Katherine Stewart, travel writer
Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism
Four popular family events are celebrating milestone anniversaries this September, which means you’ve got a month of cooling temperatures and great outdoor fun to look forward to.
On September 16, relative newcomer Legends of Arkansas will celebrate its 5th anniversary with a day full of music and activities held at North Shore River Walk Park in North Little Rock. This all-local, all-the-time family fest features Arkansas bands, food and craft vendors, plus lots of kid fun like face painting, circus arts, and plenty of dancing. Each year, the Mallory Award is given to an outstanding young artist or musician. The fest takes place from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m., and the $5 admission fee goes to support The Van, a local homeless assistance organization.
September 20 through 23, the Fall Petit Jean Antique Auto Show and Swap Meet returns for its 20th year—the original summer meet, which just celebrated its 59th year, was just too popular to happen only once a year!—to the Museum of Automobiles atop Petit Jean Mountain with 600 swap spaces full of antique autos and memorabilia. The fall swap meet features a special military vehicle rally as well. The show and swap meet takes place daily from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and the 5th annual vehicle “show and shine” will take place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, September 23. The show and swap meet are free; the car wash is $25 for the first vehicle and $15 for additional vehicles.
Searcy’s popular Get Down Downtown festival turns 10 this year, and double digits means double the fun on Courthouse Square! The two-day event kicks off at 6 p.m. on Friday, September 29 and goes all day on Saturday the 30th, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. The focus on Friday is local music, with Jason Coleman and Brent Blakely opening up the stage, followed by Dane Joneshill, and The Coasts headlining. Music will continue throughout the day on Saturday, but kids should head to the Unity Health Kid Zone for inflatables, carnival games, pony rides, face painting and more. More than 100 vendors selling local art, carnival fare, clothing, pottery and goods from local businesses will line the streets; evening brings featured musicians Charlotte Taylor and Gypsy Rain to the First Security Stage to open for Nashville classic Little Texas. The best thing about this family-favorite festival? Free admission all weekend! (Note to vendors: Applications will be taken through September 20th, so if you’d like to reserve booth space, please call 501-279-9007. FYI, food vendor spaces are full!)
Saturday is an especially big day for the city of Bryant, which is celebrating not only its 30th Annual Fall Fest but its 125th birthday as well! The event takes place from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.—which means you can enjoy the whole shebang and still make it to Searcy in time for games, street food and music, if you’re not too worn out. Bryant’s Fall Fest features a kids’ fishing derby, a senior pancake breakfast, train rides, duct-tape boat races, a 5k, bingo, a parade, live music, kids’ activities, and, new this year, the Buzzin’ BBQ Bash! For more information and registration forms for special events, please visit the Bryant Chamber.