Lum & Abner Time!

Zoie Clift

The 34th annual Lum & Abner Festival is
this weekend in Mena! There is a packed lineup that is in full swing and goes
through tomorrow. Today’s highlights include the United Freestyle Stunt Team (
performing at 4- they will be doing back-flips, tail-whips, 360’s, and more
stunts) the Lumberjack show (today and tomorrow) and live music both days.
local Ouachita Little Theatre is doing live performances featuring the comedy
of the Lum & Abner radio show at 7:30 both tonight and Saturday nights of
the festival. The performances will be at the Ouachita Little Theatre 2 blocks
from Janssen Park ( where the festival is being held) and tickets are $5 per
person.  Many vendors will be on
site including local arts and crafts 
and interesting competitions like the Great Lum & Abner Meltdown: a timed
competition testing participants ability to melt a 10 pound block of ice with
their body heat.  It’s been pretty
hot out lately so am sure this competition will be packed.  There are also outhouse races, a car,
truck and motorcycle show and more.  

 As to the namesakes of the festival, Chet Lauck and
Norris Goff were the creators of Lum & Abner. 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. By 1933 they had
introduced the “Jot “Em Down Store” to their audiences and this
would become the focal point of most of the programs. By 1940, Chet and Norris
were on their way to Hollywood to make the first of seven motion pictures
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