Annual Rodeo of the Ozarks
The annual Rodeo of the Ozarks kicks off July 3-6 in Springdale at Parson’s Stadium. The yearly event offers authentic stagecoach rides, good food and entertainment at the Stagecoach Inn the full week prior to the rodeo. There are two rodeo parades, and then more than 500 contestants and professional athletes compete in six PRCA and WPRA sanctioned events -- Calf Roping, Steer Wrestling, Barrel Racing, Bareback Riding, Saddle Bronco Riding and the ever-popular Bull Riding. website: parsonsstadium.com
Pops on the River
Join more than 30,000 music lovers at Little Rock’s Riverfront Park on Independence day for the 31st Annual Pops on the River. The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra’s performance is the highlight of a day’s worth of Fourth of July events, including a Kid’s Pavilion and Car Pavilion, with free activities for kids and a marketplace with shopping, food trucks and other activities. The Oh Say! Can You Sing? Top 5 finalists will perform at 5:30 p.m., followed by the Happy Tymes Jazz Band and the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra. Fireworks begin at 9:30 p.m. Reserved amphitheater seating is ten bucks but the event itself is free. Bring your lawn chair or blanket and enjoy great music under the stars!
Johnson County Peach Festival
73rd annual Johnson County Peach Festival will be held in Clarksville July 25-28. The event is a hodge-podge of fun family activities spanning four days on the town square. Among the amusements: a terrapin derby, frog jump, peach pit spitting contest, parade, bicycle obstacle course, egg toss, barbershop quartet music, gospel sing, craft booths, concessions, banana split contest, street dance, greased pig chase, peach cobbler/jam & jelly bake-off, 4-mile run, water balloon toss, bass tournament, the Miss Arkansas preliminary pageants, and the Princess Elberta pageant. Website: jocopeachfestival.8m.com
World Championship Cardboard Boat Races
Ever taken a cruise in a boat made of nothing but cardboard and duct tape? Watch what floats – and what doesn’t – July 26th on Greers Ferry Lake at Heber Springs at the annual World Championship Cardboard Boat Races. Three divisions (one or two person boats, team boats and mechanical boats) in both adult and children’s races vie to see not only who makes it through the 200 yard course the quickest – but who does it without sinking. Past entries include cardboard replicas of USS battleships, planes, trains and even the Starship Enterprise. Trophies awarded include the Pride of the Fleet, the Titanic Award, plus first, second and third places in each division for speed. Other activities include a tug of war, a watermelon eating contest, a treasure dig for kids, sand sculpting and the Cardboard Boat Demolition Derby. Website: heber-springs.com
Hope Watermelon Festival
The state’s largest watermelons are celebrated each year at the Hope Watermelon Festival. The 38th annual event, set for August 7-9, includes ice-cold Hope watermelons sold by the slice, watermelon weigh-ins, and watermelon eating and seed spitting contests. Watermelons have long been a calling card for the city. The festival itself dates back to the mid-1920s when the city staged a one-day annual festival. During these early events, citizens served ice-cold watermelon to passengers on the many trains that stopped in Hope. Hope does indeed lay claim to the largest watermelon in the world. In spring 2006, the Guinness Book of World Records certified Arkansas native Lloyd Bright’s 268.8 pound melon (grown on a farm east of Hope) as the world’s largest. Website: hopemelonfest.com
Tontitown Grape Festival
What has grapes, a Ferris Wheel, books, fried chicken and more than six thousand pounds of homemade pasta? That’s the Tontitown Grape Festival! Celebrating its 116th year, the festival spans the grounds surrounding St. Joseph’s Church along US Highway 412 with acres and acres of craft exhibitors, midway games and amusements and concert stages. The star attraction is a multi-night dinner of homemade pasta and sauce, served up with fried chicken and all the fixings to thousands of hungry event-goers. Other events include the Run for the Grapes, a large book sale and the Queen Concordia Pageant.
