Travelin’ Arkansas: Events Taking Place During May

No Gravatar

California-based travel writer and storyteller Jeff Greenwald will bring his acclaimed show “Strange Travel Suggestions” to Eureka Springs for the upcoming May Festival of the Arts. He will perform at 8 p.m. on May 1 at the Grand Central Hotel and show tickets are $20.

Part stand-up, part improvised monologue, his enthralling stories and witty insights are inspired by the vagaries of severe wanderlust. Audience members get into to the act – choosing topics by a spin of an elaborate and colorful wheel. Ranging from “The Ugly American” to “What’s That Smell?” the wheel’s topics determine which of his travel tales global trekker Greenwald will tell during any given performance.

Greenwald has been performing “Strange Travel Suggestions” off and on since 2003, mostly at The Marsh theater in San Francisco. At a recent performance there an audience member’s wheel spin landed on “Be Careful What You Wish For,” and Greenwald told several stories about Tibet involving yak butter tea, the country’s non-existent hygiene, sleeping in a field of stinging nettles and a skull-shaped lake whose waters reveal visions of the future.

The second pick from the bag was “Celestial Mechanics,” which led to an extraordinary tale of being the only American amid 50,000 Iranians in a crowded town square for the last solar eclipse of the 20th century.

Proceeds from his Eureka Springs performance will help establish a Travel Writing Fellowship at the Writers Colony at Dairy Hollow. The colony also will hold a reception/question and answer session/book signing with Greenwald from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on May 2 at the Dairy Hollow location on Spring Street.

Greenwald is the author of five best-selling travel books, including “Shopping for Buddhas,” “The Size of the World” (for which he created the first international blog), and “Scratching the Surface: Impressions of Planet Earth from Hollywood to Shiraz.” His stories and essays have appeared in various print and online publications—including The New York Times Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Outside and Salon.com. Jeff is also Executive Director of Ethical Traveler, a global alliance of travelers dedicated to human rights and environmental protection (www.ethicaltraveler.org).

Purchase tickets online at www.rareclick.com/jeff or at the door the night of the performance.

********************

Spend three days enjoying music and fun as Village Creek State Park in Wynne hosts Pickin’ in the Park on May 1-3. Bring your lawn chair and your musical instrument if you play, and listen to bluegrass, gospel and country music. For more information, contact Village Creek State Park at 870-238-9406.

********************

The Historic Arkansas Museum’s monthly program – Step Back Saturdays – will focus on Pioneer Toys during the month of May. Each Saturday a half-hour presentation will demonstrate various types of toys favored by frontier children. Discover what playtime was like in the 1800s along with everyday living and how much times have changed. The programs are at 10:45 a.m., 11:45 a.m., 1:45 p.m., 2:45 p.m. and 3:45 p.m. Ellen Korenblat with the Historic Arkansas Museum can provide additional information at 501-324-9351 or info [at] historicarkansas [dot] org. The museum is located in downtown Little Rock at 200 East Third Street.

********************

Starting May 1, the Randolph County Heritage Museum in Pocahontas will celebrate Arkansas Heritage Month with a new exhibit entitled The Life and Times of Governor Thomas S. Drew. The exhibit chronicles Drew’s life, which was filled with adventure and controversy. To learn more, contact the Randolph County Heritage Museum at 870-892-4056 or visit www.RandolphCoMuseum.org.

********************

The City of Melbourne will host their annual Izard County Pioneer Days on May 2-3. Join past and present residents for two days of activities, including a parade, a rodeo, great food and musical entertainment. For more information, contact the city of Melbourne at 870-368-4215.

********************

Several spring arts and crafts fairs are planned in the Northwest Arkansas area during early May. Admission is free to the fairs and each offers slightly different hours of operation and varieties of artisans’ wares.
* Round the Square Craft Fair, May 1-2, historic square, Bentonville. Family-friendly with live music and crafters offering handcrafted items with a wide appeal in an outdoor setting. 479-254-0254; www.downtownbentonville.org
* Spanker Creek Farm Arts & Craft Fair at the Clarion, May 2-4, Clarion Inn, Bentonville. An indoor event, it offers unique shopping for arts, crafts and other items. 479-685-5655; www.spankercreekfarm.com
* Spanker Creek Farm Arts & Craft Fair, May 2-4, Spanker Creek Farm, Bentonville. An outdoor event, fair-goers can shop for arts and crafts and enjoy demonstrations, favorite foods, entertainment and beautiful scenery. 479-685-5655; www.spankercreekfarm.com.
* 3rd annual Turpentine Creek Spring Arts and Crafts Fair, May 2-4, Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge, Eureka Springs. Open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day with a variety of vendors offering one-of-a-kind crafts. 479-253-3790; www.turpentinecreek.org
* War Eagle Mill Arts & Crafts Fair, May 2-4, War Eagle Mill, Rogers. More than 50 artists, craftsmen and antique dealers will open their booths to customers from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The Mill will open at 7 a.m. with a full country breakfast. 479-789-5343; www.wareaglemill.com

********************

To celebrate the city’s self-proclaimed status as “Mid-America’s Art Capital,” more than 100 studio walks, gallery strolls, and shows are scheduled as part of the 21st annual Eureka Springs May Festival of the Arts.

