Folkways Become Fun at the Ozark Folk Center
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May 23, 2000Folkways Become Fun at
the Ozark Folk Center
By Craig Ogilvie, travel writer
Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism
MOUNTAIN VIEW -- Visitors to the Ozark Folk Center State Park are invited to step back in time and enjoy the toe-tapping music of a bygone era, taste the delicacies from long ago kitchens, talk with master craftsmen as they work, and join the children in games that were popular when Arkansas was a brand-new state.
Since its opening in 1973, the Center has constantly upgraded its programs and events to better serve the public, according to a spokesman. This year, a friendly crafter is stationed at the visitor center to help welcome everyone to the area. After entering the park, visitors may notice several changes in the craft village and restaurant:
* "Songs and Such," next to the blacksmith shop, now houses musical and storytelling sessions slated throughout each day. The famous "noon show" is also staged in the building, except when an overflow crowd requires a move to the larger outdoor stage.
* The new "Wood Shop" features several craftsmen alternating duties this season. Also, the art of painting on wood will be demonstrated for the first time in the park. A remodeled picnic pavilion in the crafts forum features a new char-broil grill, ready for group cookouts and special events. Steaks, ribs, chicken, burgers and hot-dogs may be served up with all the trimmings by contacting the center's group sales division.
* The park's country restaurant is now offering, upon request, family-style service for groups with prior reservations. Buffet and sit-down services also remain as popular options. New menu offerings have been added including several with fresh herbal seasonings.
* The "Design Your Own Workshop" series is also back, offering some 20 cabin skills in a one-to-one teaching program. Sessions can be designed around the visitor's schedule to allow individualized study with a Folk Center master craftsman. Two-weeks prior notice is required to assure placement.
* Four learning programs have been selected especially for group tour workshops. For the first time, persons visiting the Center with a group can participate in brief workshops on woodworking, herb gardening, basketmaking or corn-shuck doll crafting. Maximum class sizes may range from six to 15, and each student takes home the item made during the session.
Returning visitors will note several improvements throughout the Center, thanks to Arkansas's conservation tax (Amendment 75). Theater-type seating in the park's large music auditorium, new shuttle buses, refurbished/expanded day-use pavilion, carpeting, plus new air conditioning and maintenance projects were all made possible by the voters' desire to improve all 51 state parks.
The Center's craft village includes the pottery shop, tin type photography, picnic swing, print shop, weaving, quilting, gunsmith, wood shop, broom maker, doll shop, art gallery, candle shop and several others. Center employees will continue the popular Living History program with features on singing schools, blacksmithing, chair-making, storytelling and printing. Enactors assume the roles of pioneers who helped preserve the folk songs and crafts visitors enjoy today.
Live musical concerts are staged at 7:30 p.m. nightly (except some Sunday nights) throughout the season. During October, musicals are presented nightly as part of Harvest Festival. Only traditional folk musical instruments are featured, and many of the guitars, fiddles, dulcimers and banjos played on stage were handcrafted in the area. Jig, square and clog dances are performed with members of the audience often invited to participate.
The park continues the special "tributes" to country music legends who have contributed to, or were influenced by traditional music. Tributes to Merle Travis (May 19-20), Lonnie Glosson (May 26-27), Patsy Montana (June 16-17), Elton Britt (July 28-29), Jimmie Rodgers (Aug. 25-26), Grandpa Jones (Sept. 1-2), and Jimmy Driftwood (Oct. 21) are among the most popular musical events of the season.
Musical workshops provide persons with a special interest in folk instruments to learn from the masters during the summer season. Autoharp (intermediate) workshops will be June 5-8, with advanced autoharp sessions following June 12-15. Mountain dulcimer classes will be held June 19-22, and beginning autoharp will be taught July 3-6. All levels of autoharp playing will be part of the 21st annual Autoharp Jamboree on July 20-22. Guest performers will be in concert nightly. The hammered dulcimer workshop will be held Aug. 7-10 and the 21st annual Folk Dance Festival will conclude the formal workshops on Sept. 8-9.
The Folk Center is also home of the state's largest array of traditional herbs. With plants surrounding the historic Shannon Cabin and root cellar, the Heritage Herb Garden has become one of the most popular stops in the craft village.
Herbal events slated later this season include Organic Gardening Workshops, June 16, July 28, and Sept. 1. Organic Container Gardening sessions will be held June 9 and Aug. 4. Garden Glory Days will be held May 26-June 3, with tours, teas, and workshops for interested persons in the park. Herbs and Everlastings workshops are set for July 7 and Aug. 18.
Family Ozark Herbal Odyssey is a new event set for July 17-21, with herb expert Susan Belsinger and her children serving as guides in workshops on growing, cooking and other herbal celebrations for the entire family. "Christmas in July" Herbal Workshop and Luncheon will follow on July 25.
Fall herbal events include the Sumptuous Herbal Feast on Oct. 5; the Herb Harvest Fall Festival on Oct. 6-7; Creating a New Herbal Garden on Oct. 25; Herbal Elves Holiday Workshop on Nov. 11 and the Progressive Workshop on Nov. 16-18.
For serious students of mountain folk music and lore, the park also boasts the Ozark Cultural Resource Center, open weekdays adjacent to the craft grounds. Offering one of the nation's largest collections of folk history and music, the Center is directed by Dr. Bill McNeil. The latest acquisition by the Center is the massive collection of Stan French of Broken Bow, OK. The collection is devoted to traditional country, folk and jazz music. It consists of over 17,000 recordings, books and related materials, with most awaiting the task of cataloging before being placed for public use. Other park facilities include a 60-room lodge, conference center, visitor center and general store.
After the daily schedule ends on Nov. 2, the Folk Center will continue with special weekend events that include the popular Thanksgiving in the Ozarks, Nov. 23-25; and the annual Ozark Christmas (open house) on Dec. 1-3. The park's gift shop will remain open until Dec. 23.
For more information about workshops, food services, concerts and ticket reservations, call (870) 269-3851; for lodging and package plans, call 1-800-264-3655; or visit the park's website at: www.ozarkfolkcenter.com. Persons wishing to write for information may address the park at Ozark Folk Center, P.O. Box 500, Mountain View, AR 72560.####
Submitted by the Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism
One Capitol Mall, Little Rock, AR 72201, (501) 682-7606
May be used without permission. Credit line is appreciated:
"Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism"