Tate defeated Gerrie Coetzee to claim the World Boxing Association (WBA) heavyweight title. The WBA is an internationally recognized professional boxing organization. John Tate was born in West Memphis (Crittenden County) on January 29, 1955. The second of Bonnie Archer’s seven children, Tate did not know his father (Lavon Tate) and grew up in poverty. Tate struggled academically and left school in the seventh grade. Illiterate and unskilled, he toiled in a variety of …

Tate, Sonja Patrice

Sonja Patrice Tate, who played basketball at Arkansas State University (ASU) in Jonesboro (Craighead County) from 1989 to 1993, is one of the finest female athletes in the state’s history. As of 2014, she remains the scoring leader in basketball at ASU, with 2,312 points. In addition, Tate holds the single-season scoring record, with 820 points during the 1992–93 season. She has the top five single-game scoring performances at ASU. Tate also is the only ASU women’s player to have scored forty or more points in a game, a feat she accomplished five times. She returned to ASU prior to the 2012–13 basketball season to serve as an assistant coach for the women’s team. Sonja Tate was born on September 7, …

Tatum, Reece “Goose”

Reece “Goose” Tatum excelled at two sports, baseball and basketball, but is most famous for his basketball career with the Harlem Globetrotters. Known as “Goose” for his comic walk and for his exceptionally wide arm span, he is remembered more for his comic antics in games than for his athletic ability and accomplishments, which were considerable. Reece Tatum was born on May 3 or 31, 1921, in El Dorado (Union County) or Hermitage (Bradley County)—sources differ on his birth date and birthplace. His father, Ben, was a part-time preacher and part-time farmer who also worked at the local sawmill, while his mother, Alice, raised their seven children, of whom Reece was the fifth, and also served as a domestic cook. He …

Taylor Field

aka: Taylor Memorial Field
Taylor Field, located at 1201 East 16th Street in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), is a regulation-size baseball field featuring a U-shaped grandstand designed by architect Mitchell Seligman. Taylor Field was constructed in 1939 with assistance from the Works Progress Administration (WPA), a Depression-era federal relief agency. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on January 21, 2010. The Pine Bluff Judges of the Pine Bluff Baseball Club played their games at Missouri Pacific Park, built in 1930, until fire severely damaged it a year later. A new structure was erected, but after seven years it was in serious disrepair, leading local baseball boosters to turn to the WPA for assistance in constructing a new field and grandstand. …

Taylor, Jermain

aka: Lecester Jermain Taylor
Lecester Jermain “Bad Intentions” Taylor began boxing at the age of thirteen and has risen through the amateur and professional ranks to become one of the best boxers in the sport today. He won a bronze medal for boxing in the 2000 Olympics and became the undisputed middleweight champion in 2005, holding that title for two years and then regaining it in 2014, only to be stripped of it the following year. Jermain Taylor was born on August 11, 1978, in Little Rock (Pulaski County). Taylor’s father abandoned the family when Taylor was five years old, leaving his mother, Carlois, with Taylor and his three younger sisters. Taylor’s mother had to work long hours to support the family, leaving him to …

Timberfest

Timberfest is held the first weekend of October every year on the courthouse square in Sheridan (Grant County). Timberfest celebrates Sheridan and Grant County’s long involvement with the timber industry and is sponsored by the Grant County Chamber of Commerce. The idea for Timberfest began in 1982 when the Grant County Chamber of Commerce board of directors decided to combine the Blue Mountain Bluegrass Festival and the Merchants Fair into one festival. The first Timberfest was held in 1984 on the courthouse square in Sheridan. Since then, it has grown into a very large event. Around 1995, a lumberjack competition was added to the Timberfest activities. The funds raised by Timberfest are used for scholarships that are awarded to Grant …

