2021 Arkansas Anniversaries

From popular festivals to historic commemorations, Arkansas is ready to celebrate in 2021. Learn more about the festivals, performances and other events that mark a milestone anniversary this year.
150th anniversary of Mountain Valley Spring Water

Region: Southwest

Mountain Valley Spring Water in Hot Springs is also celebrating a 150th anniversary this year. The water has been bottled from the same natural spring source since 1871 and was the first bottled water available coast to coast. It has been served on Capitol Hill since 1920. You can learn more  interesting history and taste samples of this famous water at the company’s visitor center and museum at 150 Central Avenue in downtown Hot Springs.

CONTACT: www.mountainvalleyspring.com

University of Arkansas sesquicentennial

Region: Northwest

The University of Arkansas in Fayetteville will celebrate its 150th anniversary in 2021. The year-long commemoration will take place throughout 2021, including the university's "Founders' Day" anniversary in March and will continue through early 2022 with a celebration of the 150th anniversary of the university's first day of classes on Jan. 22, 2022.

This public land-grant research university is the flagship campus of the University of Arkansas System and the largest university in Arkansas. Founded as Arkansas Industrial University in 1871, classes were first held on Jan. 22, 1872. Its present name was adopted in 1899. Founded on the site of a hilltop farm that overlooked the Ozark Mountains, it’s nicknamed "The Hill.”

The campus consists of 378 buildings spread across 512 acres of land. Some well known architecture on campus includes Old Main, the first permanent academic building erected. The UA is known for its traditions, including "Calling the Hogs” at Arkansas Razorback sporting events, and the Senior Walk, more than four miles of campus sidewalk etched with the names of all UA graduates since 1876 (the year of the first graduating class).

The UA provides an internationally competitive education for undergraduate and graduate students in more than 200 academic programs. The university contributes new knowledge, economic development, basic and applied research, and creative activity while also providing service to academic and professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the UA among fewer than 2.7 percent of universities in America that have the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the UA among its top American public research universities. The UA comprises 10 colleges and schools and maintains a low student-to-faculty ratio that promotes personal attention and close mentoring.

For more information: www.uark.edu.

140 years of The Crown Hotel

Region: Northwest

Built in 1881, The Crown Hotel in Siloam Springs is one of the city’s oldest commercial buildings, and may have been its first brick hotel. Originally called the Lakeside Hotel, this two-story building in an L shape has a hip roof topped by a low cupola and a spindled two-story porch wrapping around two sides of the building.

It holds a lot of history of the town and sheds light on evolving technology. For example, its original wood columns were reinforced with concrete at the bottoms when automobiles came along to prevent damage to the structure if a car were to run into it.

See more about the town and the hotel here: http://www.siloamspringsmuseum.com/found-in-the-archives/2018/5/2/downtown-siloams-oldest-building.

Rogers celebrates 140 years

Region: Northwest

Rogers, Arkansas was established in 1881, the year the Frisco railroad line arrived in the area. It’s named after railroad man C.W. Rogers. It evolved from a hard working 19th century rail town to one of the best places to live in the U.S., as ranked by Money Magazine.

Located in Northwest Arkansas, one of the fastest growing metropolitan areas in the country, Rogers is known as the location of the first Walmart store. Walmart’s headquarters is located in neighboring Bentonville. Rogers is home to Daisy Outdoor Products, known for its air rifles and the Daisy Airgun Museum. Its historic downtown has brick-lined streets and vibrant storefronts, while newer sections of the city are exploding with business, retail and entertainment locales.

For more information: https://visitrogersarkansas.com.

Monte Ne was started 120 years ago

Region: Northwest

The first hotel opened in Monte Ne, located just east of Rogers, in 1901. Monte Ne operated as a health resort and an ambitious planned community until the mid-1930s. It was the brain idea of William Hope Harvey, a financial theorist and one-time U.S. Presidential nominee. Known as “Coin” Harvey, he introduced the first indoor swimming pool in Arkansas and held the only presidential convention in the state. While he made money silver mining in Colorado and through his writings about free silver, his resort town was a bust. Today, all that remains are the foundations and one severely vandalized structure. The latter is about all that can be seen as the rest was submerged when Beaver Lake was created in 1964 and the site serves mainly as a boat ramp owned and managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

For more information: https://www.rogersar.gov/270/Monte-Ne-Today.

