Sports themed Smithsonian exhibit making its way through Arkansas


The Arkansas Humanities Council has chosen six host sites throughout Arkansas for a Smithsonian Institution project that highlights the importance of sports in America and their positive impact on hometown communities. The project is called ‘Hometown Teams, How Sports Shape America’, and participating towns are given the task of developing exhibits that showcase the stories of local athletes and sports teams.

The Dallas County Sports Museum at the Bill Mays Annex in Fordyce is the first spot to host the traveling exhibit, which will be displayed there until June 3. The museum is located across the street from the Dallas County Museum at 200 North Main Street. As part of the exhibit, local students from the area have chosen a Fordyce athlete to highlight and do a special project on as their means of sharing local sports history with the community.

The town is a natural fit for the project as Fordyce and Dallas County have the largest number of inductees in the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame of any city or county in the state. Many interesting sports tidbits have ties to the area. For instance, the first high school football team in the state was organized in the city in 1904. Featured there are exhibits highlighting many local athletes of national fame including Paul “Bear” Bryant. Raised in Fordyce, Bryant (1913-1983) is a legend in the realm of football many consider him one of the greatest coaches in the history of the sport.

After Fordyce, the exhibit will be making its way to other museums in the state including the Delta Gateway Museum in Blytheville from June 10-July 18, the Cross County Historical Society in Wynne from July 22-September 2, the Delta Cultural Center in Helena-West-Helena from September 9-October 21, Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia from October 28-December 9 and the Old Independence Regional Museum in Batesville from December 16-January 27.