Happy birthday to the River Market!

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Rivermarket_Cache_Little_Rock_CHC1067

Rivermarket_Cache_Little_Rock_CHC1067

If you’ve ever browsed the Little Rock Farmers’ Market while visions of tomato sandwiches danced in your head, discreetly sipped a beer on a blanket during Movies in the Park or gotten lost in history at the Arkansas Studies Institute, you are fully aware of the value of Little Rock’s River Market District. (And that goes double—maybe quadruple—if you are of an age to remember downtown before the River Market District existed.) This year, an idea that began with a dream and wound up spurring an urban revitalization that is still steaming along today turns 20 years old.

Naturally, the River Market is celebrating—all day long on Saturday, July 9. Here’s a rundown of the festivities.

Things kick off at 7 a.m. with the opening of the Farmers’ Market. The Garden Gourmet Chef Series (featuring William Ginocchio), Master Gardeners of Little Rock, Central Arkansas Library System and Rock City Rescue will all arrive at 9 a.m., along with Dean the Bean, the Market’s mascot, who is also celebrating a birthday—his 5th. While all that’s going on, the Indian Percussion Ensemble of UALR will perform from 9 to 10 a.m. and the Red Cross will open a blood drive that will last until 1 p.m. Those who like a little education with their enjoyment, can take in a film about the history and development of the River Market’s Ottenheimer Hall, which will be shown throughout the day in the hall.

Entertainment will continue throughout the day, with a bunch of kids’ activities getting underway at noon. Mosey over to Riverfront Park for train rides, bounce houses, slides and a climbing wall—all open until 5 p.m.

And that’s when the party really gets started. Live music at the First Security Amphitheater will begin at 5 p.m. with SynRG, followed by Rodney Block and the Big Dam Horns. (Pro tip: Bring your dancing shoes for these acts!) While the music is playing, food trucks will provide eats and drinks, with beer available at the amphitheater. For a souvenir more tangible than a happy memory of a day well-spent, grab a limited-edition 20th-anniversary T-shirt ($9.99) before everything winds down at 9:15 p.m. This all-day event is free. For more information, visit www.rivermarket.info.