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MALVERN — Friday marks the beginning of summer, and folks in Malvern are gearing up for their annual summertime festival, the Malvern Brickfest. The festival was started in 1981 by local leaders to celebrate the importance of the brick industry in Hot Spring County, dubbing Malvern the Brick Capital of the World.

Back to Our Roots is the theme of Brickfest 2019, set for Friday and Saturday at the Malvern City Park, with a few activities scheduled at other locations. Admission to the festival is free; however, there is a charge for parking and for items purchased from vendors.

“After hearing feedback from local residents and visitors from around the state, the Malvern Brickfest is shaking things up a bit and going with a decidedly more local approach in its 29th year,” said Von Michael, Brickfest Committee chairwoman.

“Instead of hiring a [big-name] band as we have done in the past, all of the artists set to entertain at the festival are local … from Malvern and nearby communities. We want to create a presence of local businesses — local food vendors, local arts and crafts vendors, and local artists,” said Michael, who has been involved with the festival for more than 10 years.

“It’s all about community. With so many other things going on in the state, we decided to use local talent this year,” she said. “Our headliner Saturday night is the Gable Bradley Band, presented by Acme Brick and Sykes Enterprises.

“Gable is originally from Hot Springs, which is just across the county line. We think he is the up-and-coming Justin Moore of Poyen, which is another neighboring town. Even though Gable now lives in Nashville, [Tennessee], he is just about as local as you can get. He plays mostly country, but he plays all kinds of music. His musical influences include Bruce Springsteen, Kip Moore, Johnny Cash and Motown.”

Opening for Bradley, who will perform on the Bank OZK Stage at 9:30 p.m. Saturday, will be The Lazy Desperados at 6:30 and Sometimes Sideways at 8, also on the Bank OZK Stage. Also performing on Saturday will be Arklahoma at 2:45 and Dino D and The D Train Band at 4, both on the Malvern City Park Pavilion Stage.

Malvern Brickfest will kick off at 5:30 p.m. Friday with opening ceremonies at the Malvern City Park Pavilion Stage. An evening of live gospel music on Friday will feature the trio Justified at 7 p.m., followed by Crutchfield the Band at 8 on the Park Pavilion Stage.

Other activities will begin at 9 a.m. Friday with a quilt show, sponsored by the Hot Spring County Extension Homemakers, set up at the Hot Spring County fairgrounds and a petting zoo, sponsored by the Pleasant Hill 4-H Club, at Malvern City Park. Both events will continue Saturday. Rides and games will open at noon Friday and at 8 a.m. Saturday at Malvern City Park.

Michael said Brickfest 2019 will again be packed full of family fun and entertainment for all ages. Events will include a car show, a 5K race, a horseshoe tournament, a baby-back-ribs cook-off, a watermelon-eating contest, 3-on-3 basketball, a dog show, a Baggo tournament and prize drawings, as well as traditional events such as the brick toss, the best-dressed brick contest and the brick-car derby. The Brickfest Bull Bash, a professional bull-riding rodeo, will be presented at 7 p.m. Saturday in the Hot Spring County Fairgrounds arena; tickets may be purchased at the arena.

Michael said parking fees will be $5 for Friday and $10 for Saturday, and a portion of the proceeds will benefit another community program.

“The Magnet Cove High School Band has been invited to perform at the Peach Bowl in Atlanta, Georgia, in December,” she said. “Members of the band will assist with parking cars, and the band will receive half of the proceeds. Again, it’s all about community here in Hot Spring County.”

“We feel very blessed that Brickfest has honored us by allowing us to work the parking lot,” said Andy Beck, the Magnet Cove High School band director.

“This will allow us to raise a chunk of change very quickly. Magnet Cove is a very small school, and it’s quite an endeavor for us to try to take 70 students and 20 adults on a trip like this,” he said.

“Through the efforts of our Band Boosters Club, we have already had one fundraiser and have one-third of the total [money needed] knocked out. My motto is, ‘Work smarter, not harder.’ We are trying to be very efficient in our efforts to raise money,” Beck said.

“Working in the parking lot at Brickfest gives all the kids an opportunity to participate in a fundraiser,” he said. “All the money goes into the same pot. … Any kid willing to work will be able to make the trip to the Peach Bowl.”

Michael said there will be “a couple of new things” at this year’s Brickfest.

“The College of the Ouachitas and the Hot Spring County Leadership Forum will set up a booth to collect cereal as part of a summer cereal drive sponsored by THV11 and the Arkansas Foodbank,” she said. “And Malvern National Bank will set up its MNB Money Machine. … People will be able to go in and catch fake money that’s flying around with a chance to win prizes.”

For more information on Brickfest 2019, call (501) 732-6412, go to malvernbrickfest.com, or find Malvern Brickfest on Facebook.

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