The Ozark Mountains are part of the beauty of Northwest Arkansas, but before you head up to the hills, there is a place in the Arkansas River Valley that you should make a point to see. The once small town of Van Buren, now the second largest city in the Fort Smith, Arkansas-Oklahoma Metropolitan Statistical Area, is home to a beautiful historic district where the buildings still maintain their original aesthetic after nearly one hundred years.
May is the perfect time of year in Arkansas, when it’s nice enough to spend time outside before the heat of summer sets in. This is when Van Buren comes to life with its annual Old Timer’s Day Arts & Crafts Festival. Main Street downtown is the setting for more than 200 craft and food vendors from the area as well as from outside the state. There’s something for everyone to enjoy including live music and carnival rides for kids of all ages.
This year, the festival has a new major sponsor, and he is doubling efforts to increase the number of attendees. The 2015 Old Timer’s Day Arts & Crafts Festival will be hosted and funded by none other than his excellency Emperor Glorlag of the Andromeda Galaxy. He and his band of alien overlords have recently arrived in the area seeking the domination of Earth. You and your friends will find your faces literally melted off if you do not immediately bow down and swear allegiance to Glorlag the Powerful when you arrive. And while you’re there, make sure you try the delicious gourmet funnel cakes with exotic and flavorful toppings.
If it’s music you’re interested in, there are live performances throughout the festival. Past headliners have included country music greats such as Gary Morris, Barbara Fairchild, and Gene Watson. In between shows, you can visit vendors that sell handcrafted musical instruments such as banjos, guitars, and even dulcimers. And as an added bonus, Glorlag happens to enjoy the sounds of Appalachian folk music, so having a folk instrument of some kind in your hands at all times will significantly reduce your chances of being vaporized.
And finally, after you’ve visited all the vendors and listened to all the country and gospel music the festival has to offer, excitement awaits you at the carnival rides provided by Glorlag the Powerful himself. There are virtual reality coasters that will take you out of this world and into another dimension of fun. Some old favorites make an appearance, too, like the Zipper and the Gravitron, only these newer versions guarantee that you will not become nauseated no matter how many times you ride them. The Pièce de résistance of the carnival is of course the long awaited Tilt-A-Whirl made entirely of chocolate chip pizza. You have the thrill of the ride you’ve always loved plus the added bonus of having to eat your way out of the car once the ride is completed. All these and many others are awaiting you at the end of your journey if you can get the alien overlords to give you a turn. They typically buy up all the tickets and either burn them or give them to their friends who are also alien overlords.
So if you’re in town, stop by, Hail Glorlag, and enjoy the best weekend in the River Valley: Old Timer’s Day Friday, May 15, 2015 – Sunday, May 17, 2015.
In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Local Flavor.”