MOUNTAIN VIEW — Since 1963, spring in the small town of Mountain View has been in ushered by not only the blooming of wildflowers and dogwoods, but also by the Arkansas Folk Festival. It is a festival that marks the return of impromptu musical gatherings, or pickin’, on the Courthouse Square, and a time when craftsmen display their winter’s work. The dates for the 57th Arkansas Folk Festival are April 19-20, 2019 and, as always, admission is free. Most activities will be held at the historic Court Square and the Ozark Folk Center.
Actually, the initial Arkansas Folk Festival was held August 20, 1941 at Mitchell Cave near Blanchard Springs, in the Ozark National Forest. It was named the Stone County Folkways Festival and was the brainchild of the Stone County Extension Homemakers clubs
The purpose of the Folkways Festival, as noted in their souvenir program, was:
The first annual Stone County Folkways Festival has as its aim the bringing together of all the people of Stone County for a day of merrymaking and fellowship. The folk arts and folk craft in which this region abounds will be the featured attractions of the day’s program, to the end that worthy traditional expressions among the people of Stone county may be preserved or revived and take their rightful place in the cultural heritage of America. It is hoped that this Festival becomes an annual event, as it has much educational and historical value.
The festival was interrupted by war and didn’t get rekindled until 1963. Since then, thousands of visitors have reserved the third weekend in April as a time to renew a kinship with traditions as old as Arkansas itself. The Arkansas Folk Festival has become a spring rite for several generations of music and craft enthusiasts.
On both days, this spring event features craft booths displayed on Peabody Ave. and the Artisan’s Market on Washington Ave.
A variety of food vendors, children’s games, and plenty of music in the form of informal “pickin’,” which often begins in the mornings and lasts until well after sundown. This year will also feature scheduled musicians on stage Friday and after the parade on Saturday.
“Summer Days in the Ozarks” will be the theme of the parade along Main Street, which starts at 10 a.m. on Saturday. The parade includes floats, music, horses, dignitaries and a lot of fun!
The festival also signals the opening of the Ozark Folk Center State Park’s 2020 season. During the Festival weekend, free admission will again be offered to the Craft Village, which is open 10am-5pm. Twenty-two master artisans create pottery, woodcarvings, primitive furniture, baskets, decorative brooms, quilts, and many other traditional items. Enjoy three nights of mountain music inside Ozark Highlands Theatre to celebrate Arkansas Folk Festival in the “Folk Music Capital” of Mountain View. Legacy weekend celebrates the past, present, and future of music at the Ozark Folk Center featuring local performers, the music roots program, and a Feature Concert by the legendary Ozark gospel-bluegrass-rock’n’roll group, Big Smith.. The curtain goes up at 7, and tickets are $12 for the show. https://www.arkansasstateparks.com/parks/ozark-folk-center-state-park
Free shuttle rides will be offered between the park and downtown both Friday and Saturday. Visitors are encouraged to park free at the Ozark Folk Center and take the shuttle to downtown and avoid the hassle of trying to find parking around the Square. For more information about the Ozark Folk Center, call (870) 269-3851, or visit www.ozarkfolkcenter.com.
Don’t forget to check out Mellon’s Country Store, The Mountain View Meeting Place, The Jimmy Driftwood Barn, and the Gospel Opry for a variety of music shows. Trout fishing on White River, tours of Blanchard Springs Caverns, camping and hiking in the Ozark National Forest and other activities are available.
For complete festival information, contact the Mountain View Area Chamber of Commerce at 1-888-679-2859; or visit www.yourplaceinthemountains.com.
Cathy Drew is a lifelong resident of the region that she loves to promote. She was born in downtown Batesville in the late ’60s, located in one of the eight counties she now enjoys encouraging people to visit.
Drew became associated with the Ozark Gateway Region in 1990 while working at the ad agency (The Media Market Inc.). The agency handled marketing for the regional association, where she and her co-workers produced an annual tabloid publication. She began working as the Ozark Gateway Region director in June 2000.
After Drew became director, she took the region to the next level by helping the tourism organization create a new website and moved it from the old newspaper paper tabloid publication to a color magazine format. She helped open a visitor center for the Ozark Gateway, allowing visitors to pick up information from the entire state 24/7. Over the years, Drew has helped the organization meet new marketing goals, such as in- and out-of-state marketing, assuring that all 100,000 copies of their magazines are distributed each year.
In 2016, she assisted in creating the first Ozark Gateway Region Golf Classic. The tournament continues to grow each year, allowing the organization to expand its co-op program and helping each county have dedicated promotion. Drew stays busy at Ozark Gateway as the ad sales manager, magazine editor, day-to-day office operations, trade show representative, and magazine distribution representative, all while ensuring that the region is represented all over Arkansas and southern Missouri.
Drew was featured in several local and statewide publications over the years, as well as the 1997 cover of the Ozark Gateway Region tabloid, along with her then 4-year-old son, Jon. She has received several awards, such as the Batesville Rotarian of the Year in 2010 and a three-time Paul Harris Fellow.
She also has served as an Independence County election commissioner for several years. She now serves as their co-election coordinator, helping with behind-the-scenes management of voting equipment, day-to-day election deadlines, and poll worker training.
Drew serves on the Arkansas Travel Council Board of Directors, is Batesville Rotary Club Past President, and is the Rotary Clubs’ current publicity chair.
In March of 2018, Drew was honored with induction into the Arkansas Tourism Hall of Fame for her many years of dedicated service to the tourism industry.