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Music, art flood Mountain View for Folk Festival

By Jennifer Nixon

This article was published April 17, 2014 at 2:49 a.m.


Crowds enjoy music at Mountain View’s courthouse square during the Arkansas Folk Festival.

A visit to Mountain View can be like a trip to the past at any time, with its small town charm and a focus on old Ozark culture, but that’s especially true during the Arkansas Folk Festival. That’s when the artisans and musicians flood in, when the Ozark Folk Center State Park opens its gates and the whole town turns out for parades and parties in old-fashioned mountain style.

It’s a huge undertaking with tons of food, crafts, activities and especially music.

“There’s more music than you can imagine,” says Mountain View Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Michalle Stevens.

The festival gets an unofficial start with a Young Musicians Concert, 6:30 p.m. today at the Ozark Folk Center State Park. The concert, performed entirely by children, is free but donations will go to the school district’s Music Roots program.

The Ozark Folk Center will have other nighttime concerts through the weekend.

For the rest of the festival, the Courthouse Stage is the main stop for official music during the day Friday and Saturday. There are no repeat performers. Each group performs one half-hour set during the weekend so, Stevens says, “Every 30 minutes you’ll get to hear someone new.”

But anyone who has been to Mountain View knows that stages and schedules aren’t necessary when it comes to music. Folk musicians of all ages and skill levels congregate on street corners and park space for informal jam sessions throughout the festival. Lawn chairs for listeners are recommended.

Talent of another kind is on display at the Artisans Market on the Square, a show and sale of higher-end handmade crafts such as jewelry, pottery and paintings that’s open noon to 6 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

If the market isn’t enough to satisfy the need for handmade crafts, visitors can take a peek at how those crafts are made at the Ozark Folk Center. The craft village with its collection of artisans demonstrating Old World skills in everything from quilting and woodwork to printing and gunsmithing will be open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday with free admission.

The big parade starts at 10 a.m. Saturday. Other Friday and Saturday activities include a merchants fashion show, rodeos, cake walks, talent show and children’s area with bounce houses and a mechanical bull. Most events and activities are free, with the exception of evening concerts and rodeos.

Because parking downtown is at a premium, free shuttle service will be offered between downtown and the Folk Center’s parking lot Saturday.

Things calm by Sunday, with a gospel singalong and a rodeo at the fairgrounds.

The festival always takes place the third weekend in April and this year, that happens to coincide with Easter, which Stevens says can hamper the Folk Festival a bit, though, “We still go on.”

Easter aside, Stevens says this may be a perfect weekend for it for another reason: “A lot of people love to see the dogwoods and redbuds, and I think it will be a perfect hit this year.”

In its 52 years, the festival has grown and sprawled to include dozens of activities. And yet, even with the huge influx of visitors, musicians and crafts people, Mountain View stays friendly and calm.

“Everything in Mountain View seems to be relaxed and laid-back,” Stevens says. “Like Mayberry. It’s an easier way of life.”

Arkansas Folk Festival

Friday-Sunday, Mountain View (870) 269-8068

Weekend, Pages 32 on 04/17/2014

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