Celebrate Bootlegger Daze in historic Calico Rock
The town of Calico Rock officially kicks off its tourism season with its annual Bootlegger Daze, set this year for Saturday, March 11. The event commemorates The Bootleggers, the 1974 motion picture filmed in Calico Rock starring Jaclyn Smith in her first starring role. It also starred Slim Pickens.
The festival features live music, crafts vendors, food vendors, kids’ area, and more from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. It recently received a hand pump that was used to supply White River divers with oxygen when they dove for mussels and pearls in the river. This item has been added to the river exhibit.
While you’re in town for the festival, you can also enjoy exploring Calico Rock. Historic Main Street’s brick and stone buildings from the 1920s flank the street for a few blocks. They are home to antique stores, a museum and various stores. Additional shopping is available in more modern parts of town.
Calico Rock Museum & Visitor Center houses collections and displays exhibits beginning with the American Indian culture to about 1967 that are historically and culturally significant to the town and area. The museum not only preserves the past, it also features handmade works of area artists. About 28 artists sale their items – pottery, furniture, leather, organic home products, woodworking, jewelry, and more – in the museum.
This year, the museum will dedicate the framework for the jail that was featured in the The Bootleggers film. Donated by the Long family, this piece of Calico Rock history will be located next to the railroad tracks where it sat during the movie.
Many people answered the museum’s call for items that were bought or sold in businesses along Main Street from the 1940s to 1960s. The museum will have a new window display of items for Bootlegger Daze weekend.
Just steps away from this historic but thriving town center, is another lifetime of the town preserved. Calico Rock’s Ghost Town include a pool hall/tavern, a barber shop, a theater, a café, a lumberyard, the telephone exchange, a cotton gin, a funeral parlor, and an electric company. The tour contains more than 20 different buildings and other structures, dilapidated yet holding a significant presence in the oldest part of town. All but two can be seen from the street and markers tell the history of each. You can drive it, but it’s best seen on foot.
Lodging runs the gamut from motels on Main Street to motels and cabins on or overlooking the river. Hiking and biking trails are located in parks in the middle of town and fishing is hot here.