Great news, fellow Arkansans. Fall is coming soon and we’re finally going to be done with the heat. More than cooler temperatures, though, fall in Arkansas means the captivating sight of the leaves in full color. It also means something else: deliciously nostalgic and fun-filled fall festivals. I’ve scoured the state for the most unique and fun-tastic fall festivals in the Natural State, and I’ve got nine recommendations for how you should spend your weekends in the coming months.
1. Beatles at the Ridge (Walnut Ridge)
The small delta town of Walnut Ridge takes the Beatles seriously. They’ve got their amazing Abbey Road sculpture, and each year in September they hold a festival honoring everything Beatles. From the Octopus Garden for the kids to the merchandise to the great tunes you’ll hear, you don’t want to miss this free festival. This year it’s happening on September 16 & 17 in Walnut Ridge.
2. Sherwood Fest (Sherwood)
Sherwood is just a little ways northeast of Little Rock, and this town fall festivals like no one else. That’s because they have a sense of humor about their name. You see, Sherwood Fest takes place in Sherwood Forest. You’ll find cool vendors, an activity zone for the kids, and lots of delicious food. This year’s festival happens on September 24.
3. Ding Dong Days (Dumas)
Ding Dong Days has a funny name, and that’s appropriate because this festival is all about fun. This year Ding Dong Days comes complete with activities ranging from a horseshoe tournament to a barbecue cook-off to, of course, a Ding Dong eating contest. You’ll find all that and more between September 27 through October 1 in Dumas.
4. Frontier Day Festival (Paris)
Set in the town of Paris, near Mount Magazine, the Frontier Festival celebrates days gone by with an absolutely terrific parade and a festival full of your favorite festival activities. This year on October 1 in Paris, you can enjoy the quilts of the quilt contest, check out the awesome pumpkin patch, even participate in the youth and adult duck calling competitions.
5. Turkey Trot (Yellville)
When I first heard the words “Turkey Trot,” I imagined thousands of turkeys being herded through the streets of Yellville. Well, it turns out that’s not what Turkey Trot is about, but it is about drawing attention to the wild turkeys that live near Yellville, and it’s been running for seventy-one years now. You’re going to love the craft vendors and the delicious food at this year’s Turkey Trot, which takes place on October 7th & 8th this year.
6. Homegrown Festival (Siloam Springs)
If you’re into shopping local, you probably love most of these festivals, but this one is the festival most likely to be close to your heart. The focus of Homegrown Festival is on handmade goods, deliriously good food trucks, and hand-picked vintage goodness. Homegrown Festival takes place this year on October 3rd in downtown Siloam Springs.
7. EcoFest (Conway)
Conway’s EcoFest is one of Arkansas’s most unique festivals. At EcoFest, it’s all about teaching the community the facts when it comes to environmental impact and clean living. It isn’t all boring slideshows and keynote speakers, though. This festival pairs education with tons o’ fun. Whether you’re checking out the raptors from the Raptor Rescue or watching the cardboard car races, fun is everywhere at EcoFest.
8. Mule Jump (Pea Ridge)
The Pea Ridge Mule Jump is probably the most unique festival in Arkansas. Happening on October 8th this year, in a field next to Pea Ridge High School, spectators can pay a small fee to see magnificent, noble mules jump over increasingly high obstacles. People bring their prized mules from all over the United States to see this incredible spectacle. In addition to the 40+ mules you’ll see this year, there are also stick horse races, a hog calling contest, and some amazing vendors and music.
9. Original Ozark Folk Festival (Eureka Springs)
If you’re looking for fantastic music and an incredible display of Ozark folk art, you’re going to want to visit Eureka Springs between October 13th and 15th. There you’ll find a folk art fair, a full slate of folk musicians, and numerous competitions for local musicians. It’s an incredible way to celebrate the culture of the Ozarks, and the drive up with the leaves in full color is a breathtaking experience.