Centennial of Hot Springs National Park

Region: Southwest

2021 marks a Centennial year for the designation of Hot Springs National Park as a national park. This beautiful park is surrounded by the Ouachita Mountains in the heart of downtown Hot Springs. It was first deemed Hot Springs Reservation in 1832 to protect hot springs flowing from Hot Springs Mountain, thus becoming the oldest park in the National Park System. It became Hot Springs National Park in 1921. 

CONTACT: www.nps.gov/hosp/index.htm

100 years of Riceland Foods

Region: Lower Delta

Riceland Foods, headquartered in Stuttgart, is the world’s largest rice miller and rice marketer. It also operates one of the world’s largest rice mills, located in Jonesboro. Founded in 1921 as a farmers’ cooperative to market crops, Riceland is one of the top companies in Arkansas. It is the largest supplier of rice for the food industry in the United States, a major rice exporter to foreign countries, one of the nation’s largest grain storage companies and is also one of the Mid-South’s largest soybean processors. www.riceland.com

80th anniversary of Historic Arkansas Museum

Region: Central

The Historic Arkansas Museum, located in Little Rock’s downtown, is celebrating 80 years this year. The museum, which first opened its doors to the public in 1941, depicts Arkansas's early history. The site includes five pre-Civil War houses that have been restored to antebellum appearances including the oldest building still standing in Little Rock, the Hinderliter Grog Shop. The center’s museum features several permanent exhibits including “Arkansas Made: History of the Bowie Knife,” a collection of more than 100 historical and modern knives, including the Bowie No. 1. Visit the museum’s website for more details on the anniversary as plans develop.

CONTACT: 200 East Third Street, Little Rock, AR 72201, www.HistoricArkansas.org.

80-year-old swinging bridge

Region: Northwest

The 80-year-old Haggard Ford Swinging Bridge is located eight miles north of Harrison on Cottonwood Road. This one-lane suspension bridge is approximately 160 feet in length, spanning Bear Creek. Constructed by the Works Progress Administration with local labor from 1938 to 1941, the bridge consists of poured concrete towers with concrete anchorages, steel cables and hangers, and a wooden deck.

The bridge is in original condition with the exception of the wood decking which was replaced in 1977 and is on the list of “Historic Bridges of Arkansas” for its association with World War II-era bridge building with the Works Progress Administration, and as one of the few remaining historic suspension bridges in Arkansas.

It’s named for Mrs.Nancy Haggard, a widow with three children who lived near the creek crossing at the turn of the century. On May 7,1961 a big flood rendered the Haggard Ford Swinging Bridge incapable sf supporting vehicular traffic. By 1977, the deteriorated bridge was believed to be a hazard to those who enjoyed the Bear Creek swimming hole underneath it. Ordered to be dismantled, the bridge was saved by residents circulating a petition to save and restore it for foot traffic only. A committee garnered the needed funds. The bridge was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1995.

For more information: http://www.arkansaspreservation.com/national-register-listings/haggard-ford-swinging-bridge.

Fort Smith National Historic Site celebrates 60 years

Region: Northwest

Fort Smith National Historic Site, located along the Arkansas River in Fort Smith, preserves the remains of two frontier forts, the Federal Court for the Western District of Arkansas, and Federal Judge Isaac C. Parker’s courtroom. Additionally, it contains re-created 1886 gallows, “Hell on the Border” jail, exhibits on the army at Fort Smith from 1817 to 1871, the Trail of Tears and the federal court including deputy marshals and outlaws. This site was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1961.