Times-N-Traditions Festival

In the 1930s, Newark (Independence County) hosted Old Home Week, said to have been one of the state’s largest summer festivals. After several years, it was replaced by a three-day annual picnic known as the Old Settlers Reunion, which had ceased by the late twentieth century. In 1995, local business leaders initiated plans to develop a new festival, the Times-N-Traditions Festival (TNT). The festival, which is sponsored by the Newark Area Chamber of Commerce, began in 1995 as a Friday and Saturday event. While the previous festivals were held in downtown Newark, the TNT is held at the Newark City Park. Low attendance and competition with local Friday-night high school football resulted in a Saturday-only event. However, in 2014, a …

Toad Suck Daze

Toad Suck Daze is an annual spring festival in Conway (Faulkner County) that features arts and crafts vendors, live music, a variety of foods, and toad races for children. It is held on the streets of downtown Conway, where more than 150,000 people attend the three-day event. No admission is charged, and proceeds of the festival support Faulkner County residents attending colleges located in the county. While the festival is now one of the largest and most unique in Arkansas, it began as an idea John Ward had in 1982. Ward—managing editor of the Log Cabin Democrat, Conway’s local newspaper—wanted to raise the spirits of local residents experiencing the hard times of a recession and high interest rates. He thought …

Toltec Mounds Archeological State Park

Toltec Mounds Archeological State Park near Scott (Pulaski and Lonoke counties) is one of Arkansas’s most significant pre-European archaeological sites. Toltec, site of the state’s tallest Indian mounds, is also a National Historic Landmark. In 1812, Louis Bringier, a French explorer from New Orleans, Louisiana, traveled to present-day Arkansas and became the first European to discover the Toltec mounds. His description of the site’s “tolerably regular” alignment of mounds and the height of the two tallest mounds in contrast to the surrounding alluvial flatlands, the first such description, was reported in newspapers in 1821. William Peay Officer and his wife, Mary Eliza, purchased the area in 1849. There they maintained a residence, which they called Lake Mound Plantation and used …

Tomlinson, James Albert “Ike”

James Albert “Ike” Tomlinson was responsible for the revival of the athletics program at Arkansas State University (ASU) after World War II. An athlete who coached five sports, he served as ASU’s head baseball coach for thirty-two years, also serving as athletic director for three decades. He was named Associated Press National Coach of the Year and was selected for induction into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame. In 1993, ASU’s baseball complex, Tomlinson Stadium, was named in his honor. J. A. Tomlinson was born on November 17, 1910, to farmers Frank and Nora Tomlinson in Macon, Illinois. The youngest in his family of three brothers and one sister, he was nicknamed “Ike” as a child, and the childhood nickname …

Tontitown Grape Festival

The Tontitown Grape Festival is held each year in August as a celebration of the Italian heritage of Tontitown (Washington County). Featuring spaghetti dinners, carnival rides, arts and crafts booths, live music, and the crowning of Queen Concordia, the three-day festival is believed to be the longest-running annual community celebration in Arkansas. Tontitown was founded in 1898 by a group of Italian Catholic immigrants led by their priest, Father Pietro Bandini. At the end of June 1898, Tontitown settlers—who had cleared land and planted gardens, orchards, and vineyards—held a thanksgiving picnic in observance of the Feast of St. Peter, Father Bandini’s patron saint. The celebration was observed annually by Catholic families in Tontitown, and after a few years, an invitation …

Tourism

The term “tourism,” meaning “traveling as a recreation,” was not common in the nineteenth century, nor was the activity it denoted. By the year 2014, however, an estimated 26 million visitors to Arkansas spent approximately $6.7 billion annually in the state. Tourists come to Arkansas for its many sports and recreational opportunities, as well as its natural beauty. Arkansas tourism may have taken root even in the eighteenth century. The decorated buffalo robes the Quapaw made that ended up in the Musée de l’Homme in Paris, France, were, in Judge Morris S. Arnold’s judgment, tourist souvenirs. Arkansas—which, because of John Law’s Mississippi Bubble scheme, had international recognition—attracted daring tourists. While Thomas Nuttall and George William Featherstonhaugh came on business, Washington …