Many galleries have month-long exhibits and there will be city-wide art competitions. Events are planned for every day of the month, from the kick-off party in Basin Park May 1 to the four-day finale, Blues Weekend on May 29-June 1. Koko Taylor, the “Queen of the Blues,” and Native American blues band Indigenous will headline shows at the City Auditorium and dozens of other blues acts will be featured that weekend at local clubs, hotels and pubs. Besides the Blues Weekend events, more than 50 other concerts and music shows are scheduled during the month, including the Pine Mountain Jamboree and Ozark Mountain Hoe-Down shows. Plenty of folk, bluegrass, country, rock, Native American and Christian music will be heard as well. There will be 14 days of free music in Basin Park. The Basin Park shows are scheduled for Saturdays and Sundays starting at noon.

Two parades, two auto shows, one grand opening, and one inaugural competition are also scheduled in May. Just in time for this year’s festival, the world’s largest outdoor drama will unveil its newly revised script when the Great Passion Play, celebrating its 40th anniversary, has its grand opening on May 2.

Of course, it wouldn’t be May in Eureka Springs without parades. The May 3 ARTrageous Parade and the Art Car Parade on May 24 both start at 2 p.m. Live theater, comedy, variety, dance, magic and aerial shows are also included in this year’s festival as well as numerous other events. For details, call 866-947-4387 or go to www.eurekasprings.org

********************

The Heritage Herb Spring Extravaganza, set for May 2-3 at the Ozark Folk Center State Park in Mountain View, is a garden festival to learn to plant, grow and use herbs. May 2 is dedicated to hands-on harvesting and preparation for a Lavish Herbal Cookout. Participants will cut, clean and eat the herbs while gaining an understanding of the history and constituents of these plants. The May 3 workshop will answer questions about growing and caring for plants. Special activities will also take place May 7-10 during National Herb Week. For more information, phone 870-269-3851 and visit www.ozarkfolkcenter.com.

********************

The 38th Annual World Famous Armadillo Festival takes place May 2–4 in Hamburg. Festivities in the town square include a carnival, live music, arts and crafts, pageant, children’s games, pet show, 5K race/one-mile walk, children’s fun run, art show, crawfish boil, and more. For more information, call 870-835-8345 or visit www.armadillofestival.com.

********************

“Toad-al” fun abounds in Conway as the town holds its 27th Annual Toad Suck Daze May 2-4. Musical headliners for this year are Blake Shelton, Shaw Blades and Natalie Grant. Popular events are the Stuck on a Truck contest, a 5K/10K race, the Toadal Kids Zone, Toad Suck SuperStar competition and the World Famous Toad Races. In addition there will be carnival rides, arts, crafts, concessions, sporting competitions in softball, basketball, golf and the Toad de Toad bicycle ride. Admission to this downtown Conway event is free. For a complete schedule of events visit www.toadsuck.org/

********************

“Bugs, Bands & Bikes,” the 9th Annual Crawfish Boil & Battle of the Bands will take center stage in El Dorado May 3 at Oil and Heritage Park. The festival features hundreds of motorcycles, the region’s best crawfish and 16 bands on 2 stages battling it out. The event also hosts the return of the “Mel’s Seafood Celebrity Crawfish Eating Contest.” For more information call 870-862-4747.

********************

The 2nd Annual Wine, Food & Art Extravaganza hits Hot Springs May 3 on Bathhouse Row. Enjoy an enchanting evening of wine and food tasting, art and floral displays in the lobbies of the eight historic bathhouses on Bathhouse Row in Hot Springs National Park. For more information, call 501-624-6020.

********************

Explore the history of downtown Augusta as the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program hosts a Walk Through History tour of Augusta on May 3. The event is co-sponsored by the Woodruff County Historical Society. For more information, contact the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program at 501-324-9880 or visit www.arkansaspreservation.org.

