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story.lead_photo.caption Music on the square at Mountain View is a highlight of the Arkansas Folk Festival. Photo via Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism

MOUNTAIN VIEW — As the self-proclaimed "Folk Music Capital of the World," Mountain View comes tunefully to full life this week after the winter semi-hibernation of Ozark Folk Center State Park.

The park on Mountain View's outskirts opens for the season today. That presages Friday and Saturday's signature spring event: the 57th annual Arkansas Folk Festival.

Official fest hours are 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday.

This is one of the Natural State's most venerable yearly gatherings. It mixes traditional music with other activities at the hilltop folk center and around the Stone County Courthouse, as well as other spots in Mountain View.

The festival marks an exuberant occasion for song and dance, enlivened by the twirling of torsos and tapping of toes. Homespun crafts and their artful creators add to the hill-country spirit.

Ozark Folk Center is unusual among Arkansas state parks in that it mostly closes in the winter, although its Cabins at Dry Creek remain open for overnight guests. The park welcomes visitors starting today to its Crafts Village, Music Auditorium, Homespun Gift Shop and Skillet Restaurant. During Friday and Saturday's festival, admission to the Crafts Village is free.

The Village is populated by nearly two dozen artisans who show visitors how mainly practical skills have been applied since pioneer days. The cornucopia of demonstrations includes herb gardening, weaving, quilting, wood carving, basket making, yarn spinning, doll making, candle making and letter-press printing. Some of the products can be bought in the Homespun Gift Shop.

Expert musicians perform during the Arkansas Folk Festival at Mountain View. (Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism)
Expert musicians perform during the Arkansas Folk Festival at Mountain View. (Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism)

Concerts take place at least a couple of evenings a week in the folk center's 1,000-seat theater, with this weekend's headliners being Joe Purdy at 7 p.m. Friday and Love Holler at 7 p.m. Saturday. Along with those scheduled events, folk music is performed during the day on park grounds.

The center's website waxes lyrical about music occupying "very special places in the hearts of Ozark Mountain folk. The songs of the South and the folk-dance tunes of the region provide a looking glass offering a treasured glimpse of the history of American folk music in Arkansas.

"The fiddle and banjo were favorite sources of entertainment for pioneer settlers, and these two popular American folk instruments still sing out among the sounds one hears today when visiting the beautiful Ozarks. Guitars, mandolins, dulcimers, autoharps and other acoustic instruments join to create the old-time music that is still enjoyed to this very day in Mountain View, the heart of the Ozark folk-music scene."

A festival highlight in downtown Mountain View will be Saturday's parade, traveling west on Main Street starting at 10 a.m. This year's theme, "Timeless Traditions," is aimed at inspiring locals to re-create favorite parade floats from times past.

Prefiguring the Arkansas Folk Festival was a 1941 spring event, the Stone County Folkways Festival, held at Blanchard Springs Recreation Area and featuring a jig-dance contest. America's entry into World War II that December put additional festivals in abeyance, a gap that stretched for a couple of decades.

The current festival got its start in 1963, 10 years before the opening of Ozark Folk Center State Park. The event plays a lively role each April in helping keep Mountain View a magnet for music-minded visitors.

Ozark Folk Center State Park, 1032 Park Ave., Mountain View, is fully open today through Nov. 9. The Crafts Village is closed Sundays and Mondays. Normal admission to the Crafts Village or Music Auditorium is $12 for adults, $7 for children 6-12, $29.50 for a family of two adults and any children under 18. There are also combined-entry tickets. Visit ozarkfolkcenter.com or call (870) 269-3851.

For details on other Mountain View attractions, visit mountainviewtourism.com.

Style on 04/16/2019

Print Headline: Festival starts Friday amid crafts, performing

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