Gillett, a small city in south Arkansas County, is the home of the state and nationally renowned Gillett Coon Supper. This wild game dinner, which began in 1947 and is held each January, is a benefit providing scholarships to Gillett area graduating high school seniors. It also is a “must attend” event for anyone seeking political office throughout the state.
The town was platted in 1888 and began as Leslie Center, settled largely by German immigrants. Locals applied for a post office under the name of Leslie but were denied, leading them to choose the name of Gillett in honor of Francis M. Gillett, the financier who oversaw the completion of the railroad into the town in 1895.
Gillett was incorporated in 1906 and reached its largest population in the early twentieth century when sawmills, stave mills, and the timber industry were at their peak in the area. Levee projects and the floodgate installation on Bayou Meto helped the community survive the Depression, along with other Works Progress Administration (WPA) programs.
Gillett remains predominantly agricultural, with rice, soybeans, corn, and wheat growing in the area. Near Gillett are the Arkansas Post National Memorial, Arkansas Post Museum State Park, and the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers parks and Arkansas River projects. The town is located along the Arkansas segment of the Great River Road National Scenic Byway.