********************

From 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on May 3, the Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park will offer Spring Planting and Caring for Herbs workshops in its Heritage Garden. The park’s Heritage Garden teaches about the diversity of foods used in the 1860s during the time of the Civil War. All plant varieties in this garden were grown during that time and are now heirloom varieties. Learn about compost methods, building and installing garden structures, bed preparation, planting and germination. Information will also be provided on basic herb gardening, how to choose plants, site preparation, propagation, harvesting and use of herbs. Plant seeds and plant transplants will be available for purchase. A lunch of beans and cornbread will be offered, or bring a sack lunch. Admission is $5. For more information, contact the park at 479-846-2990.

********************

The 30th annual Springtime Gala in Altus will be May 3 in the city park. Activities include a 5K run and fun walk, arts & crafts show, live entertainment, games, antique car and truck show, rides, food booths, Prince and Princess contest and more. Admission is free. For more information, phone 479-468-4684.

********************

Jonesboro Parks and Recreation will host their annual Mr. Trophy Triathlon at Craighead Forest Park in Jonesboro on Saturday, May 3. The event features a 500-meter swim, a 13-mile bike ride and a three-mile run. The triathlon is a great test for both the seasoned triathlete and beginner. The course follows the rolling hills of Crowley’s Ridge. On May 10, the 2008 Jonesboro Kids Triathlon will be held and will include swimming, biking and running. For more information, call (870) 933-4604 or visit www.jonesborosports.org.

********************

The 4th annual Syllamo’s Revenge Mountain Bike Challenge will be May 3 in Mountain View. Forty plus miles of mountain biking through the Ozark Mountains will offer changing scenery and beautiful views of the White River Valley, Sylamore Creek Valley and the Ozark Mountains. Contact Steve Park at 501-327-7391 or visit www.syllamosrevenge.com for more information.

********************

The 29th annual North Arkansas Woodcarvers Show and Sale will be May 3-4 at the Baxter County Fairgrounds in Mountain Home. It is the largest show in northern Arkansas featuring whittlers, woodcarvers, wood turners, supplies and tool vendors, demonstrations and whittling competition. There will also be purchase awards and a judged competition with ribbons and cash awards for novice to professional. Admission is free. For more information, contact Sandy Smith at 870-431-8070 or visit www.northarkansaswoodcarvers.org.

********************

Mammoth Spring State Park in Mammoth Spring will host a Dutch Oven Cooking Workshop on May 3. The hands-on workshop will teach the basics of Dutch oven cooking and participants will prepare dishes with the skills they learned. Space is limited pre-registration is suggested. For details, call Mammoth Spring State Park at 870-625-7364 or visit www.ArkansasStateParks.com.

********************

The Piggott Area Chamber of Commerce will host the Piggott Art Festival on the courthouse square on May 3. The day will feature an art show and sale, a sidewalk chalk art competition featuring local schoolchildren and live entertainment. In conjunction with the event, Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum will host Young at Heart Vi, a student art competition. For more information, phone the Piggott Area Chamber of Commerce at 870-598-3167.

********************

Main Street Blytheville will host Springtime on the Mall on May 3. The event will be held on Blytheville’s historic Main Street. The day will feature arts, crafts, children’s events, music, food, a dog show and fun for the entire family. For more information, contact Main Street Blytheville at 870-763-2525.

********************

Birders’ Weekend is set for May 3-4 at Devil’s Den State Park in West Fork. With spring migration at its peak, this is an ideal time to observe many bird species. Guided hikes, a live raptor demonstration and interpretive programs are scheduled activities. For more information, phone 479-761-3325. Admission is free.

********************

Books in Bloom, a free literary festival in its fourth year, will take place from noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday, May 4 on the grounds of the 1886 Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs. This year’s line up of authors for Books in Bloom includes three authors who have had books on the New York Times Bestsellers List.

In addition to talks in the conservatory from featured authors, the gardens of the hotel will be filled with kiosks where talented authors from throughout the region will be available to meet fans, sign books, and present readings throughout the day.

In fact, Michael Palmer’s medical-themed thrillers routinely make a showing there. His latest, “The First Patient,” debuted at No. 10 just six days after publication in early March. Publisher’s Weekly described the book as: “Endlessly entertaining . . . The roller-coaster ride of a plot builds to an undeniably shocking conclusion.” Bill Clinton even contributed a blurb to the book. The author lives in Massachusetts, but as a boy spent time with grandparents near Bull Shoals Lake, and he admitted that this played a role in deciding to accept an invitation to speak at Books in Bloom.

J.A. Jance is another author whose books regularly make the NYT Bestsellers list. She sets many of her fast-paced mysteries in the desert Southwest, and endows them with a dry wit that keeps fans coming back for more.

Stephen R. Donaldson is the third author to see his books on the NYT list. His fantasy novels have made him something of a cult figure among connoisseurs of the genre, and his first book after a long hiatus will be showcased at the festival

Carolyn Hart, another featured author, lives and writes in Oklahoma City, and has won numerous honors and awards for her literary mysteries. Her new book arrives just in time to be available at Books in Bloom. Another celebrated author attending the festival is Donald Harington, who also has a long-awaited new edition that further explores the fictional Ozark hamlet of Staymore, Arkansas.

