Jill M. Rohrbach
You can join in the festival fun this week, April 15-18, on the courthouse square. This annual spring celebration features handmade crafts, frontier life demonstrations, a parade, dancing, and a window decorating contest.
The parade starts at 10 a.m. Saturday traveling Main Street, and is considered a highlight with floats, dignitaries, school marching bands, antique cars, horses, and more. The Stone County Saddle Club will sponsor rodeos at 2 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday at the fairgrounds.
This year also marks the 3rd annual Artisans Market on the Square, which features more than 60 booths of handcrafted goods from Stone County and regional artists. Some of the organizations involved include the Mountain View Art Guild, Ozark Folk Fiber Guild, Off the Beaten Path tour, and Ozark Folk Center craft interpreters. Vendor booths will be set up along side streets adjoining the historic square.
While shopping, around the square you’ll hear jam sessions of folk, mountain, and bluegrass music. Impromptu groups spring up and play throughout the day and into the evening. Bring a lawn chair and sit and listen. You can move from group to group. Scheduled music programs will be presented on the outdoor stage at the courthouse on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, with a gospel show on Sunday. In addition to those concerts, a variety of professional music shows will be open in local theaters.
Other activities available in the area include tours of Blanchard Springs Caverns, mountain biking, camping and hiking in the Ozark National Forest, and fishing on White River.
To contact the Chamber of Commerce about the festival or other local events, call 1-888-679-2859 or visit ArkansasFolkFestival.com. Phone 870-269-5004 or visit Yourplaceinthemountains.com for details.
The date also marks the opening of Ozark Folk Center State Park for the season. Free admission to the craft grounds is given Friday through Sunday during its Open House on April 16-18. I suggest you park here, and take a free shuttle back and forth to the downtown, which has limited parking, on Friday and Saturday. The shuttle runs from 9:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
For the Open House, park in the lower parking lot and start your tour with an old-time soda, iced cappuccino, fried peanuts, iced pickles or other treat at the General Store. You can browse the Homespun Gift Shop, which serves as the entrance to the Craft Village. In the village, you can watch crafters demonstration their trade. Ozark Folk Center offers music too.
The village is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call 870-269-3851 for more information or visit OzarkFolkCenter.com.