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Heber Springs opens tourism season with Springfest

by Angela Spencer | April 20, 2014 at 12:00 a.m.
Ellen Hobgood, left, gives an art lesson to Meredith Karr in Hobgood’s Heber Springs gallery. Hobgood will be part of the artists’ block party during Springfest.

HEBER SPRINGS — As flowers bloom and the weather gets warmer, Heber Springs is gearing up to greet the new season with the 27th annual Springfest Arts and Crafts Festival.

“It’s like a welcoming of spring,” local artist Ellen Hobgood said. “It kicks off the year for Heber Springs. It’s kind of our opening weekend.”

Springfest will take place Friday and Saturday, with arts and crafts for the whole family.

Hobgood said that last year there was an “accidental block party” as artists gathered together at the festival, and this year she has been working to make the block party an established feature with art demonstrations.

“As a kid, seeing artists work and getting to do it yourself makes a profound statement on you,” Hobgood said. “Even as artists, we try to learn from each other.”

Hobgood’s gallery is at the corner of West Main and South Third streets, and she said she opened the studio so she could keep creating her own art, which includes acrylic paintings of Santa Claus.

“For me, art is a mainstay to survive,” she said. “Every community needs a place for the arts, and — from an artist’s perspective — I’m happy to be here every year.”

Melisa Gardner, Heber Springs Chamber of Commerce executive director, said Springfest is an important event to launch the tourist season.

“We’re very driven by tourism in Heber Springs,” she said. “We have one of the closest lakes to Memphis, and the shops downtown are really important. Tourism is really what keeps us going.”

This is the 27th year for Springfest, and Gardner said finding new things for the festival is important.

“Each year we try to freshen it up,” she said.

This year, Gardner said, she has been reaching out to commercial vendors to participate in Springfest. Last year, the new feature was Average Joe’s Backyard Burnoff BBQ Contest.

“Eight days before the festival last year, one of our local business owners came to me and said he wanted to do a barbecue contest,” Gardner said.

They pulled it off, and the event was successful enough to come back this year on Saturday at Spring Park. The proceeds from the contest will go toward renovations at the Heber Springs Single Mothers’ Shelter.

Friday, the festival will start off at noon in two locations. From noon to 7 p.m., the Creative Arts Society Show will take place downtown. At the same time in Spring Park, there will be arts and crafts, food vendors, the Butterfly Pavilion, inflatables, a petting zoo and pony rides. Also at Spring Park, the Heber Springs Elementary School Honor Choir will perform at 1:30 p.m., the band Eleven Cent Ransom will perform at 5 p.m., and the Miss Springfest Pageant will take place at 6 p.m.

From 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday downtown, the classic car, truck and bike show will take place at the Court Square, the Creative Arts Society Show will continue, and Hobgood’s gallery will host artists painting on the square.

In Spring Park on Saturday, the dog beauty and talent contest, Pooches With Panache, will take place at 10 a.m. Ronald McDonald will visit at noon, the Arkansas Children’s Theatre will perform at 3 p.m., a political stumping and pie auction will take place at 5 p.m., and Imagine That Band will perform at 7 p.m. in the Spring Park Amphitheater.

For more information on the festival, visit www.heber-springs.com/springfest.

Staff writer Angela Spencer can be reached at (501) 244-4307 or aspencer@arkansasonline.com.


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