35th annual Lum & Abner Festival in Mena!



Tomorrow is the start of the 35th annual Lum & Abner
Festival in Janssen Park in Mena. The festival ( June 1-2) will have live
re-enactments of the Lum & Abner radio shows, outhouse races, free concerts
all day, a car, truck and motorcycle show, a lumberjack show, freestyle bike
stunt team and more. The local Ouachita Little Theatre ( 2 blocks from the park)
hosts the live performances at 7:30 pm both Friday and Saturday nights of the festival. Tickets for these performances are $2
per person.


If you head there, you’ll want to check out the Lum and
Abner Museum and Jot ‘Em Down Storelocated in Pine Ridge on the side of Hwy 88. The museum opened in the
1970’s and is now on the National Register of Historic Places.


Many are probably familiar with the Lum and Abner name.
Chester “Chet” Lauck and Norris “Tuffy” Geoff of Mena created Lum and Abner in
1931. Their radio broadcasts of the ‘30s and ‘40s were among the most popular
on the air and they were the first network program broadcast from Radio City in
New York in 1933. Their career also spanned movies and T.V.


The show was based on small town life and was set in the Jot
‘Em Down Store (which reflected country stores across the nation) in a
fictional town called Pine Ridge. In 1936, the citizens of Waters (the town the
show was based on) officially changed the town’s name to Pine Ridge in honor of
the duo.


According to copy from The National Lum & Abner Society
( yep, there is one!) ‘Chet was born in 1902 in Aleene, Arkansas and Norris was
born in Cove, Arkansas in 1906. Both had moved to Mena with their families by
1911. They lived only a few blocks apart and grew up together. They were
both talented comedians and by
1931 had become local “Amos and Andy” imitators. They were scheduled
to perform on a local charity program in Hot Springs in 1931. At the last
minute they decided to appear as two old-time Arkansas philosophers with the
names “Lum Eddards” and “Abner Peabody”. Thus was formed a
team that was to delight radio audiences for the next 25 years. Just three
months later “Lum & Abner” made its’ national radio debut on the
NBC radio network from Chicago. This was to continue, with different networks,
for nearly 25 years. They also performed their routines on vaudeville stages throughout
the country.’


In addition to the Lum and Abner history the museum has
examples of early general store merchandise and fixtures and farm and household
items from our early days. The U.S. Post Office there still sells stamps.


Lon and Kathy Stucker currently run the museum and store. If
you are in the neighborhood and get a chance, stop by and say hi. The museum is
open March 1-Nov. 1 Tues-Sat from 9-5 and from 12-5 on Sunday. It is open by
appointment Nov-Feb. For more information, call 870-326-4442.


Join the Conversation