The town of Fort Smith, Arkansas developed around the fort. Fort Smith was named #1 among True West magazine’s Top Ten True Western Towns for 2013 and has remained in the Top Ten each year since.

Since the 1940s, Wild West stories of Fort Smith, Arkansas have been showcased in books and movies such as True Grit, Rooster Cogburn and Hang’em High. But, the real stories are even better than Hollywood.

For more information: https://www.nps.gov/fosm/index.htm.

60 years of Hampson Archeological State Park

Region: Upper Delta

Hampson Archeological State Park in Wilson was dedicated as an Arkansas State Park in 1961. The museum exhibits the nationally renowned collection of Dr. James K. Hampson from the Nodena site, a 15-acre village. The state-of-the-art facility interprets the lifestyles of the farming-based civilization that lived there from A.D. 1400 to 1650. Artifacts and exhibits share the story of this early aboriginal tribe, who also developed their art, religion and political structure while creating a thriving trading network. www.arkansasstateparks.com/parks/hampson-archeological-museum-state-park

Region: Lower Delta

60 years of Louisiana Purchase State Park

Act 174 of 1961 established Louisiana Purchase State Park near Brinkley. This small state park preserves a rare headwater swamp and a granite marker denoting the initial point, designated a National Historic Landmark, from which land surveys of U.S. territory acquired from France via the 1803 Louisiana Purchase were measured. Designated a National Recreation Trail, the park’s 950-foot boardwalk features panels relating the story of the purchase, the survey and the swamp. The park is located at the end of Ark. 362 two miles east from U.S. 49 about 19 miles southeast of Brinkley and about 30 miles northwest of Helena. www.arkansasstateparks.com/parks/louisiana-purchase-state-park

Wapanocca National Wildlife Refuge was established in January 1961 as a sanctuary for migratory waterfowl. The refuge is literally an island of forest in a sea of agriculture. Lying only four miles west of the Mississippi River and 15 miles northwest of Memphis, the refuge is an important stopover for waterfowl traveling the Mississippi Flyway and for neotropical songbirds as they migrate to and from Central and South America. https://fws.gov/refuge/Wapanocca/

Christ of the Ozarks statue turns 55

Region: Northwest

The seven-story Christ of the Ozarks statue located at The Great Passion Play in Eureka Springs continues to be one of the most visited attractions in the Ozarks with more than 250,000 people viewing it each year. Completed in 1966, every inch of the remarkable sculpture was built by hand. It is made of 24 layers of white mortar on a steel frame and weighs more than two million pounds. The hands from wrist to fingertip measure approximately seven feet. The statue’s arm spread from fingertip to fingertip spans 65 feet and its overall height is 67 feet. 

For more information: https://www.greatpassionplay.org/christ-of-the-ozarks.html.

50-year anniversary of the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System (MKARNS)

Region: Central

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the McClellan‐Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System, MKARNS. The system strategically connects the heartland of the U.S. with the rest of the world. The 445-mile waterway is a crucial part of the nation’s transportation system providing navigation, as well as hydropower, recreation, water supply and fish and wildlife habitats. It was the largest civil works project ever undertaken by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at the time of its opening.

CONTACT: [email protected]

30th anniversary of Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival

Region: Southwest

The Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival has an important place in both Arkansas and cinematic culture. The festival is the longest running documentary film festival in the U.S. and serves as an Academy Award qualifier in the Documentary Short Subject category. It showcases a variety of feature length and short documentaries from around the world and is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year.

CONTACT: www.hsdfi.org

Crystal Bridges celebrates 10 years

Region: Northwest

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art,  a museum of American art in Bentonville, was founded by Alice Walton and designed by Moshe Safdie. It opened Nov. 11, 2011.

The museum’s permanent collection spans five centuries of American art along with temporary exhibitions in a building nestled on 120 acres of Ozark landscape. Amenities include a restaurant, museum store, library, 3.5 miles of trails and a Frank Lloyd Wright house preserved and relocated to the grounds. It offers free public admission.

For more information: https://crystalbridges.org.