Mountain View, Ark., celebrates the holidays
with folk music, crafts and twinkling lights.
By Jinny Ravenscroft Danzer
Tucked into the hills of Arkansas’s Ozarks, Mountain View is a vibrant small town that’s renowned for great acoustic music and fine country crafts. In November and December, visitors come here to hear Christmas favorites laced with bluegrass, gospel and folk influences. Not only can shoppers buy a special gift, they can also make an item to give. Parades and holiday events, plus a town that twinkles under a million lights, make Mountain View a welcome stop for holiday travelers.
Above: Watch exhibitors at work in the Craft Village at the Ozark Folk Center. Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism photos
Below: You can hear music all the time in Mountain View, including during the Ozark Folk Center’s annual Fall Bluegrass Festival Nov. 11–13.
A musical holiday
Mountain View does its best to live up to its claim to be the “Folk Music Capital of the World.” At Mountain View Music and Gifts, 123 W. Washington St., you can hear music any weekend. Observe or join in a jam session any time players get together on the front porch with their banjos, guitars, fiddles and dulcimers. If the weather is bad, these sessions go inside, said owner Scott Pool. He not only sells new instruments but also buys vintage instruments and repairs them for sale.
“I sold a vintage 1930s Martin guitar on consignment for $15,000,” he said. “I called some collectors ahead of time, and there were six at the door when the store opened.”
Musicians usually play Saturday and some Sunday evenings at venues like Jimmy Driftwood Barn on Arkansas Highway 5 North, Ozark Folk Center State Park just north of town, Cash’s White River Hoedown one-half mile north of Highways 5 and 9, and Brickshy’s Backstreet Music Theater on Jefferson Street.
The Ozark Folk Center will host the annual Fall Bluegrass Festival Nov. 11–13. Performers, including Paul Williams, will sing at an all-gospel evening on Thursday. A number of other groups, such as Blue Highway, Lost & Found and Posey Hill, will play during the weekend.
On Thanksgiving Day, local musicians will present a holiday concert at the Ozark Folk Center. Enjoy a Thanksgiving buffet at the park’s Skillet Restaurant, followed by an evening concert.
Musicians from the Ozark Folk Center will sing in a spectacular setting–nearby Blanchard Springs Caverns–for Caroling in the Caverns Nov. 27-Dec. 19. The event is so popular that it sells out every year. If you want to see more of the caverns and their intricate formations, the Dripstone Trail and the Wild Cave Tour are open except for Mondays, Tuesdays and holidays. Hear music and stories after a holiday dinner at the Ozark Folk Center on Dec. 10.
Cash’s White River Hoedown will present three performances of country, rock classics, gospel and Christmas favorites on Nov. 27 and Dec. 4 and 11.
Buy or make
The Ozark Folk Center offers numerous opportunities to create or buy handmade items. In a pottery class Nov. 1, students can make a gingerbread house using cookie cutters. Sign up for Make It a Handmade Christmas Folk School Nov. 18–20 and create a pine needle basket, an old-world Santa or a corn-shuck nativity. The folk school also offers classes for 8- to 12-year-olds.
The Craft Village at the Center will stay open Nov. 4–Dec. 18. View exhibitors at work and purchase their wares for holiday gifts. On Nov. 26, learn how to make healthy holiday cookies. The Ozark Holiday Craft Show Nov. 25 and 26 gives an opportunity to purchase quality gifts from juried artisans.
The Arkansas Craft Gallery, 104 E. Main St., is another wonderful outlet for fine arts and crafts. Shopping events will be offered Nov. 26 and during a holiday open house Dec. 4
Mellon’s Country Store on Arkansas Highway 9 looks like a general store from the 1920s. Vintage signs, a tub of marbles and barrels of old-fashioned candy are here, as is an antique gallery.
With a long grey beard and twinkling eyes, owner Pappy Mellon looks a bit like a mischievous gnome. He makes and sells a variety of toys, and has invented a wooden musical spoon and wooden train whistle that sounds like the real thing.
Take a break from shopping with a visit to Woods Pharmacy and Soda Fountain, 301 W. Main St., which offers ice cream treats, sandwiches and more. A good choice for overnight accommodations would be The Inn at Mountain View, 307 W. Washington St. The bed and breakfast–which has 12 guest rooms, each with a private bath–is owned by Scott and Shay Pool from Mountain View Music and Gifts.
Mountain View, which is on the Arkansas Trail of Holiday Lights, really shines on Dec. 4 for the annual lighting ceremony at courthouse square and along Main Street. Music, a live nativity scene and an appearance by Santa will be part of the festival.
With all the lights, activities and surrounding natural beauty, Mountain View offers the perfect place to prepare for the holidays.
Jinny Ravenscroft Danzer is a contributor from St. Louis, Mo.
|BEFORE YOU GO
For more information, contact the Mountain View Chamber of Commerce at (800) 264-0316 or www.ozarkgateway.com.
To visit Mountain View, ffirst stop by your nearest AAA service office for maps, reservations, TripTiks® and TourBook® guides.
Order free information about Arkansas through the Reader Service Card, found online at http://southern.ai-dsg.com.