A project of the Carroll and Madison Public Library Foundation, Books in Bloom is a free homegrown literary festival that offers a uniquely informal atmosphere. What began as an effort to raise awareness about the importance of reading and books has become a much-anticipated opportunity to meet acclaimed authors and discover new favorites as well. Marty and Elise Roenigk, owners of the 1886 Crescent Hotel and the 1908 Basin Park Hotel, generously underwrite the Books In Bloom festival.

For more information on this year’s festival, visit www.BooksinBloom.org or contact Jean Elderwind at 870-423-5300. The Carroll and Madison Public Library Foundation is a tax-exempt organization that welcomes donors and sponsors.

********************

“Elderhostel, An Ozark Experience” will be offered May 4-9 and May 18-23 at the Ozark Folk Center State Park in Mountain View. Immerse yourself in tradition as you take an unhurried view of the Ozark Mountain region. Raft the lazy White River, walk in the Ozark National Forest, see a gristmill and cotton gin, witness living history, visit with artisans and musicians and more. Register at www.elderhostel.org. For more information, phone 870-269-3851 or visit www.ozarkfolkcenter.com.

********************

The 13th annual Greening of the Garden will be May 8 at the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks in Fayetteville. This year’s theme “Green is Grand” will illustrate the marriage of elegance and sustainability. Guests will enjoy music as they stroll the multiple gardens around the grounds, hors d’ oeuvres, drinks, dinner, dessert, a raffle, and open bidding on live auction items. Tickets will be $50 if purchased prior to the event and $60 if purchased the day of the event and are available online and at the Garden, which contains nine themed gardens and water features. For more information, phone 479-750-1920 or visit www.bgozarks.org.

********************

Marion will host the 16th Annual Esperanza Bonanza Festival on May 8-10. The festival features a barbecue cooking contest, carnival, rodeo, live music and games for children and adults. For more information, call 870-739-6041.

********************

A scrimshaw workshop will be held May 8-9 at the Ozark Folk Center in Mt. View. In this class, you will learn the basics of scrimshaw as the sailors on the old whaling ships practiced it. Instructor Tom Weir has been producing scrimshawed objects for about 30 years. He started on powder horns, and has worked on everything from antler and bone to fossilized ivory. Stylus, easel and materials are included in the materials fee. Bring jewelers glasses and an Exacto knife if possible. The class fee is $100 with a deposit of $30. The materials fee is $25.

The workshop is in conjunction with Hammer – a celebration of the centuries old craft of Blade Smithing to be held May 12 featuring vendors, competitions and special guest demonstrations. For more information, phone 870-269-3851 and visit www.ozarkfolkcenter.com.

********************

Bald Knob is the place for the 21st Annual Homefest on May 8-10. Enjoy carnival rides, a parade on Saturday morning, food, games for all ages and live entertainment. To learn more, phone 501-724-3140.

********************

The Joe Martin Stage Race is set for May 8-11 throughout the Fayetteville area. There will be more than 700 athletes from 17 countries and more than 40 states competing this year. With three Pro/elite categories and eight amateur categories this year’s race will have something for everyone.

Spectators and racers are encouraged to help celebrate this 31st year of racing in northwest Arkansas. When the late Joe Martin began the Fayetteville Spring Classic cycle race in 1978, he might not have realized it would become one of the longest and continually held races in the country. Renamed after Martin’s death in 1988, the race has become one of the premier events on the National Race Calendar. The JMSR is one of only two events in Arkansas on the NRC. The NRC is the pro and elite amateur cycling tour of USA Cycling. USA Cycling is the national governing body for cycling, operating under the United States Olympic Committee.

For more information, phone Bruce Dunn at 479-521-7766 or visit www.joemartinstagerace.com. In addition to racing details, the Web site provides information on spectator viewing areas.

********************

Studio 62 in Eureka Springs is gearing up for the 3rd annual Art as Prayer Exhibition — its invitational show coinciding with the city’s May Festival of the Arts and the National Day of Prayer. The artist’s reception will be held at Studio 62 on Ark. 62 West from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday, May 9.

The popular and eclectic show presents the theme in a wide range of artistic interpretations by artists of various faiths. The scope of works in previous years has included prophetic art, biblical paintings, three dimensional shrines, traditional figurative paintings, photographs and found-art sculptures.

