Entry Category: Recreation

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 …

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 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 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 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 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 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 …

Bathhouse Row

Bathhouse Row Historic District extends along the foot of the mountain that gives rise to the thermal springs in Hot Springs National Park. Located in downtown Hot Springs (Garland County), the scene is dominated by the most recent of a succession of bathing buildings dating back to 1830. Bathhouse Row includes eight surviving bathhouses: the Hale, Maurice, Buckstaff, Fordyce, Superior, Quapaw, Ozark, and Lamar. The landscape features sculptured fountains, water displays, and the Grand Promenade. Bathhouse Row has become the architectural core for downtown Hot Springs. History The first structures in the area to take advantage of the thermal springs were likely the sweat lodges of local Native Americans, which were followed by an unplanned conglomeration of buildings subject to …

Bell Slough Wildlife Management Area

When Lake Conway was completed in 1951 in the Palarm Creek bottoms of southern Faulkner County, land for the development of the lake was left over, some of it being government surplus as part of Camp Joseph T. Robinson. Because the area was home to a wide variety of wildlife—deer, squirrels, and migrating ducks especially—the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC), which had overseen the creation of Lake Conway, created Bell Slough Wildlife Management Area (WMA), which encompasses Grassy Lake. Bell Slough WMA covers 2,040 acres and is a mix of moist-soil wetlands, bottomland hardwood forest, prairie, and upland hardwood and pine forest. The wetlands are managed as a waterfowl resting area, with water-control structures that allow the AGFC to …

Big River Crossing

aka: Harahan Bridge
The Harahan Bridge, which spans the Mississippi River to connect Memphis, Tennessee, with West Memphis (Crittenden County), was built in 1916 as a two-track railroad bridge and converted in 2016 to add a bicycle and pedestrian pathway, replacing one of the old abandoned auto roadways; the structure was renamed Big River Crossing. The Union Pacific Railroad owns the bridge and agreed to add the pathway, which was financed with a federal grant. The new pathway connects Main Street in Memphis to the Delta Regional River Park on the Arkansas side and to the Big River Trail. After completion, the Big River Trail, for use by pedestrians and bikers, will extend from the head waters of the river to the Gulf …

Biking

aka: Cycling
Arkansas is home to numerous dirt roads and trails for mountain biking, as well as paved paths and scenic highways for road biking, with nearly year-round use. The state hosts a number of noteworthy tours and competitions for all kinds of bicycling and for all levels of ability. Arkansas has a very popular series of mountain bike races for both experts and beginners through the Arkansas Mountain Bike Championship (AMBC) Series. Some of the better known are the Attila the Hun and the Womble (Trail) Mountain Bike Classic. Another popular mountain bike trail is the Syllamo trail system north of Mountain View (Stone County), with fifty miles of mostly single-track (wide enough for one bicycle) biking. A trail system at …

Birdwatching

aka: Birding
Birdwatching, also commonly called birding, is the hobby of observing wild birds. Involvement in the pursuit ranges from enjoying birds on backyard feeders to traveling thousands of miles, nationally or internationally, to see new and different species. Birdwatching is usually considered to be distinct from ornithology, which is the scientific study of birds, although there is considerable overlap between the two. Birdwatchers often keep records of when and where they saw different species. Many people keep records simply for the personal satisfaction of remembering interesting and unusual sightings. Records kept by amateur birdwatchers, however, have made significant contributions to ornithology by helping with the knowledge of bird distribution and abundance. Most birdwatchers keep a life list—a record of all the …

Black Fork Mountain Wilderness

The Black Fork Mountain Wilderness is located in the Ouachita National Forest in western Arkansas and eastern Oklahoma. At an elevation of 2,403 feet, the east-west-oriented Black Fork Mountain, formed by a geologic uplift, features rock screes, or flows. The large rock flows, sometimes called “glaciers,” and sandstone bluffs stand above a forest dominated by oak and shortleaf pine. The U.S. Congress designated 13,139 acres as the Black Fork Mountain Wilderness in 1984. Managed by the U.S. Forest Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and shared by Oklahoma and Arkansas (Arkansas has approximately 8,350 acres, while Oklahoma has approximately 4,789 acres), this area contains the thirteen-mile-long rugged ridge of Black Fork Mountain. In both states, the ridge rises to …

Blanchard Springs Caverns

Blanchard Springs Caverns (BSC) is a magnificent limestone cave system starting more than 200 feet underground in the Sylamore Ranger District of the Ozark–St. Francis National Forest, fifteen miles northwest of Mountain View (Stone County). The only cave administered by the U.S. Forest Service, it is considered one of the most beautiful in the country. Three guided tours through the caves are open to the public: the Dripstone Trail (open all year), the Discovery Trail (open during the summer), and the Wild Cave (open by special reservation). The limestone rock from which the cave developed was formed by fossilized sediment from sea creatures at the bottom of an ancient inland sea estimated to exist about 350–500 million years ago. When …

Botanical Garden of the Ozarks

The Botanical Garden of the Ozarks (BGO) in Fayetteville (Washington County) opened in 2007 on acreage leased from the City of Fayetteville. The nonprofit organization is the result of a grassroots effort to establish a botanical garden with a mission of offering education, entertainment, and recreation to adults and children through a variety of events, programs, classes, and community connections. The Botanical Garden of the Ozarks is a member of the American Horticulture Society—which allows BGO members reciprocal admission to gardens and arboretums across the country—and the American Public Gardens Association, which encourages involvement in gardening for all ages. The Botanical Garden Society of the Ozarks was incorporated in January 1994. The founder and first director was Donna Porter, who …

Boyle Park

Boyle Park was created when John F. Boyle (1874–1938) donated a 231-acre tract of land in the southwestern area of the city to the City of Little Rock in 1929. The park was later expanded to include 243 acres. The park begins at 26th Street and Boyle Park Road, and Rock Creek runs through the park. In the deed, Boyle stipulated that the land was to be allocated for recreational use. If the property ever ceased to be used as a park, the title of the land would revert back to the Boyle family. Boyle Park was the third of its kind in the city. It was preceded by MacArthur Park in downtown Little Rock (Pulaski County) and Allsopp Park …