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story.lead_photo.caption Headquarters for High Cotton on the Bayou festival at Scott Settlement Plantation is the former Scott Train Depot. (Photo by Marcia Schnedler, special to the Democrat-Gazette)

Music sets the tone for three of Arkansas' liveliest fall festivals, playing to the disparate but overlapping sounds of rock 'n' roll, blues and country. Other major events in the cooler autumn season span topics as diverse as lumbering, goats, wine, crystals, outhouse racing and the calling of ducks.

Here's a potpourri of popular festivals through the end of November. Entrance to the grounds is usually free, but admission is charged for some music and other programs:

Depot Days Festival, Newport, Friday-Saturday. This fest, despite its name, mainly celebrates the musical history of Jackson County and its Rock 'n' Roll Highway 67 (so proclaimed by the General Assembly). There's a railroad tie to the music's setting, on a stage near the restored Iron Mountain Railroad depot. There'll be performances from 6-11:30 p.m. Friday and 1-8:30 p.m. Saturday.

Timberfest, Sheridan, Oct. 4-5. The Natural State's heritage as a timberland is hailed at Timberfest, with the Arkansas State Lumberjack Championship capping this 36th yearly event. A hint of what Paul Bunyon might have accomplished here can be seen in categories including the horizontal chop, ax throw, Jack-and-Jill crosscut, vertical cut and chainsaw. Other events include a horseshoe tournament and a pine-wood derby race of miniature cars.

High Cotton on the Bayou, Scott, Oct. 5. Nostalgia for the so-called good old days in rural Arkansas is evoked at Scott Settlement Plantation, although some presentations may remind visitors that life back then involved a lot of toil and sweat. Included will be demonstrations of ax grinding, butter churning and sorghum cooking. Youngsters can enjoy homespun games such as jumping rope, sack racing and stilt walking.

Fest, Perryville, Oct. 5. There'll be a lot of kidding around — with oh-so-cute baby goats as well as their parents — at this Perry County gathering. Events will include parades with goats in costume, goat theater and (honest) goat yoga. Items for sale will include goat's-milk soap decked out with horns. A storyteller from Central Arkansas Library System will render "The Three Billy Goats Gruff."

Wiederkehr Wine Festival, Wiederkehr Village, Oct. 5. This celebration at Arkansas' oldest winery, founded atop St. Mary's Mountain in 1880, lets visitors try their hand — er, feet — at stomping grapes. Along with purple toes, there'll be dancing feet as a polka band plays while a conga line makes its merry way through Wiederkehr's cellars. Free wine tasting will help enliven the mood, along with free tours of the winery and its vineyards.

King Biscuit Blues Festival, Helena-West Helena, Oct. 9-12. This blues extravaganza earns national — in fact, international — acclaim for the quality and quantity of its acts. Five stages, including the levee-top main amphitheater, operate along the banks of the Mississippi River to host more than 60 bands and solo performers. Headliners include Ruthie Foster on Oct. 10, Delbert McClinton on Oct. 11, and Kenny Wayne Shepherd on Oct. 12.

Quartz, Quiltz & Craftz Fest, Mount Ida, Oct. 11-13. Montgomery County Fairgrounds provides the setting for this triple-header event that includes shows of gems and minerals, quilts, and arts and crafts. On the schedule in the self-styled Quartz Crystal Capital of the World are mineral-digging competitions, one billed as a world championship for adults and the other for youngsters.

Johnny Cash Heritage Festival, Dyess, Oct. 17-19. Marty Stuart will join Rosanne Cash and other members of the Cash family at noon Oct. 19 in an outdoor concert near the Arkansas legend's restored boyhood home. General admission is $35; reserved seats are $100. Tickets are $15 for a presentation hosted on Oct. 18 by Rosanne Cash. There'll be free music by regional artists the evenings of Oct. 17-18.

Arkansas Bean Fest & Great Arkansas Championship Outhouse Races, Mountain View, Oct. 25-26. The fun starts cooking the morning of Oct. 26 when a ton of pinto beans begins boiling in 30 large cast-iron pots. They'll be served free with cornbread and onions at noon. Zany happenings start at 1 p.m. with the Parade of Outhouses, followed by the privy racing, with drivers perched on a toilet seat and two pushers providing the power.

A midway with concessions and rides is a family feature of Stuttgart's Wings Over the Prairie Festival, set for Thanksgiving week. (Photo by Marcia Schnedler, special to the Democrat-Gazette)
A midway with concessions and rides is a family feature of Stuttgart's Wings Over the Prairie Festival, set for Thanksgiving week. (Photo by Marcia Schnedler, special to the Democrat-Gazette)

Wings Over the Prairie Festival, Stuttgart, Nov. 23-30. On Thanksgiving weekend in Stuttgart, turkey takes a back seat to duck. Staged each November since 1936, Wings Over the Prairie is renowned as host of the World's Championship Duck Calling Contest, set for 2 p.m. Nov. 30. There are also duck-calling events for women and youngsters, as well as a trap-shoot competition and a duck-gumbo cook-off, plus a carnival midway.

Details on these and other fall festivals in the Natural State are available at, the website of the Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism.

Style on 09/24/2019

Print Headline: Festivals cover state with various diversions, events


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