This year’s exhibit promises a pleasing mix of genres from both established artists and new invitees. Returning artists include Ron Lutz, Jody Stephenson, Dee Landerman, Gerry and Rosalie Toler, Brandon Hudson, John Willer, Mary Springer and Carol Peacock. Scott Broyles, Mike Butler, Mel Shipley, John Rankine, and Sara and Terry Russell are among the first-time exhibitors.

Jody Stephenson will be unveiling her new series of prophetic paintings and featuring her recently published book “Faltering Towards Perfection: Art, Faith, and Everything In Between.” A new feature this year will be works by the Christian Creative Writers Group, which meets weekly at Studio 62.

The entire 2008 exhibit will be posted on the new Web site www.Fellowship-of-Christian-Artists-and-Writers.com after the first week of May. An extended online version of the exhibition will be ongoing throughout the coming year. Christian artists and writers are invited to participate. Plans are currently under development for online multimedia presentation of performance art as well. For more information, visit www.studio62.biz.

********************

Toltec Mounds State Park at Scott will host a Star Gazing gathering on May 9 from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. This off-the-beaten path archeological park provides a perfect backdrop for viewing the night skies. A park interpreter guides visitors through the spring constellations and shares Native American stories while exploring the site in a whole new way. Space is limited, reservations are required. Participants may wish to bring a blanket or lawn chair for sitting while observing stars. Admission is $4 for adults, $3 for children. The park is located at 490 Toltec Mounds Road off U.S. 165. Call 501-961-9442 or e-mail toltecmounds [at] arkansas [dot] com for more information.

********************

The 12th Annual Rough and Ready Days Festival will be held in Monticello at McCloy City Park on May 9-10. The festival celebrates the rich heritage of the Arkansas Delta and will feature a fishing derby, children’s games, a 5K run, an egg drop competition, an antique car show and a chicken cook-off. To find out more, contact the Monticello Drew County Chamber of Commerce at 870-367-6741 or visit www.montdrewchamber.com.

********************

The legendary Preservation Hall Jazz Band from New Orleans will be the special guest at a May 9 and 10 concert of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra. From the heart of the French Quarter comes the authentic sound of traditional New Orleans jazz. Charter members of the group played with Jelly Roll Morton and Louis Armstrong, a legacy that continues today in songs like “Tiger Rag,” “A Closer Walk With Thee,” and “When the Saints Go Marchin’ In.” Ticket prices start at $16. The performance will be in Little Rock’s Robinson Center Music Hall located at Markham and Broadway. Contact the Arkansas Symphony by e-mail at tickets [at] ArkansasSymphony [dot] org or by phone at 501-666-1761 for more details.

********************

The 19th annual Yell Fest will be May 9-10 at Riverfront Park in Dardanelle. There will be numerous activities for the whole family — carnival, 5K run, crafts, food vendors, antique car show, Ugly Dog contest, fireworks, horseshoe tournament, rock wall, musical entertainment, yelling contest, Little Miss and Mister pageant and kids’ games. For more information, phone 479- 229-3328 or visit www.dardanellechamber.com. Admission is free.

Another Dardanelle event which kicks-off in May is the 5th annual Music on the Square. It is held every Saturday at 7 p.m. from May 10-Sept. 13. About 450 to 600 area citizens and visitors congregate to enjoy an evening of music, door prizes and concessions. For more information, phone 870-404-6347. Admission is free.

********************

The Ozark Birders’ Springtime Retreat will be May 9-11 at Bull Shoals-White River State Park in Bull Shoals. The retreat offers activities for everyone from beginner to advanced birders including guided walks, evening programs, basic birding clinics, lake and river cruises and children’s programs. Admission is free except for the lake and river cruises. For more information, phone 870-445-3629.

********************

On May 10, Withrow Springs State Park in Huntsville will hold a War Eagle Creek Appreciation Day. A full day of activities is planned to increase awareness and appreciation of War Eagle Creek. An interpretive canoe and kayak trip, educational booths and music will be offered. For more information, phone 479- 559-2593. Admission is free.

********************

The 26th annual Kingston’s Fair on the Square will be May 10. Activities will include craft booths, art, parade, music, food, children’s activities, clown, book sale, Dutch oven cook-off, magic show and door prizes all day. For more information, phone 870-420-3731. Admission is free.

********************

Get ready to hit the water as Mammoth Spring State Park offers a Kayaking 101 Workshop on May 10. Learn the basics of kayaking and paddling maneuvers and safety information. Kayaks, life jackets and paddles will be provided. Space for the workshop is limited and pre-registration is required. For more information, call 870-625-7364 or visit www.ArkansasStateParks.com.

********************

Calico Rock will host Homecoming Day on May 10 in King City Park. The day will feature a variety of fun family events, including crafts, food items, music, games, fire department water wars and an antique car show. To learn more information, call 870-297-4129.

