Annual festivals announce autumn in Arkansas and Missouri.
Souvenirs are an important part of any vacation. A handmade remembranceor better, something you createdcan keep vacation memories alive for years. The Arkansas and Missouri Ozarks are a haven for crafts and offer opportunities for travelers to make a memento. Combine Ozark crafts with splendid fall color, and you have a getaway that’s close and creative.
One mile from Mountain View’s Courthouse Square on state Highway 382 is the Ozark Folk Center, a place where visitors learn to make baskets, quilts, rugs or banjos. A part of the Arkansas state park system, the center is a 640-acre living history park where classes in traditional crafts, music and herb gardening are taught.
Additional classes are offered in two- and three-day sessions throughout the fall. Primitive clay pottery, log cabin relief carving and plein air painting (the act of painting in an outside environment) are among the workshops offered this fall. Or, with just a couple of days’ notice, you can schedule a private session with instructors in any of these mediums.
Visitors also may watch and ask questions at more than 20 demonstration centers at the park. All of these arts and crafts are for sale at cabins and the park gift shop. The Ozark Folk Center is open Wednesday through Saturday through Sept. 29. From Oct. 228, the park is open Tuesday through Sunday. The Craft Village is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
For an extended visit, stay the night at Dry Creek Lodge, or enjoy a rib-sticking meal at the Skillet Restaurant.
Mountain View makes a good base from which visitors can comb these hills for handcrafted treasures. For example, Sept. 1416 is the sixth annual “Off the Beaten Path Studio Tour,” an opportunity to see the private studios of 24 Ozark artisans. Each of the studios on this self-guided driving tour is located within a 30-mile radius of historic Courthouse Square in Mountain View. Remember to bring cashnot everyone accepts credit cards here.
Detailed driving directions and information about the artists are in a booklet available about one week prior to the tour at the Mountain View Chamber of Commerce, 107 N. Peabody.
The Courthouse Square also is home to Ozark Rocker and Wood Company, 116 W. Main. This massive store carries handcrafted rocking chairs made from oak, ash, walnut and cedar. Shoppers also can find furniture for other rooms and a nice selection of pottery or other local crafts.
Just down the street is the Arkansas Craft Guild, 104 E. Main, where more than 150 guild members display and sell their work. You’ll find traditional and contemporary crafts in mediums that include stained glass, fiber arts, candle making, pottery and woodcarving.
Arkansas artisans flock to the tiny community of War Eagle for the annual War Eagle Fair, held Oct. 1821. For 53 years, the craft festival has attracted some of the best artisans in the country to this community that’s located 13 miles east of Rogers. Organizers say the show can draw almost 200,000 shoppers over four days.
As soon as the sun begins to peak over the hills of northwest Arkansas, enthusiastic shoppers line up to be among the first through the gate, which opens at 8 a.m. But don’t worry about the crowds. There’s plenty of free parking in the rolling fields along the War Eagle River.
The 250 vendor booths are located along the spacious grounds of the War Eagle Mills Farm, an historic homestead that dates to the early 1830s. Take a break from your shopping to explore the gristmill and the mercantile store. To avoid traffic congestion, organizers suggest approaching the site from the south using U.S. Highway 412 and state Route 303.
Missouri’s big festival
There’s always something new, even for guests who return each year to the festival. In addition to the 100 craft demonstrators at Silver Dollar City, this event draws another 100 artisans.
Each weekend provides a special musical performance, including Michael Martin Murphey’s concert on Sept. 21. That concert is a part of the Salute to the Great American Cowboy. Barn dances, cowboy poetry readings and artwork that features images of the American West will be featured.
One of the most popular artists of this series is Buck Taylor who portrayed Newly in the television series, “Gunsmoke.” Taylor now creates watercolor paintings of the American West, and festival-goers can talk with him and purchase his work.
Silver Dollar City is open Wednesday through Sunday during the Festival of American Music and Crafst. The weekends are crowded, so consider a mid-week visit.
After spending a couple of days in this region, observing and conversing with the artisans, you’ll leave with an appreciation of Ozark crafts.
Diana Lambdin Meyer is a contributor from Parkville, Mo.
Hearty fare feeds craft festival guests
|Sept/Oct 2007 Issue|
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