Family Day at Old Independence Regional Museum – May 5th

Museum to Host Spring Family Day

Old Independence Regional Museum is going to the birds… and the bears and maybe even some butterflies!  Museum staff is excited to announce plans for the annual Spring Family Day to be held Saturday, May 5, 2018 from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. on the museum grounds.  As part of Arkansas Heritage Month, the theme for this year’s family day is “Wild History,” where families can learn about native wildlife in the area from settlement days to present time.  This free program will feature hands-on crafts as well as guest speakers.

If you ever wondered about the black bears in Arkansas then you can attend the presentation by guest speaker Myron Means, a bear expert with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, at noon.  Arkansas was once known as the Bear State for our abundance of bears!  Means will be speaking about the history of bears in Arkansas, bear facts and biology and the efforts to ensure that we continue to have a healthy bear population.

Not all wildlife is bear-sized, and wildlife rehabilitator Rebecca Gage will join us from Ash Flat. Gage will speak about the needs and habits of local wildlife as well as answer questions about rehabilitation and nuisance animals. People of all ages will enjoy making tracks of their own.

Rounding out the trio of special guest speakers is Nathan Reinhart, Independence County CEA and Staff Chair with U of A Cooperative Extension Service.  He will be on hand with a variety of natural specimens to view and can provide information and answer questions.

A variety of games and crafts will offer children of all ages a hands-on learning experience.  Children will have the opportunity to make animal salt dough ornaments and bird feeders.  People of all ages will enjoy the “scent game” where you can test your nature knowledge by seeing if you can identify scents like animals do to find food and avoid predators.

To help learn about how the food chain works visitors will be making sets of nesting tubes.   The tubes, which represent different links in the food chain, “nest” within each other to vividly illustrate how a food chain works. Starting with the smallest, each member of the chain is “eaten” by the next until all of them are “consumed” by the top member.  Other activities include making origami birds, tie-dyed butterflies, and more. The talented Becka Paxson will be on site doing free nature themed face painting.

“We want families to enjoy their time together, learning about some of the wild creatures native to our area. This will also be a great opportunity for families to visit the museum free of charge,” stated Terri Crawford, Humanities Educator. The gift shop, stocked with items from local artists, authors, and crafters, will also be open to the public.

Spring Family Day is an annual event for Old Independence Regional Museum, but this year the program is made possible in part by a grant from the Department of Arkansas heritage, funded by your 1/8 cent conservation tax, Amendment 75. This year’s theme, “Off the Beaten Path: Explore and Enjoy Arkansas’s Natural Heritage,” will highlight the work of the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission (ANHC), one of the divisions of the Department of Arkansas Heritage. ANHC works to conserve the state’s natural landscape and biological diversity through research, stewardship of public lands and educational outreach.

Old Independence serves 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 1820s Arkansas territory.

The museum is open Tuesday-Saturday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Admission is $5.00 for adults, $3.00 for seniors, veterans and students, and $2.00 for children 6-12.  The museum is located at 380 South 9th Street, between Boswell and Vine Streets in Batesville.

This humanities program is made possible by local support from Independence County and the City of Batesville, as well as by Challenge Grant Endowment funding from the National Endowment of the Humanities.  Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.


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.