From hot air balloons and chuck wagons to music, motorcycles and food, there is sure to be an Arkansas festival nearby
Festivals in Arkansas are a wonderful blend of fun, food and entertainment. They are also a great addition to any itinerary. Here are just a few festivals that will undoubtedly tickle your interest.
FAYETTEVILLE ROOTS FESTIVAL
If you love the combination of urban music and a culinary experience, you’ll want to find your way to Fayetteville August 26-29, 2021. The music puts on display the diversity of American music. National, regional and local musicians and bands will perform on music stages located on the downtown Fayetteville Square. Chefs and their restaurants in an effort to support local farmers focus on locally produced products, sourced meats and produce. Visiting chefs from as far away as New York join regional and local chefs as part of the culinary line up. therootsfest.org
WORLD’S SHORTEST ST. PATRICK’S DAY PARADE
You may not be surprised to learn the idea of holding a parade on the shortest street in the U.S. that’s in everyday use came in a pub over a few beers. On St. Patrick’s Day 2004, the first parade was held on Hot Springs National Park, Bridge Street and an Arkansas festival tradition began.
From 1,000 festivalgoers that first year, attendance has grown to 30,000. During that time, the list of Grand Marshals is a who’s who of entertainment. shorteststpats.com
ARKANSAS HOT AIR BALLOON FESTIVAL
Since 1995, Harrison has traditionally hosted the Annual Hot Air Balloon Festival in September. For 2021, put April 16-18 on your calendar for this popular Arkansas festival. Before the balloon race competitions even begin, there’s plenty of fun on the ground including a free concert, vendors, tethered rides, the popular Balloon Glow and plenty of food to fill your weekend. exploreharrison.com/pages/attractions/arkansas-hot-airballoon-state-championship/
STEEL HORSE RALLY
Since 2014, Fort Smith has been the host of this Arkansas festival whose mission is to “Honor All Who Serve.” Recognized as a premier event in the region, the rally has donated more than $100,000 to charities in the community.
In addition to concerts and entertainment features of the Steel Horse Rally are Thunder Through the Valley Motorcycle Parade, charity rides and poker runs and a new event for 2021, Cops and Cones. The Rally scheduled for May 7 & 8, 2021 is just another good reason to visit Fort Smith. thesteelhorserally.com
MAGNOLIA BLOSSOM FESTIVAL & WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP STEAK COOK-OFF
Located in southwest Arkansas, the City of Magnolia derives its name from the sweet flowers of the magnolia tree. The courthouse square is lined with this southern favorite. For one Thursday, Friday and Saturday in May, Magnolia is filled with the festival spirit. There are art shows, entertainment, a food court, craft show, canine fun and car shows. May 15, 2021 will be the 31st Annual World Championship Steak Cook-off. The event kicks off with a Parade of Cookers. That evening, visitors purchase a steak dinner featuring a 16 oz. certified ribeye cooked by one of the teams, baked potato and salad. The Magnolia Blossom Festival was included in USA Today & Food Network’s list of the “10 Best Food Festivals.” blossomfestival.org/steak-cook-off/
NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP CHUCKWAGON RACES
The Eoff Ranch in Clinton is the place to be for catching the chuckwagon races and that western spirit. During the week before and through Labor Day, visitors are treated to eight live music performances and karaoke in the Bunk House, ongoing rodeo style events in the arena, daily trail rides and even a fish fry. However, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday it’s all about the chuckwagon races that gave this Arkansas festival its name. Begin discovering your inner cowboy at chuckwagonraces.com.
KING BISCUIT BLUES FESTIVAL
You have plenty of time to plan for attending the October 6-9, 2021 King Biscuit Blues Festival. If you have appreciation for blues music, an American art form, you’ll recognize Helena, Arkansas as the home to the “King Biscuit Time” radio show. It’s there that this Arkansas festival preserves and promotes the music of the Delta. Blues legends and upcoming artists are featured on five stages. The “buskers,” or street performers can be enjoyed through out downtown Helena. “Tent City” is where you’ll find food and vendors. Allow time to explore the eclectic downtown shops. Start planning today for this bucket list Arkansas festival. kingbiscuitfestival.com
This is just a sampling of festivals in Arkansas. For more information, visit the Arkansas Festivals and Events Association at arfea.org. You can research the more than 100 members for specific festivals, or better yet, see what festivals and events are happening near the destination you’re planning to visit.
by Dave Bodle