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60th Annual Prairie Grove Clothesline Fair

Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park

Everything needed for a fun Labor Day weekend celebration can be found on the grounds of a Civil War battlefield during the 60th annual Prairie Grove Clothesline Fair in northwest Arkansas. The event takes place Sept. 3-5 at Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park. A large variety of handmade items will be for sale in this traditional craft show containing over 200 booths. Visitors can also examine antique farming equipment, walk through historic buildings, see original Civil War artifacts, and observe living history programs. Other activities include a parade, a 5K, gospel music, and square dancing demonstrations.

The Prairie Grove Clothesline Fair was started in 1951 as a way to revive the carnival-like atmosphere of Civil War reunions. Despite the horrors of the war, the land where the Battle of Prairie Grove took place has been revered through use as a reunion site since the 1870s. The reunions were in a fair setting with races, contests, and treats such as watermelon. As the era of the Civil War became history and the men who fought in it began to die, so ended the regular reunions. After World War II, leaders of Prairie Grove decided it was time to reintroduce reunions on the Civil War grounds. As a project, the Prairie Grove Lion’s Club cleaned up the area. Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park is now a beautiful and serene setting, a stark contrast to the events that took place there.

The Battle of Prairie Grove was the last time two armies of almost equal strength faced each other for supremacy in northwest Arkansas. When the Confederate Army withdrew from the bloody battlefield at Prairie Grove on the night of December 7, it was clear Missouri and northwest Arkansas would remain in Federal hands.

While the 500-acre park exists to help visitors understand the war, Smith says it does not focus only on battle maneuverings. It distinguishes itself from other Civil War parks because it shows, through use of a pioneer village, how war affected civilian life and Ozark culture. It is located on U.S. 62. For more information, visit arkansasstateparks.com or call 479-846-2990.