Photographs by Special to the Democrat-Gazette/MARCIA SCHNEDLER
A variety of handiwork, including soap bunnies, will be for sale April 14-15 at the Arkansas Folk Festival in Mountain View.
Thursday, March 16, 2017
After a winter that barely showed up in Arkansas, spring officially returns Monday. The vernal season is prime time for festivals in the Natural State, including these annual favorites with entry generally free of charge:
• Art With an Attitude Kite Festival, Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge, March 25. Visitors can take kites or make one at this sanctuary 7 miles south of Eureka Springs. Kite-flying contests and other family fun are free, but admission will be charged to view the refuge's tigers and other big cats.
• Edamame Festival, Mulberry, April 1. In 2012, this Crawford County town welcomed the first U.S. facility for processing edamame, the soybean variety now served as a snack food. Along with a booth offering edamame samples and recipes, visitors can enjoy a car show and carnival rides.
• Arkansas Scottish Festival, Batesville, April 7-9. There will be at least a wee bit of jollity in this venerable Lyons College fest. One event, offering a flash of flesh, is the Bonniest (no, not Boniest) Knees contest. Kilts will be the weekend's garb of choice, bagpipers will pipe up a storm, and Highland flings will be danced.
• Arkansas Folk Festival, Mountain View, April 14-15. Thanks in large part to Ozark Folk Center State Park, Mountain View is a trove of hill-country music and crafts. Staged each spring for more than half a century, the folk festival will include a parade on April 15 and other rustic revelry around the town's Courthouse Square.
• Fordyce on the Cotton Belt, April 17-22. The glory days of railroading will be celebrated with displays of model trains in Fordyce. A lot of other things will be going on, including shows of motorcycles and classic cars, a Civil War re-enactment, a steak cook-off and (something completely different) a washer-tossing contest.
• Cabot Strawberry Festival, April 28-29. Downtown Cabot will be the setting for this flavorful fest celebrating the berry business in surrounding Lonoke County. The fun, organized by the Junior Auxiliary of Cabot, will aim for family patronage with carnival rides and a kid zone.
• World Famous Armadillo Festival, Hamburg, May 6. Sorry, but no parimutuel betting will be available when the banded critters race in this Ashley County community. Adventuresome stomachs will be welcome at the armadillo meat-eating contest. But no jokes, please, about roadkill.
• Toad Suck Daze, Conway, May 5-7. As many as 100,000 visitors have been tallied at this whimsically named event on the streets of downtown Conway. The World Championship Toad Races will headline a gathering that organizers say has raised more than $1.5 million in scholarships for local students over the years.
• Pioneer Village Spring Fest, Searcy, May 6-7. On the outskirts of Searcy, this complex of vintage buildings, farm equipment and other bygone items will come alive the first weekend in May. On the agenda will be chuck wagon cooking, farm animals and square dancing.
• Magnolia Blossom Festival and World Championship Steak Cook-off, May 19-20. It may resemble a Food Channel set as grill gurus compete for $10,000 in prizes at Magnolia's sizzling cook-off. There will also be a steak-eating contest, a highly touted art show and plenty of blooming magnolias.
Two popular annual events are absent from this spring's schedule. Stuttgart's German Heritage Festival, previously held in April, has been moved to the fall. That will coordinate its dates with Oktoberkfest events, which have become popular in America as well as Germany.
As for the Alma Spinach Festival, which normally takes place in April, it has been canceled for 2017. "With all of the construction that will be happening on Main Street this spring, we will not be able to put on a high-quality or safe festival," reports the local website. "We plan to come back in 2018 to debut our new Main Street."
For more information on these and other spring festivals, visit arkansas.com.
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