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story.lead_photo.caption Christine Clark, 2, of Bismarck, checks out her face painting at Brickfest 2017. The 38th annual Malvern Brickfest will take place this weekend, beginning Friday afternoon. The festival will feature live entertainment; a 5K run; car, truck and motorcycle shows; arts and crafts vendors; games; and food. For more information, visit www.malvernbrickfest.com.

— Celebrating the city’s historic tradition in the brickmaking industry, the 38th annual Malvern Brickfest will take place this weekend, beginning Friday afternoon.

The Malvern Brickfest was established in 1981 after the former Malvern/Hot Spring County Chamber of Commerce president and chairman at the time, along with other area businesses, claimed Malvern as the Brick Capital of the World. Brickfest Chairwoman Von Michael, who has overseen the event for the past 11 years, said the festival celebrates Acme Brick for making Malvern what it is today.

“We will have carnival rides for kids, a petting zoo and vendor spaces for different businesses, as well as food vendors, which will allow festivalgoers to purchase different food,” Michael said. “We will have different things going on all day Saturday.”

According to the website www.malvernbrickfest.com, there will be “live stage entertainment; a 5K run; the car, truck and motorcycle shows; arts and crafts vendors; games; and plenty of fabulous food, along with the annual Baby Back Rib Cook-off.” There will also be events specific to bricks, including the Brick Car Derby, the Best Dressed Brick Contest and the Brick Toss.

There is no cost for admission to the festival, but Michael said there will be a $5 fee for parking in the fairgrounds. Other costs include T-shirts and any food guests might want, but all the events, including the concerts on both nights, are free.

Headlining the concert series is American country musician Phil Vassar. The Hardage Sisters and the band Pure & Simple will perform Friday night, while musician Abby Lindsey will open for Vassar on the Bank of the Ozarks Stage, beginning at 8 p.m. Saturday.

The majority of the festival will be held at Malvern City Park, but the car shows will take place on the campus of College of the Ouachitas. Still, there haven’t been a lot of changes made to the festival during its run.

“We try to maintain the same lineup; we just change singers and bands,” Michael said. “We have moved it to the city park because we outgrew our original space back in 2010. Now we are more centrally located.

“The city of Malvern has been so gracious in helping us maintain and prepare the park. Mayor Brenda Weldon has been in constant contact with us in helping us prepare.

“She does a fabulous job where Brickfest is concerned.”

With a free admission, it is hard to gauge attendance numbers, but Michael estimated that last year, the festival had an attendance of about 3,500. She said that one year, there were probably closer to 5,000 people.

“Hopefully, everything will go great this year,” Michael said. “The planning stages are over. We are just waiting till next week.”

Michael said Acme Brick will donate 10,000 bricks that will be raffled off to an individual. She said a bunch of prizes will be available to win during the two-day event.

She said a lot of help with the festival comes from sponsors and local volunteers. She said more volunteers are always needed, and those who are interested can either stop by the information booth the day of the event or call her at (501) 337-2113.

Michael said one of the reasons the festival has been so successful has been the community involvement. She said with the event being at the end of June, it gives people something to do and gives them a little bit of a break.

“It is for them so they are more involved,” she said. “It is a personal community event. Most cities have some sort of festival, and this one allows Hot Spring County and Malvern to shine.”

Staff writer Sam Pierce can be reached at (501) 244-4314 or spierce@arkansasonline.com.

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