********************

The 18th annual Wal-Mart CMN Open Buddy Bass Tournament will be May 10 at Lake Dardanelle State Park in Russellville. Cash prizes will be paid for first through 10th place. Proceeds will benefit the Arkansas Children’s Hospital. The event is sponsored by Wal-Mart’s distribution center and Copher’s Marine of Fort Smith. For more information, phone 479-452-4143. The tournament entry fee is $80 per boat and includes a big bass pot.

********************

Hot Springs hosts the 6th Annual Art in the Park May 10–11 in Hollywood Park. The regional fine arts and crafts festival will feature Arkansas/Texas artists from over 20 cities selling and demonstrating their art. Entertainment, food, a youth art area, and a recycled sculpture contest will also take place along with Bark in the Park for 4-legged friends. For more information call Hot Springs Parks and Recreation at 501-321-6871

********************

Old Timers Days is set for May 10-11 on historic Main Street in Van Buren. More than 200 exhibitors from more than seven states will attend. Activities include a variety of food and entertainment plus a children’s carnival. Admission is free and the event will be held rain or shine. For more information, phone 479-474-4392 or visit www.vanburen.org.

Also this month will be the Pioneers Days Parade on May 24 down Van Buren’s historic Main Street. The parade will feature local riding clubs. The parade is part of the Crawford County Festival to be held May 24-26 in Van Buren. This three-day arts and crafts festival will be held at Lake Lou Emma Park located just north of Interstate 40 on Ark. 59. There will be more than 50 vendors from a three-state area plus a carnival for the kids. For more information phone 479-474-8322 or visit www.vanburen.org. Admission is free.

********************

Kids of all ages will enjoy the 19th Annual Loose Caboose Festival in Paragould slated for May 15-17. Live music, carnival rides and kids’ games will be featured throughout the three-day event. Great food is also a staple at Loose Caboose. Spend the afternoon and evening enjoying great family fun! To learn more, phone 870-240-0544 or visit www.loosecaboose.net.

********************

The Wal-Mart FLW Tour and Wal-Mart Open will be May 15-18 in Rogers. Portions of the event will take place at Beaver Lake and the John Q. Hammons Center. The tour and open is a traditional stop on the FLW Tour, which features bass fishing’s biggest names battling for a top cash prize of $200,000. The Family Fun Zone at the John Q. Hammons Center provides families the chance to review the latest products from sponsor companies as well as participate in activities for children. For more information, phone Dave Washburn at 270-252-1607 or visit www.flwoutdoors.com.

********************

For 2008, the Tri-Peaks Challenge Stage Race and the Celebrity Classic Criteriums have combined forces to form the inaugural Tour of Arkansas Stage Race. This 350 mile, four-stage race is set for May 15-18 in the Arkansas River Valley.

On Thursday, May 15, stage one kicks off the EPIC Road Race over 110 miles of scenic Ozark Mountain highways. Throw 10,592 feet of climbing into the mix and you have all the ingredients for an EPIC start to this years Tour of Arkansas. Stage two on Friday, May 16 is 98 miles in length, 5,500 feet of climbing and includes a never before used climb up the eastern slopes of Petit Jean Mountain. The stage then ends in a mountain top finish of Mt. Nebo, which has three miles of switchbacks and savage grades of 18 percent or more. On Saturday, May 17, stage three has 97 miles and 6,600 feet of climbing and starts and finishes on top of Arkansas’s tallest peak, Mt. Magazine at 2,753 feet. This year the race will descend the north side into Paris and head toward Ozark on the Arkansas River. The race will then swing due south toward Booneville and Havana before ascending Mt. Magazine from the south. The final 10 miles in to the highest point in Arkansas will be a steady 6 percent to 8 percent grade.

A new stage and venue for the Tour of Arkansas, this year historic downtown Van Buren will play host to the final stage of the event on Sunday, May 18. Stage four will utilize much of the same criterium course as used by the Celebrity Classic Criterium. However, the course will probably be extended due to the expected capacity field size.

Following on the heals of the Joe Martin NRC Stage Race May 8-11 in Fayetteville, the Tour of Arkansas will top off a fine two weeks of national quality racing in Arkansas. Online pre-registration is required at www.tour-of-arkansas.com. There will be no registration available at the event.

********************

Fourche River Days will take place on the Perryville courthouse square on May 16-17. The event will include food, music, arts and crafts, games and more. Admission is free. For more information, phone 501-889-1571 or visit www.perrycountyareachamber.org.

********************

Celebrate the rich musical heritage of the Arkansas Delta as Main Street Osceola hosts the 10th Annual Osceola Heritage Music Festival on May 16-17. Music will range from blues to country to classic rock to alternative rock – everyone can find their type of music at the festival. For more information, contact Main Street Osceola at 870-563-6177 or visit www.osceolamainstreet.com.

