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Oil Town Festival in Smackover

 

The
annual Oil Town Festival is set for June 14-16 in Smackover. The festival
(which is celebrating it’s 41
st  year) takes place at City Park and is a celebration of the
city’s oil boom heritage. On the lineup is a 5K Oil Run, free concerts every
night, a rib cook off, a turtle race, arm wrestling, a dog show, a drill bit
throwing contest, a rod wrenching contest, the famous yellow duck race down No
Name Creek ( with a first place price of $1,000!) and more. On another note,
Smackover is also home to the only center of the road traffic light in the
state. So be on the lookout for that if you go.

 

The
history of the area is quite interesting. The town was a small agricultural and
sawmill community until oil was discovered in 1922. After this, the city was
incorporated and almost overnight the population increased by the thousands.
For five months in 1925 Smackover’s oil wells led the nation in production.

 

The
oil boom of the 1920’s was relatively short-lived; however a steady production
began to lead the industry. Early on in the Arkansas boom, there were no
pipelines and crude oil was hauled on trucks to railroad tank cars to be
refined.  Despite improved drilling techniques and conservation efforts,
oil prices were lower than the cost of production during the Depression. But,
in 1937, a second boom – spurred by the discovery of oil at twice the depth of
the existing 2,700-foot-deep wells – lasted for a number of years.

 

Today
the oil industry remains a significant contributor to the economy but it is no
longer center stage such as in the days of the 1920s and ’30s.  If you
head to the festival, be sure to swing by the Arkansas Museum of Natural
Resources, which preserves the state’s oil history. In 1980, Mr. and Mrs. Jack
Turner of El Dorado donated 19 acres at Smackover as a site for the museum,
which is located at 3853 Smackover Hwy. 

 

Outside,
the center’s Oilfield Park features seven operating examples of the
oil-producing methods employed from the 1920’s through today. The park contains
a 112-foot wooden derrick similar to the one at the original Busey  #1.
Admission to the museum is free and is open from 8-5 p.m. Monday through
Saturday, and from 1-5 p.m. on Sunday.

 

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