Entries - Entry Category: Recreation - Starting with J

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’ 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 …

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 …

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. …

Josephine Tussaud Wax Museum

The Josephine Tussaud Wax Museum is a tourist attraction in downtown Hot Springs (Garland County) and the only wax museum in Arkansas. The museum was established in 1971 in the historic Southern Club building at 250 Central Avenue, directly across from the Arlington Hotel and straddling Hot Springs National Park. The museum features over 100 life-size wax figures of real and fictional characters and over thirty scenes, as well as gambling paraphernalia and an exhibit, a gift shop, and a seated 4D virtual reality ride. Josephine Tussaud (1900–1985) was the great-great-granddaughter of Marie Tussaud (1761–1850), a French wax sculptor and founder of the famous Madame Tussauds Wax Museum of London in 1835, but the establishment in Hot Springs is not …

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 …