Old Independence Regional Museum Exhibit “Home Town Teams: How Sports Shape America” on Dec. 16

Grand Opening of Museum’s Smithsonian Exhibit

Old Independence Regional Museum will host a large traveling exhibit titled Home Town Teams: How Sports Shape America. It will be on view for six weeks. Its Grand Opening will be held on Saturday, December 16 in the museum’s Barnes-Simmons Main Gallery.

“We will be celebrating a first in Batesville from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.,” said Twyla Gill Wright, museum curator. “Many of you know about the famous Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. It has designed a traveling exhibit that is showing in selected towns across America. And Old Independence Regional Museum is one of those selected few!”

The highlight of the event will be sportsman Mark Martin’s appearance from 11:00 to 12:30 on that Saturday. He has generously agreed to mingle with folks, sign autographs, and have his photo taken with visitors. As an inductee into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, he is being celebrated this day as Independence County’s sports hero. Martin will speak to the crowd at 12:00 about his early days in Batesville and influences that helped him become the sports winner that he became.

Large exhibit units that focus on six subjects will invite viewers to interact with them. They include More Than a Game, Fields of Glory, Take Me Out to the Ball Game, Playing the Game, Root, Root, Root for the Home Team, and Sports Explosion.

The day will be a festive and fun time for all ages. “Bring the whole family, wear your favorite team shirt or cap, wander through the whole museum, interact with the large Sports exhibit, and eat free food!” invites Amelia Bowman. She is a museum board member and wrote the grant proposal that was instrumental in getting the exhibit.

Free hot dogs, Pepsi, Cracker Jacks and popcorn will be available. Parking signs will guide visitors to possible spaces in the AP&L lot a block from the museum, the lots immediately to the south of the museum, and the Vine Street Baptist Church lot. Visitors may also be able to park in nearby church lots and walk.

Drawings for items will be held: a Batesville Recreation Center membership, a Batesville High School band card, free items from the BHS concession stand, two Razorback game tickets.

Preparations for the construction of the Smithsonian exhibit have been extensive. Much work goes on behind such an installation. All of the exhibit areas in the Main Gallery will be moved and stored away before the 20 crates of traveling exhibit components arrive the week before the grand opening. John 3:16 men will help with this much needed labor.

Construction oversight will be provided by Jama Best and Dorothy Meeks of Little Rock. Best is the representative from the Arkansas Humanities Council, which is the co-sponsor of this Smithsonian exhibit within the state. Local volunteers will also lend their hands in this installation. Local sports banners will also be on view, loaned from Batesville High School, Cave City High School, and Diane Lambert.

Bruce Johnston, 2017 coordinator of the museum’s monthly museum programming that focused on various aspects of local spots, said, “Come on out! Have a good time and show your support for our museum.”

The program will be free and open to the public. Normal museum hours are: Tuesday-Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $3.00 for adults, $2.00 for seniors and $1.00 for children. The museum is located at 380 South 9th street, between Boswell and Vine Streets in Batesville.

Old Independence is a regional museum serving a 12-county area: Baxter, Cleburne, Fulton, Independence, Izard, Jackson, Marion, Poinsett, Sharp, Stone, White, and Woodruff. Parts of these present-day counties comprised the original Independence County in 1820’s Arkansas territory.

Ginger Smith joined OGTC in 2014 as a volunteer, and has lived in this area since 1972 when she moved to be near her parents, the late Doss and Vivian Burgess. Her late father was Independence County Appraiser and any time family, whether kids or grand kids, came to visit for even a short time, he would take them to A.D. Hill’s grocery store, and get them a soda pop and candy bar, see the talking bird there, and end up “checking out the great White River.” All the kids and grands have played on the banks there, picnicked, and played on the old train. Ginger is adamant, since she moved to Batesville, there is just no other place to raise a family. Her love for the area and desire to help promote it in her professional capacity led her to seek volunteering, and Charlie Morris, whom she met when she was a typesetter at the Daily Guard Newspaper, put her in touch with Cathy Drew, Executor Director of OGTC. She has been on board since then and says she has loved everything she has done and is proud to represent North Central Arkansas.
The last 20 years of her employment she worked for the late County Judge David Wyatt, West Elementary School Principal Jerry Harris, and Circuit Clerk Claudia Nobles and Judge John Kemp. At the Guard Office she says she made friends for a life time, and then the West Elementary teachers, students, and their families grew close to her forever. Her last job she was hired in a newly created position to collect felony fines and restitution. She was so proud that after three years she more than tripled the annual revenues that she retired! Her part-time retirement job was with the ortho docs, Drs. Allen and Angel where she also met many people from all over the area, and made another set of new friends! She is a published writer and has also written feature articles for the Batesville Guard TV Guide and the Arkansas Democrat Gazette.
She has a daughter, Misty Long Sparks, son-in-law Dloyd Sparks, and three grands, Dalton Lee, Victoria Lynn and Anna Rose, who own her heart, and three more heartbeat grands, Nico and Corbin of Washington, and a late granddaughter, Ginger Savannah. Her late husband, Ken Smith, was the Batesville Postmaster.
Totally retired now, Ginger offers her time and writing abilities to OGTC as she travels around the state and visits with so many nice folks, writes reviews, and tries to be a worthy representative for Ozark Gateway Tourism. She is a people person who really cares for all God has blessed us with in our beautiful state of Arkansas in the United States of America.