********************

Crawfish, crawfish and more crawfish is what you’ll find as Dermott hosts their 25th Annual Crawfish Festival on May 16-17. The two-day festival also features nightly live music, a street dance, children’s rides, arts and crafts….and crawfish! To find out more, phone 870-538-5656.

********************

The 7th Annual JUMP! JIVE! & JAMfest! swings through Texarkana May 16–17 at Celebration Square. Music, art, food, and fun for all ages are on the agenda for the awards-winning celebration of the vibrant arts-filled community. Events range from the quirky ArtsParade to an artists’ bazaar, to enjoying the sounds of national headliners. For more information, call 903-792-4992 or visit www.trahc.org.

********************

Magnolia hosts the 20th Annual Magnolia Blossom Festival & World Championship Steak Cook-Off May 16-17 in Downtown Square. Enjoy an annual juried sidewalk art show and sale, 5K run, arts and crafts, fishing tournament, antique car show, motorcycle show, food vendors, carnival, gospel singing, Parade of Steak Cookers, dog show, live local entertainment, professional entertainment Saturday evening, World Championship Steak Cook-off (must have ticket). For more details, call 870-234-4352 or check out blossomfestival.org.

********************

May 17 is the date for the 5th Annual Choo Choo Ch’Boogie Delta Music Festival in Brinkley. From noon to midnight you’ll find live music, great food and events for all ages at the Central Delta Depot Museum. For details, phone 870-734-1056.

********************

Tons of food and Old Word traditions reign at the 24th Annual Greek Food Festival scheduled for May 16-18 at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Little Rock. A combination of Greek and Middle Eastern cuisines are served and for sale with a limited drive-through menu. An Indoor Old World Market offers fine imports, artwork, pastries and a coffee bar. There will also be an abundance of live entertainment, including costumed dancers from the Greek-American Folkdance Society and more. There will be guided tours of the church along with children’s activities and rides. Hours are 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and noon-6 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free. The chuck is located at 1100 Napa Valley Drive. The festival Web site — www.greekfoodfest.com/ — has a detailed schedule of events.

********************

The Arkansas Championship Muzzleloading Shoot will be May 16-18 at Luther Owens Park in Berryville. A variety of black powder competitions for pistols, rifles and shotguns, this is a traditional event with deep roots in the region. For more information, phone 870-423-3704 or visit www.berryvillear.com. Admission is free to spectators. There are entry fees for particular events.

********************

Attended by thousands each year, the Crawdad Days Music Festival in Harrison is held the third weekend of May around the banks of Lake Harrison and the downtown historic square. This year the festival will be May 16-18.

The Crawdad Days Music Festival began 17 years ago as a one-day event. It now offers something for the entire family and vendors include food, crafts, clothing items and the star attraction – crawfish. Activities will include a 5K run, a fishing derby, cardboard boat race, horseshoe tournament, car show and Crawdad eating contest.

Musical performances begin at 7:30 p.m., May 16 with The World Famous Platters. May 17th’s lineup begins at 10 a.m. and includes: James White, LiveWire, SAVAS, Legacy, Twilight Sloan, Jed Clampit, Riverbilly and Hayseed Dixie.

On Saturday, May 18, there will be a Crawdad Days Motorcycle Show. Sanctioned by the American Motorcyclist Association and sponsored by Silent Bonez AMA Charter 2658, proceeds will benefit the Ozark Humane Society. All bikes are welcome with a $10 entry fee and spectator admission is free. Trophies will be awarded for the top three places across 13 divisions – Sportster, Soft Tail, Cruiser, American Touring, Hard Tail, Pre-66, Metric Cruiser Under 800cc, Foreign Sport, Trike, Rat Bike, Metric over 800cc, Custom Built, Peoples Choice. Door prizes, a drawing and vendors will be available.

For more information, phone 870-741-2659 or visit www.harrison-chamber.com. Admission is free.

********************

Outdoor Adventure Series: Birding Basics Weekend takes place in Hot Springs May 16–18 at Lake Catherine State Park. Everything at the park is bird-related this weekend. Interpreters will lead birding lake tours, evening programs, bird feeder/house building activities, and guided hikes for all ages. You can help scout out the local birds and learn to identify them. Bring binoculars if you have them. Some programs will require pre-registration and/or a fee. This is an Arkansas State Parks 75th anniversary event. Please check with the park for more information. For more information, call 501-844-4176.

