Tons to Do This Weekend in NWA

Jill M. Rohrbach

Most of us are a bit stir crazy from the depressing rains. But it looks like the weather is going to be beautiful in northwest Arkansas this weekend, which is a good thing because there are a ton of things to do. Here are some of the planned events, starting tonight and running through the weekend (or even all month):

Lanterns light up Eureka Springs during the town’s Grand Illumination May 1-31. This unique Victorian town nestled high in the Ozark Mountains will be aglow with thousands of Japanese and Chinese paper lanterns adorning the facades of historic downtown buildings and the porches of many of the grand Victorian homes throughout the village. Visit

or call 479-244-5074 for details.


The Grand Illumination is part of the town’s May Festival of the Arts, which features dozens of events including a one-of-a-kind parade of art cars, art exhibits, art activities, theater, and music performances, photography excursions and more. Plan your visit and find out why Eureka Springs has been designated as a Top 25 Arts Destination in the U.S. by American Style Magazine (2007-08).


First Thursday on the Downtown Square is a popular evening of arts and culture in downtown Fayetteville. The May event will be from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on the 5th. Participating galleries and art-related locales offer free access to visual and performing art in a fun and social environment. First Thursday venues feature attractions such as art openings, live music, artists’ receptions, lectures, wine tastings, and hands-on activities. In addition, the square comes alive with performances and interactive exhibits. Visit

or call 479-521-5776 for details.


The 34th annual Joe Martin Stage Race gets underway on May 5 and ends on May 8 in Fayetteville. The race is a nationally contested cycling race comprised of a four-day, four-event professional and a two-day, three-event amateur race. It is ranked among the top 10 races on the National Racing Calendar, which is the pro and elite amateur cycling tour in the United States. Visit call 479-521-7766 for more information.


Downtown Bentonville, Inc. (DBI) will host the Arkansas Committee of the National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) Arkansas Women to Watch 2011 exhibition from May 6th – June 18th. The exhibit will be at 109 NW 2nd St. in downtown Bentonville.  An opening reception, hosted by the Northwest Arkansas Chapter of the Arkansas Committee of the NMWA, will be held from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on May 6th during the Bentonville First Friday event.


The artists in the Arkansas Women to Watch 2011 exhibition include Janet Frankovic, Endia Gomez, Nikki Hemphill, Thu Nguyen, Ruth Pasquine, Deborah Warren, and Emily M. Wood.  The exhibition will also include a selection of work from photographer Deborah Warren (Women to Watch 2007).  Many of the works will be for sale, with 30% of the proceeds going to support arts programming in downtown Bentonville.



Fayetteville’s 3rd annual Spring Craft Extravaganza takes place May 7 on Center Street and around the town square. Artisans of the Fayetteville Farmers Market sell juried fine art and handcrafted items. All items at the market are produced locally. Some artists offer on site demonstrations of their craft. The open-air market runs from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. and admission is free. Visit

or call 479-236-2910 for details. Here is information on other craft fairs in the area this weekend —


The North Arkansas Woodcarvers 32nd annual Woodcarvers Show and Sale features whittlers, woodcarvers, wood turners, vendors, judged competitions, demonstrations, and a carving contest. One of the largest shows in the area, it takes place May 7-8 at the Baxter County Fairgrounds in Mountain Home. Participants are from all levels – novice to professional. Admission is free. Visit

or call 870-431-8070 for more information.


Celebrate National Public Garden Days at Compton Gardens in Bentonville from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on May 7. This is an art and nature appreciation experience for children and families. Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art will present drop-in art activities. Inspired by children’s book author Dawn Denton, children will create toad houses from clay pots to bring home to their own yards or gardens. At a second site, children will receive a mini-nature sketchbook and can capture their own impressions of Compton Gardens on paper. If you’re an early riser, start the day with a sunrise viewing at the Turrell Skyspace, located off the Crystal Bridges Trail, at 5:15 a.m. Compton Gardens is located at 312 N. Main Street.



Africa in the Ozarks takes place May 7 in Eureka Springs. Experience the excitement of African dancers and drummers, drum circle, and African vendors. Call 479-244-5425 or visit for details.



Downtown Bentonville, Inc. (DBI) is working with the Walton Arts Center to merge elements of the monthly First Friday with the annual Artosphere regional arts and nature festival to create a unique event on the downtown square.  Held on May 6, the First Friday Art and Nature event will host rising country stars Eden’s Edge, along with musical performances by local favorite Shannon Wurst and the traditional Cajun music of Snake Eyes and the Bug Band. 

The May First Friday program will also include family activities, rides, games, food and a variety of unique and local vendor booths.  Held every first Friday of the month from March – November, the First Friday programs are held on the downtown Bentonville Square.


The Artosphere partnership extends to the May 7 Farmers Market, which will host a Trout Fishing in America performance from 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Trout Fishing in America is the long-standing musical partnership of Keith Grimwood and Ezra Idlet.  Their infectious mix of folk/pop and family music is enriched by the diverse influences of reggae, Latin, blues, jazz and classical music. TFIA recordings have garnered three National Indie Awards and multiple Parents Choice Gold and American Library Awards, as well as 4 Grammy nominations. The Bentonville Farmers Market is held every Saturday on the downtown square from 7:00 a.m. to 1 p.m., April 23 – Oct. 29.



The Springdale Farmers’ Market will open the 2011 season May 7 at a second location in Shiloh Square in downtown Springdale. The Shiloh Square Market will be open Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and on Mondays from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

The Market will continue its operation on the Memorial Walk at The Jones Center on Tuesday, Thursdays and Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Vendors will be selling fresh, local home-produced vegetables, fruits, herbs, eggs and honey in season. Plus, there’ll be plants, flowers, baked goods, jams, jellies and candies. All products sold are produced or made by Market members.

The event will coincide this Saturday with the inaugural Coffee & Cars automobile show. The first Saturday of every month will feature antique, muscle and show cars showcased along Emma Avenue in downtown Springdale.


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