Fairfield Bay hosting Civil War exhibit

By Syd Hayman Published June 16, 2016 at 12:00 a.m.
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Fought in Earnest: Civil War Arkansas is a traveling exhibit produced by the Arkansas History Commission that features images of original Civil War documents, photographs and artifacts from the commission’s collections. The exhibit opened Tuesday at the Fairfield Bay Community Education Center.

FAIRFIELD BAY — A traveling exhibit has made its next stop in Fairfield Bay.

Fought in Earnest: Civil War Arkansas, a free exhibition, is open at the Fairfield Bay Community Education Center, 130 Village Lane, Suite 5. The exhibit is presented by the Arkansas History Commission in Little Rock, which is the official repository for state records in Arkansas.

“The exhibit is based on a book that the History Commission produced at the beginning of the Civil War sesquicentennial and a digital gallery that was on our website,” said Lisa Speer, state historian

and Arkansas History Commission director.

Education Center Director Catherine Swift said that in February, the center hosted the Arkansas History Commission’s World War I exhibit, which will be similar to the exhibit opening at the center on Flag Day.

“It’s a series of banners of photographs that will have information on how Arkansas participated in these battles,” she said. “That will run for two weeks.”

Fought in Earnest: Civil War Arkansas will be presented from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. today and Tuesday through June 23.

The 15 banners have images from the Arkansas History Commission’s collection that show historical photographs, maps, paintings and more.

“There are things like images of weapons from our collection; photographs of notable people, notable Arkansans; and excerpts of letters and diaries kept by Arkansans who fought in the conflict or who were affected by the war and the homefront,” Speer said.

This year is the first time the Education Center featured an Arkansas Historic Commission exhibit, and Dan Feuer, managing editor at the Fairfield Bay News, helped make that happen, Swift said. When Swift became director in June 2015, she wanted to add more events to the center.

“There were very few programming activities,” she said. “As we were increasing our variety of activities, he contacted [the commission] and found out there were several traveling exhibits that were on loan.”

Swift said the World War I exhibit was so successful that the Education Center booked the Civil War exhibit just in time for holidays such as Flag Day and Independence Day.

“We felt it was patriotic and a good day to do it,” she said.

The Civil War exhibit will be structured the same way the World War I exhibit was, Swift said.

“We had it open for about two weeks. It was kind of a donation thing,” she said. “We had people coming and going. It wasn’t something that you had to schedule; it was simply a walk-in exhibition.”

Speer said that even though the sesquicentennial of the Civil War has passed, she’s glad the exhibit is still making its way across the state.

“The Civil War affected Arkansas uniquely because we had soldiers who fought for the Union and the Confederacy,

and it was very much a divided state,” she said. “That was a situation that affected Arkansas more profoundly than the states around us.”

Swift said opening an exhibit on history will be beneficial for both residents and out-of-town guests.

“Our local population is a combination of our resort guests and residents. For [guests], it’s kind of an introduction to the state and the history of the state,” she said. “Our full-time residents are usually from the Midwest or the South, and they’ve chosen to make their home here. They’re retired, they’re educated, and they have a great level of activity. They’re into everything that Fairfield Bay has to offer.”

Swift said the Education Center will look into featuring an Arkansas Historic Commission exhibit for a third time this fall. She said the exhibit’s banners will be set up the night before it opens, and that volunteers will help.

“It takes up at least a room or a room and a half in the Education Center,” she said of the exhibit.

Swift said she hopes the Civil War exhibit will bring in people who will revisit the center for its weekly programs on painting, crafting and more.

“As the mall area here in Fairfield Bay gets more populated, we anticipate more people coming to see the exhibit,” she said. “It’s good for spreading the information about what the Education Center has to offer.”

For more information, call (501) 884-4440.

Staff writer Syd Hayman can be reached at (501) 244-4307 or shayman@arkansasonline.com.

Staff Writer Syd Hayman can be reached at 501-244-4342 or shayman@arkansasonline.com.

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