********************

The 7th Annual Big Woods Birding Festival will be held May 17 at the historic Courthouse in Clarendon. Come and celebrate the natural beauty of the Big Woods of Arkansas. Events include a Birds of Prey program from the Little Rock Zoo, bird walks and a tour of the Louisiana Purchase Monument. For more information, call 870-747-5414 or visit http://clarendon-ar.com.

********************

The program “Deputy Marshals of Fort Smith” will be May 17 at the Fort Smith National Historic Site. This is a free, living history program on the deputy marshals who served the federal court for the Western District of Arkansas during the time of Judge Parker, which was 1875-1896. For more information, phone 479-783-3961 or visit www.nps.gov/fosm.

Also in Fort Smith during May 17-24 will be the Old Fort Days Futurity at Kay Rodgers Park. It is known as the world’s richest futurity. For tickets, phone 479-783-2393 or 800-364-1080. Visit www.kayrodgerspark.com for additional information.

********************

The 3rd Annual Stueart Pennington Running of the Tubs speeds through Hot Springs May 17 on Bathhouse Row The event is an open bathtub race that highlights the city’s colorful history of “We Bathe the World,” on world-famous Bathhouse Row. The winning team will receive a traveling winner’s trophy to keep until the next year’s race. Individual team members will receive a trophy and two additional trophies will be given, one for the Most Original Tub and one for the Most Humorous Tub. For more information, phone 501-321-2277.

********************

The 6th annual Ozark Volkswagen Festival is set for May 18-19 at Taylor’s Sons of the Ozarks in Mountain View. The festival includes a show and swap meet. Bring your Volkswagen and your family and cruise the Ozarks. There will be prizes, trophies and music. For more information, phone 870-269-8068 or visit www.YourPlaceInMountains.com.

********************

Enjoy a day of fun for the whole family at the 11th Annual Augusta Days in Augusta on May 22-25. The three-day event features a fishing derby, a magic show, buddy bass tournament, softball tournament, boat races, live music and a fireworks show. For more information, call 870-347-2343.

********************

Little Rock’s and North Little Rock’s annual Memorial Day Weekend beginning of summer bash – Riverfest – will once again provide a lot of family activities and entertainment. Dates this year are May 23-25. Confirmed performers so far include Huey Lewis and the News, One Republic, Paul Thorn, Jake Owen, Miranda Lambert, Chaka Khan, Arrested Development, Jonny Lang, Robert Earl Keen, ZZ Top, Bad Boy Mowers and Shooter Jennings. Over 100 stage acts will be on hand, along with a large area just for children, visual arts, a wide variety of festival food and Teen Extreme area. Events are scheduled for both sides of the river at Riverfront Park in Little Rock and North Shore River Walk in North Little Rock. As is tradition, Riverfest will end with a huge fireworks display over the Arkansas River. Advance $10 tickets can be purchased at select Harvest Foods and Affiliated Food stores in Little Rock. Tickets at the gate and sold through the Web site are $20. Children age six and under are free, ages 7-10 are $5 a day. The Riverfest Web site — www.riverfestarkansas.com/ — has a complete schedule of events.

********************

The Delta Cultural Center in Helena-West Helena will host the 8th Annual Arkansas Delta Family Gospel Festival on Saturday, May 24. This year’s festival will feature performances by national, regional and local groups, including the Canton Spirituals, Dorothy Norwood, the Myles Family and many others. The event will take place on the Cherry Street Pavilion in historic downtown Helena beginning at 10 a.m. For more information, contact the Delta Cultural Center at (800) 358-0972 or visit their Web site at www.deltaculturalcenter.com.

********************

The Court Square in Salem will be the site for the 59th Annual Fulton County Homecoming Festival on May 23-24. The festival will offer a street dance, a fish fry, horseshoe pitching competitions, a parade, live music and terrapin races. To find out more, call 870-895-4993.

********************

Celebrate Memorial Day at Lake Chicot State Park in Lake Village as they offer special activities on May 24-26. Programs and tours will be held daily throughout the park. Take a closer look at nature, hunt for a geocache or enjoy a guided lake tour during this traditional summer kick-off weekend. On May 30, join the park staff as they celebrate Happy Birthday, Lake Chicot State Park. Celebrate the park’s 51st birthday – and Arkansas State Park’s 75th anniversary – with a slideshow and birthday cake. For more information, visit www.ArkansasStateParks.com or phone Lake Chicot State Park at 870-265-5480.

********************

Enjoy Mustangs on the Mountain on May 25 at The Museum of Automobiles near Morrilton. The event includes a show and shine. There is no entry fee and all year models are included. There will be door prizes. For more information, phone 501-727-5427 or visit www.museumofautos.com. Admission to the event is free.

####

Submitted by the Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism
One Capitol Mall, Little Rock, AR 72201, 501-682-7606
E-mail: info [at] arkansas [dot] com