Tourist Camps, Tourist Courts, and Early Motels

Tourist camps and courts were a common form of lodging for travelers in the United States from the 1930s to the 1960s. The terms “tourist camp” and “tourist court” were used to describe both an individual cabin or room rented for the night and the business as a whole. In their early days, they typically consisted of stand-alone structures that looked and functioned like small houses, with as few as four units to rent. Those built during and after World War II were increasingly likely to be under a single roof in the form recognizable today as motels. Unlike earlier hotels that served mostly railroad passengers, tourist camps and courts evolved along roadways to accommodate the needs of the newly …

Trail of Tears National Historic Trail

In 1987, Congress created the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail (TOTNHT): “a trail consisting of water routes and overland routes traveled by the Cherokee Nation during its removal from ancestral lands in the East to Oklahoma during 1838 and 1839.” The Arkansas portion of this trail originally consisted of two routes of fifty-nine and 337 miles, respfectively, but was expanded in 2009. The TOTNHT is overseen by the National Park Service (NPS), aided by other concerned groups such as the Cherokee Nation and the Trail of Tears Association, the latter headquartered in Little Rock (Pulaski County). In 1987, the TOTNHT consisted of roughly 2,200 miles but only two paths: a land or northern route (826 miles) and a water …

Tri-State League

The Class D Tri-State League was established in 1925 and comprised teams in Arkansas, Mississippi, and Tennessee. In 1926, the league expanded into a fourth state, when Alabama’s Sheffield-Tuscumbia franchise joined the league. The National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues (NAPBL), the administrative agency of minor league baseball from 1901 to the present, sanctioned the league. At the time, the NAPBL’s classification structure ranged from Class A to D, with Class D being the lowest level of competition in professional baseball. Memphis, Tennessee, attorney John D. Martin was the league’s president for both seasons of its existence. Martin was an established minor league baseball executive and president of the Class A Southern League. The goal of the league was to …

Trumann Wild Duck Festival

The Trumann Wild Duck Festival is an annual festival held in Trumann (Poinsett County) on the last Saturday in September. It includes two days of music, food, arts-and-crafts vendors, softball games, beauty pageants, bingo, a car show, carnival rides, and a parade. A golf tournament is also held on the weekend prior to the festival. The event has its roots in the annual Singer Barbeque that was held each fall for the employees of the Singer Company in Trumann beginning in 1948. Trumann at the time was almost a company town, so the picnic brought out most of the residents, as well as county and state dignitaries. The Singer Barbeque was the brainchild of local facility manager Alfred Carlson. More …

Tuberville, Thomas Hawley (Tommy)

Tommy Tuberville was a successful college football coach who, in 2020, was elected as a Republican to the U.S. Senate from Alabama. Tuberville held the position of head coach at several major universities but began his career coaching high school football at Hermitage (Bradley County). His first college coaching position was in 1980 as an assistant at Arkansas State University (ASU) in Jonesboro (Craighead County). Thomas Hawley Tuberville, youngest of three children of Charles and Olive Tuberville, was born on September 18, 1954, in Camden (Ouachita County). He was raised in Ouachita County and graduated from Harmony Grove High School in 1972. He attended Southern State College (now Southern Arkansas University) in Magnolia (Columbia County), where he lettered for the …

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 …

Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge

Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge near Eureka Springs (Carroll County) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization providing lifetime homes for abandoned, abused, and neglected big cats and other endangered wildlife. With over 450 acres and more than 120 exotic cats, the refuge is one of the largest big cat sanctuaries in North America licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The sanctuary is rated a “Must See” attraction by the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism and is one of the most popular destinations in the Eureka Springs area. Don Jackson, a former employee of the Dallas Zoo, along with his wife, Hilda, and their daughter, Tanya Smith, founded the refuge in 1992. After a friend acquired a lion cub and realized …