25th Annual North Arkansas Ancestor Fair

Continuing as the oldest and most popular family-history event in north Arkansas, the North Arkansas Ancestor Fair is an annual event for county historical societies and family historians sharing and collecting information about northern Arkansas families.

This is the North Arkansas ancestor research event. Hundreds of people from across the country attend each year. Celebrating its 25th year, the fair dates for 2014 are Friday, June 6 at the Ozark Heritage Center in Leslie through Saturday, June 7 at the Civic Center in Marshall. There is a charge for Friday’s sessions, but Saturday’s genealogy swap meet is free.

Session one of Friday includes speakers Mark Christ from the Arkansas Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission; Timothy G. Nutt, head of Special Collections at the University of Arkansas Libraries; and Brian Robertson of the Butler Center Central Arkansas Library Systems. Session two speakers are Dr. Colin Woodward with the Center for Arkansas History and Culture, and James Johnston of the Searcy County Historical society. All speakers will discuss Civil War research and topics. A mixer dinner is scheduled for Friday night.

Ancestor Fair Founder James Johnston has long been a dabbler in local history and genealogy. In the late 80s he was struck by three things. He was impressed with the number of people he came in contact with who were doing family research and would go to great lengths to identify an obscure family relationship. He also marveled that genealogists were so happy to share information with anyone who was interested. It occurred to him that many of my correspondents had pieces of the same puzzle, and that if they could share that information, all would be better off. And so the Ancestor Fair was born.

While the fair was conceived as an event where family researchers with Searcy County roots would come together to share information, it evolved after the second year to include adjoining counties since many families had family lines in those areas. Today, it encompasses several north central Arkansas counties.


People that attend the fair also spend time researching their families in the local county records, at the local museum, and at the local library, and visiting family plots in the cemeteries and old home places or schools that have family connections. Researchers also look for relatives who still live in the area and for oral history about their family.

Johnston has always maintained that information should be free, and only objects could cost money. Nominal fees are now charged for some activities to defray costs. Guest speakers are part of the event as well.

For more information, call 870-448-3308 or visit www.ancestorfair.us.