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This year, several organizations across Arkansas will celebrate big milestones. From popular festivals to historical commemorations, Arkansas is ready to celebrate big in 2023. Years of dedication, passion and love, organizations, communities and destinations have provided a strong foundation that has made Arkansas a great place to live, work, and raise a family. Here are seven celebrations to put on that brand-new 2023 calendar.
Photo courtesy of Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism
As if we need an occasion to further celebrate the beauty found in our 52 state parks, 2023 marks its centennial year. In 1923, the initial land for Petit Jean State Park was acquired, making it the first state park in Arkansas. The natural beauty and ancient geology of the legendary Petit Jean Mountain inspired the creation of Arkansas’s first state park and with it our state park system. The park mirrors the mountain’s rugged beauty with its rustic-style, native log and stone facilities constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) beginning in 1933. The CCC built trails, roads, bridges, cabins, and the focal point of the park, the historic Mather Lodge, a 24-room lodge overlooking Cedar Creek Canyon with a restaurant, meeting rooms, and a gift shop. And of course, there is Cedar Falls Trail!
Arkansas State Park has just introduced Club 52 – a rewards club that’s fun, full of adventure and open to anyone. Just pick up your free passport at an Arkansas State Park visitor center and begin recording your travels. At every state park you visit, you get a stamp (plus some memories that will last a lifetime) that will earn you stickers, playing cards, t-shirts and great swag from Club 52. Can you get a stamp from all 52? Watch arkansasstateparks.com for events that will be scheduled throughout this year.
In 2023, the Fort Smith Regional Art Museum celebrates the 75th anniversary of the museum’s creation. It was started by the Arkansas Association of University Women in 1948. The museum currently hosts six galleries across its three floors. The ground floor of the museum displays a permanent collection of porcelain sculptures and pottery, as well as exhibitions from area schools. It will kick off its 75th anniversary in January with a Pablo Picasso ceramic collection in the main gallery, “Art Center to Museum – The Last 75 Years” and “The RAM Permanent Collection – 75 Years” in the second-floor galleries. The museum has several events planned throughout the year to celebrate. For more information: fsram.org
In 1963, the first Arkansas Folk Festival was organized and attracted approximately 15,000 people. The festival became an annual event and within a few years was attracting almost 100,000 people to Mountain View, the “Folk Music Capitol of the World”. The 60th-annual event takes place on April 15 and 16, 2023. Festival goers can walk around the historic downtown area and visit the Artisans Market featuring handmade arts and crafts, antique cars and food vendors. There will also be tons of live music and “pickin’ and grinnin’” sessions. For more information: cityofmtnview.org.
The Ozark Mountain UFO Conference takes place each year on the second weekend of April at the Inn of the Ozarks Conference Center. As many as 700 attendees hear national and international researchers discuss their findings regarding unidentified flying objects (UFOs) and related topics. A typical three-day conference begins at 1 p.m. on Friday and ends at noon on Sunday, featuring between nine and twelve speakers, a speakers’ panel discussion and the showing of documentary films.
The Hot Springs Music Festival brings together over 100 international musicians each June to Hot Springs. For two weeks, these talented musicians present concerts and open rehearsals at various venues in town for music lovers to enjoy. The festival pairs mentor musicians from major orchestras, chamber ensembles and conservatories with pre-professional apprentices, all of whom receive full instructional scholarships. The two groups play side by side in orchestral, chamber, solo recital, vocal, choral, and chamber opera repertoire. For more information: hotmusicfestival.com.
Hot Springs has been the scene of one of the most famous St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in the nation. The First Ever 20th Annual World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade will take place March 17 and is held on the famous 98-foot-long Bridge Street, the world’s shortest street in everyday use. For more information: shorteststpats.com
The United States Civil Rights Trail connects more than 100 sites across 14 states, allowing visitors to witness the destinations and landmarks that defined the American civil rights story. When the U.S. Civil Rights Trail debuted, six Little Rock locations were included, and Little Rock was named one of the trail’s Top Ten destinations. For more information: civilrightstrail.com
Do you know of other 2023 celebrations that we should cover? Let us know in the comments below.
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