National Championship Chuckwagon Races
Want a taste of the Wild West? Head to Clinton August 23 - 31, 2014 for the National Championship Chuckwagon Races. This annual event brings competitors in from all over the nation to engage in wagon races, bronc fanning, Western music and dances, trail rides, barn dances and more. Come enjoy the famed Snowy River Race or attend a non-denominational cowboy church service on Sunday morning. The event includes a Western trade show, music, food and more.
Bikes, Blues & BBQ Motorcycle Rally
Hundreds of thousands of bikers will converge on northwest Arkansas September 18-21 for the largest motorcycle event in the state. Bikes, Blues & BBQ is the largest non-profit, family friendly motorcycle rally in the country. Motorcycle lovers will fan out through the Ozarks to meet up in Fayetteville to hear the blues, eat barbecue and help those in need. Website: bikesbluesandbbq.org
Ding Dong Days in Dumas
Have a ding-dong of a great time at the 35th annual Ding Dong Days Festival in Dumas September 20-27, 2014. Watch as the Ding Dong Daddy and Ding Dong Momma are crowned. Join in for the Ding Dong eating contest. The festival also features rides and activities for children, a parade, live entertainment, and a variety of booths and concessions. Website: www.dumasar.net/2010-ding-dong-days-schedule.html
White River Water Carnival
Batesville is the site of 71st annual White River Water Carnival, coming up September 22nd. The event features a Kids Zone with inflatables, arts and crafts, live music and fun festival food along the banks of the White River. Make sure and visit the Batesville Chamber of Commerce to get a free water gun that can be used to “soak” the floats in the “wet zone” during the festival parade. website: MyBatesville.org
Each year, Timberfest is held the first weekend of October in downtown Sheridan. The event is held on the Grant County Courthouse Square. Central to the festival is a Lumberjack Competition and parade. This is the 30th year for the happening.
Timber has long played an important role in the south central Arkansas town, nestled amidst a region of towering pines. Its heritage is honored annually during this festival. The community of Sheridan is somewhat of a rarity in that it is a Southern town named for a Union general -- General Phillip Sheridan. The town is 30 miles south of Little Rock via U.S. 167. Website: grantcountychamber.com.
Arkansas State Fair
The largest event in all of Arkansas, the 75th Annual Arkansas State Fair and Livestock Show spans October 10-19 at the State Fairgrounds and Barton Coliseum in Little Rock. Over 10 days, experience livestock shows, commercial and educational exhibits, a variety of concerts, a carnival, talent and beauty contests, fair food and a 10-acre midway with rides and games, arts, crafts, clowns, magicians and strolling musicians. website: ArkansasStateFair.com
King Biscuit Blues Festival
Historic downtown Helena becomes the center of the blues universe during the annual King Biscuit Blues Festival October 8th-11th. Celebrating its 29th year in 2014, the festival features three days of live concerts featuring legendary performers from Helena’s Delta blues heyday, leading contemporary blues acts and emerging blues practitioners; a barbecue cook-off; 5-K run; food vendors; arts and crafts market. Website: KingBiscuitFestival.com
Wings Over The Prairie Festival and World Championship Duck Calling Competition
Have a quacky good time in Stuttgart during the 79th annual World’s Championship Duck Calling Contest and Wings Over the Prairie Festival November 28-29. The world-renowned festival features a variety of activities, including the 33rd annual World Championship Duck Gumbo Cook-off, youth duck calling classes, the Great 10K Duck Race, a carnival and midway, arts and crafts, a sporting collectibles show, an off-road village, a variety of exhibits, and the World’s Championship Duck Calling Contests. Website: StuttgartArkansas.com
Arkansas Trail of Holiday Lights, Statewide
Numerous communities across the state light-up for the holidays. In adding to lighting displays, there are open houses, concerts, theatrical productions, parades, lighting of community trees and visits by Santa Claus.