Fort Smith’s Frontier Fest


Jill M. Rohrbach
Fort Smith is a city of convergence. Its first fort was built at Belle Point, where the Arkansas and Poteau rivers unite. Federal marshals rode out of the United States and into Indian Territory at this juncture. Outlaws collided with Hanging Judge Parker. During the Civil War, the North met the South here with devastating results. Soldiers’ lives intersected with settlers during frontier days.

This military settlement has grown into a city that is a meetinghouse for the past, present and future with its well-preserved frontier spirit, its establishment of contemporary arts and entertainment venues, and its thriving community that is building for the future. Fort Smith bills itself as the place “where the new south meets the old west.”

So what could be a better place for a Frontier Festival? Fort Smith’s annual Frontier Fest will be this weekend, Oct. 24-25. It’s held along the banks of the Arkansas River where much of Fort Smith’s frontier history took place.

It’s sure to be a good time – just check out this list of activities:

  • Championship Liars Contest
  • Live music by The Crumbs, cowboy singers & other favorites
  • Bank robbery re-enactment with antique cars
  • Tours of the Fort Smith National Historic Site
  • Tales from the Crypt storytelling•
  • Children’s crafts and games
  • Boy Scout camping and Dutch Oven food tastings
  • Frontier cooking demonstrations with  AETN’s Phyllis Speer (now there’s a treat)
  • Frontier Fashion Show
  • Simulated gunfights
  • “Fashions & Rations” Living Timeline of U.S. Military Life
  • Photo-friendly re-enactors in costume
  • Horseshoe tournament
  • Vendors selling their handmade frontier wares, including unique Christmas gifts

The weather is supposed to be nice for the weekend, so make plans to find your Frontier spirit. For more information you can visit phone 479-783-8888.


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