Every season in the Natural State sees great festivals, especially active events like the Little Rock Marathon held in early spring, both the Bentonville and Little Rock Film Festivals that take place in May, the always popular International Greek Food Festival which recently took place in the capital city, and most notably the Arkansas State Fair held in Little Rock every October. There are some upcoming arts, crafts, history, and music festivals across Arkansas that locals and visitors should plan to attend! Mark your calendar for these fun summer events, held from the end of May to Labor Day weekend.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. Riverfest: Little Rock, Arkansas's largest festival is held every Memorial Day weekend. Riverfest is a family event of visual and performing arts and hundreds of thousands of annual visitors attend the festivities, which include a grand fireworks display over the Arkansas River at the conclusion of the event.
Little Rock, Arkansas families and visitors from all over the state enjoy live concerts featuring popular bands, games, and a great selection of things to eat served up by Arkansas restaurants and food trucks. The three-day event offers four stages of live performance and a variety of entertainment options.
2. Hot Springs Music Festival: This event, now in its 20th year, provides performance experience and mentorship opportunities to especially talented international pre-professional musicians.
The festival, held from May 31 to June 13 this year, also provides high-quality music performances and performing arts-related activities at reasonable cost to residents of and visitors to Arkansas and the Hot Springs community.
3. Des Arc Steamboat Days: This festival is held from June 4 to June 6 this year in Town Square of Des Arc, Arkansas.
The free event features a carnival, a beauty pageant, a car show, Gospel Night, a duck calling contest, concerts, arts & crafts, food vendors, a dog show, children's activities, a BBQ and chili cook-off, a bass tournament and more.
4. Smackover Oil Town Festival: Held from June 18 to June 20 this year in Smackover, Arkansas, this event is now in its 44th year.
The festival celebrates the town's oil heritage with events including a 5K run, a rib cook-off, a "rod wrenching" contest, an arm wrestling contest, horseshoes, duck race, live entertainment, arts & crafts, and plenty of food and beverages.
5. Malvern Brickfest: Malvern, Arkansas is known as the Brick Capitol of the World and Brickfest is the town's annual festival to celebrate its brickmaking heritage.
Held from June 26 to June 27 this year, this Malvern festival is in its 35th year and features a 5K run, a car show, arts & crafts, a rib cook-off, beauty pageants, and more fun and games.
6. Turkey Track Bluegrass Festival: Taking place from June 17 to June 20 this year, this musical event is held at Turkey Track Bluegrass Park in Waldron, Arkansas.
The four-day event features 16 bluegrass and bluegrass gospel bands.
7. Eureka Springs Blues Weekend: Taking place from June 19 to June 21 this year, the festival's venue is the entire lovely town of Eureka Springs. Musicians will play at different locations throughout town.
Some of the acts shown during the event are free, but the admission will vary on different shows.
8. Surf the Bay Watersports Festival: Held in beautiful Fairfield Bay, Arkansas, this event, known as the state's premier watersports festival, will take place on June 19 and June 20 at the Fairfield Bay Marina this year.
The event features wakesurfing, flyboarding, paddle boards and kayaks as well as live music and great local food.
9. Juneteenth Celebration of Freedom: Presented by the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center of Little Rock, Arkansas, this annual commemoration of the end of slavery is a fun-filled event rooted in history and focused on the future. The event will be held with no admission at the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center on June 20.
With a variety of entertainment throughout the day, this block party style celebration has something for everyone—live music, children’s activities, food trucks, and vendor booths ranging from clothing to food.
10. Mt. Magazine International Butterfly Festival: This event will be held in Paris, Arkansas on June 26 and June 27 this year at the Logan County Fairgrounds.
Enjoy guided nature walks, garden tours, nature crafts, nature related games, butterfly exhibits, live music, and more. The free festival will feature an art show and sale, food, a kids zone, a 5K race, a motorcycle rally, a poker run and a beauty pageant.
11. Rodeo of the Ozarks: Now in its 71st year, this event will be held from July 1 to July 4 this year at Parsons Stadium in Springdale, Arkansas.
See some of the roughest and toughest cowboys and cowgirls from all around in one of the Top 5 Largest Outdoor Rodeos in the U.S. Fourth of July weekend parades on July 1 & 4 feature a patriotic display of cowgirls, floats, bands, and more entertainment.
12. Spa Blast: This celebration at Oaklawn Racing & Gaming Infield in Hot Springs, Arkansas will take place on July 3.
The family-friendly event will conclude with a fireworks show that follows a free concert. Guests may bring lawn chairs and blankets, but no coolers will be allowed.
13. Altus Grape Festival: This popular annual event is now in its 32nd year and will be held on July 24 and July 25 on Main Street in Altus, Arkansas.
A town that prides itself on its grapevines, this festival features grape stomping, wine tasting, arts & crafts booths, music, amateur winemaking competition, and delicious food.
14. Fulton County Fair: Celebrating its 96th year, this event held at the Fulton County Fairgrounds in Salem, Arkansas will take place from July 27 to August 1.
The free-admission fair will feature exhibits, a carnival, beauty pageants, a talent contest, Veterans' Day, Kids' Day, Senior Citizens' Day, a rodeo, live entertainment, truck pulling, and a tough truck competition.
15. Hope Watermelon Festival: An annual must-visit for many Arkansans, this festival is now in its 39th year. The event will be held in Hope, Arkansas from August 6 to August 8 in Fair Park.
Admission is only a $3 parking fee at this festival that celebrates Hope's giant watermelons -- three of which have been world's records over the past 35 years. The event features arts & crafts, live music, watermelon eating, seed spitting, and ice-cold Hope watermelon by the slice.
There are many, many other festivals to enjoy during each season in the Natural State. A few honorable mentions include Picklefest coming up on May 15th in Atkins, Arkansas and the Magnolia Blossom Festival in Magnolia, AR on the same day. There’s also Wakarusa, of course, northern Arkansas’s celebration of music and camping coming to Mulberry Mountain in June. Get out and enjoy all the music, food, and fun Arkansas has to offer!