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Legends of Arkansas spotlights music, art talent

By Jennifer Nixon

This article was published May 29, 2014 at 2:15 a.m.

good-time-ramblers-is-one-of-a-long-list-of-arkansas-bands-taking-to-the-stage-for-the-second-legends-of-arkansas-festival-an-arkansas-only-celebration-of-music-art-and-business

Good Time Ramblers is one of a long list of Arkansas bands taking to the stage for the second Legends of Arkansas festival, an Arkansas-only celebration of music, art and business.

Legends of Arkansas

11 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday, Riverfront Park, Little Rock

Admission: Free

(870) 540-9867

legendsofarkansas.com

It's all-Arkansas, all the time. Even the behind-the-scenes folks will be Arkansans at the second annual Legends of Arkansas festival.

"Including the sound and light people, the food trucks, all the artists, everything," promises executive director Susie Cowan.

Legends of Arkansas began to fill what Cowan and other organizers saw as a gap.

"It was a group of music fans that decided we didn't really have a festival in downtown Little Rock that showcased all the talented Arkansans we have right here," Cowan says, adding that the festival name is somewhat misleading. "This is not about the past. This is about what's going on right now."

What's going on now is a lot of music -- four stages' worth this year and a lineup of bands including Good Time Ramblers, Stephen Neeper & The Wild Hearts, Swampbird and dozens more.

Then there are the artists. The festival is collaborating with the art departments at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. UALR is providing a "pop-up sculpture garden." Students from both schools will bring out an interactive clay story board where visitors can create images and stories.

Last year, street artists decorated big art boards with spray paint and that activity will be back, along with a free-standing art wall.

"We're really excited about all the art that's being incorporated in," Cowan says.

Part of the purpose of the festival is to shine a light on Arkansas talent that often goes unnoticed. But it's not just about visual artists and musicians. The festival is an official Etsy event and celebrates local artisans and crafters and businesses such as Rock Town Distillery and The Freckled Frog.

"Sometimes you can live a block away from people and not know they're making something really cool in their house that you might utilize," Cowan says. "This is a way to showcase what our friends and neighbors are doing in their independent businesses."

Adding some extra excitement, the folks from thEnjoyLife, an indoor skateboard park in North Little Rock, will be out in full force with skateboarding demonstrations and a skate trick competition off the back of the First Security Amphitheater. Usually they're ejected for skating back there so, Cowan reports, this is a big deal for them.

"They can actually legally be able to do this," she says with a laugh.

More stunt work will be on display as aerial silk artists perform from the roof of the amphitheater, which will be decorated with a giant art installation of roses (actually melted records painted red).

FEMA representatives will also be on site with tips for disaster preparedness and there will be donations taken for tornado survivors.

The entire festival is designed to be for the whole family and there will be a kids zone with bounce houses for the young ones to work off some energy.

"It is absolutely family-friendly," Cowan says. "That was part of the idea."

Part of the inspiration for the festival came from Arkansas Earth Day in 2013, where Legends organizers saw musicians, food trucks and families relaxing and having fun.

"It felt so safe and good ...," she says. "We wanted to create an event where it is OK to take your kids and go play for the day and dance and enjoy what we have going on right here in Arkansas."

Weekend on 05/29/2014

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