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story.lead_photo.caption The butterfly pavilion will make an appearance again this year at the Springest on Friday and Saturday in Heber Springs.

— Fans of Heber Springs’ annual Springfest will have a lot to look forward to this year as the festival expands its footprint.

This year’s Springfest will take place Friday and Saturday. In past years, the event has taken place primarily at Spring Park, but this year, activities will also be going on in downtown Heber Springs. This change comes after Downtown Heber Springs, a preservation and support organization, took over the festival. Until this year, the Heber Springs Area Chamber of Commerce organized and put on the event.

“When we took the festival, we knew right off the bat that we didn’t want to change too much, but we wanted to expand it,” said Kathy Phillips, executive director of Downtown Heber Springs.

Growth was one of the goals of transferring festival ownership from the chamber to Downtown Heber Springs, chamber director Julie Murray said.

“We had three festivals, and we weren’t really able to grow them,” Murray said. “Any entity owning three festivals a year is tough, especially when you’re also trying to serve your membership well.”

Murray said the chamber’s members wanted to see more community-development initiatives, and handing off Springfest to Downtown Heber Springs gives the chamber more time to focus on those programs. The festival will also serve as a fundraiser for Downtown Heber Springs, and Murray said she’s already excited about what Phillips and Downtown Heber Springs have done for the festival.

“It’s a win win,” Murray said. “[Phillips] has done a phenomenal job already. We’re helping with this transition year, and next year, she’ll probably take the training wheels off and run it herself.”

Phillips said she is thankful that her organization now has a major event, and she’s hopeful for the funds it will raise.

“It was good timing. We needed an event. It’s a major fundraiser,” she said. “We’re a downtown preservation and revitalization program, so we work to revitalize and support our businesses. A lot of what we do will be put right back into downtown.”

The festival itself is free to attendees. There will be pony rides, a petting zoo, and the Butterfly pavilion sponsored by First Electric Cooperative. Tickets to the pavilion are $3 and include a butterfly glider.

Arts and crafts vendors, food vendors and live entertainment at the Spring Park Band Shell and the Courthouse Square Stage will also take place throughout the weekend.

There will be a special emphasis on first responders and military personnel at the event this year. A Tribute to Our Heroes opening ceremony will take place at 5:30 p.m. Friday at the courthouse square, followed by Rick Crawford & the Triple Nickel Band at 7 p.m.

“We will read the names of the fallen heroes from our area [Friday night],” Phillips said.

The tribute will continue Saturday with emergency-services vehicles on display and a survival-flight landing, Phillips said.

Also on Saturday, the Ride Like a Mountain Man cycling challenge, benefiting the Greer’s Ferry Lake Trails Council, will take place from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Registration at www.bikereg.com/rlamm.

Also on Saturday, Spring Park will be home to the 12th annual Volkswagen Car Show sponsored by the Mountain Top Volkswagen Club. The Springfest Dog Contest, to benefit the Heber Springs Humane Society, will be at the Spring Park Band Shell at 5 p.m., and the Springfest Pageant will be at the Spring Park Amphitheater at the same time.

From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., the Sugarloaf Heritage Council will host Sugarloaf Heritage Days, with live music and activities for children.

“There’s lots of good stuff going on,” Phillips said.

To find out more about Springfest, visit www.downtownhebersprings.com or the Downtown Heber Springs Facebook page at www.facebook.com/DowntownHeberSprings.

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