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September 12, 2003

Barbecue and Music Part of Oct. 4 Osage Pumpkin Festival

By Jill M. Rohrbach, travel writer
Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism

OSAGE -- Celebrating 25 years, the annual Osage Valley Pumpkin Festival, which features a blend of food, music, crafts and, of course, pumpkins, will take place Oct. 4 in Osage, located just off U.S. 412 in southern Carroll County. Hours for the one-day festival are 9 a.m. to approximately 5 p.m. Admission and parking is free.

The event, known for its small-town and friendly atmosphere, serves as a fundraiser for the local volunteer fire department. Beginning early in the morning, Rick's Ribs of Alpena will begin preparing barbecue, which will be for sale by the plate, Newt Lale, event coordinator, said. Lunch will be served starting at 11 a.m.

"And the local churches and community organizations always come with wonderful baked goods," Lale added.

Live music will be performed from 9 a.m. to about dark. A few of the musicians already booked for the festival include the Coffee Brothers of Harrison; Harmony from Mountain View; Sam Barr and Friends from Berryville; Banjo Billy Mathews from Osage; and Ray Creasy, a multi-talented musician from Nashville who currently resides in Denard.

Vendors are expected to set up about 50 booths at the festival, displaying and selling both traditional and contemporary crafts. Booths are usually still available the morning of the event at a cost of $20, and no commission is charged.

Set in the center of the small festival is the 102-year-old Stamps Historical Store, a two-and-a-half-story stone structure used for 88 years as the community mercantile store. The building, which is listed on the National Register of Historical Places, is now home to Osage Clayworks, which is owned by Lale and features quality handmade pottery as well as antiques and memorabilia.

Throughout the day during the Pumpkin Festival, Lale will demonstrate in his studio the ways in which he creates functional pieces, such as dinnerware, pitchers and coffee cups.

The Pumpkin Festival was the creation of Frank Stamps, former proprietor of the Stamps Store, who died in 1988. Stamps wanted to share with others the talent of local craftspeople and musicians. When Lale purchased the Stamps Store, he said he also inherited the role of organizing the Pumpkin Festival, since the store is still the hub of the event and town.

"This is really a low-key, neat event," Lale explained. "Real good music. Real good food. Osage is a quaint community." He said many attend the festival to see friends they haven't seen in years and to see if the store still exists.

"We have ledgers back to 1902," he said. When people come in discussing ancestors who lived in the area, Lale said with a laugh, "we pull it out and tell what Uncle Bob bought in 1904 and check whether he paid his bill or not."

Festival goers are encouraged to bring lawn chairs. The pumpkin festival is always the first Saturday in October. Osage is located just south of U.S. 412 on Ark. 103, 20 miles west of Harrison or 20 miles east of Huntsville. For more information, contact Newt Lale by phone at (870) 553-2513 or by e-mail at A picture of the Stamps Store can be viewed on Lale's web site,


Submitted by the Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism
One Capitol Mall, Little Rock, AR 72201, (501) 682-7606

May be used without permission. Credit line is appreciated:
"Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism"



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