Thursday, July 3, 2008

Turkey Track Bluegrass Festival: Waldron, Arkansas

Twice a year Bill, Linda and Dusty Lovett put on a bluegrass music festival. It’s held at the Turkey Track Bluegrass Music Park near Waldron, Arkansas. Waldron is located about fifty miles south of Fort Smith, Arkansas on Hwy. 71. It's a wonderful way to spend your Ozarks vacation.

The first festival is held the second weekend in June. In the past they have had Marty Raybon, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, Cherryholmes family, and Mac Wiseman to name a few. The same people you’ll see if you tune into the Grand Ole Opry. In the four days of the festival you’ll see about 42 shows, attend the free hog roast and have a chance at winning a homemade quilt. With tickets priced at $50.00 for all four days, it’s too good of a deal to pass up. If you just want to drop in for the day a pass is $15.00 and you’ll still get to sit in on a dozen shows.

The October festival is the second weekend of the month. IBMA entertainer of the year Rhonda Vincent has traveled to Arkansas to perform at this festival for the last several years. It’s a real treat to hear her sing. Afterwards you can get your picture taken with her and purchase a Rhonda Vincent CD that she will happily autograph for you. All of the bands are available after performances so you can meet your favorites.

If you have an interest in playing a bluegrass mandolin the way Bill Monroe did, bring one along or one of the vendors will sell you one. You can sit in on one of the pre-festival jam sessions. Because the gates open about a month ahead of time there are lots of bluegrass jams to sit in on. There are also folks playing old country music and bluegrass gospel as well. If you don’t play an instrument listeners are welcome.

You’ll need to bring an extra set of lawn chairs to put up by the stage. It’s a good idea to have a piece of 2”x4” wood to put under the front legs of your chair as it could be sitting on an incline. I’d suggest a hat and some sunscreen as well. They run a free shuttle service continually during the festival to carry you from your campsite to the stage.

There are plenty of vendors selling cold water, kettle corn, roasted peanuts, blackberry cobbler and ice cream and maybe even some catfish along with the normal fare of hamburgers, French fries and Frito pies. It has been known to rain and while an umbrella is too large when unfurled a pullover poncho can work wonders.

You can chose RV camping or tent camping. The rates are reasonable for both. RV camping is $8.00 per night and tent camping is $4.00 per night. They have hot showers in all three bathrooms (Don’t forget your shower shoes) and three dump stations for the campers. There is electricity and water available at the campsites. They have standard restrictions. All pets must be on a leash, no bicycles, no alcohol or drugs. Golf carts are welcome. It’s a good idea to bring your own drinking water.

If camping isn’t your thing there are motels located in nearby Waldron. You’ll need to book a room at least three months in advance according to motel staff.

Waldron Arkansas Motels

Coachman’s Inn 479-637-4157
Southern Nights 479-637-4851
Cypress Lodge 479-637-3451

Y-City Mountain Inn stated that they sometimes had room availability during the festival. They are located 10 miles south of Waldron. Their phone number is 479-577-2489.

Directions to Turkey Track Bluegrass Park can’t be successfully obtained on Mapquest so I’m including them here. From Business Hwy 71 (enter on the south end of town) turn east onto Hwy 250 and the park is about 8 miles on the left.

Have a wonderful trip!

Turkey Track Bluegrass Park, Schedule, Tickets, Rates, Driving Directions
Y-City Mountain Inn
Weather Forecast for Waldron, Arkansas

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Floating the Buffalo National River

The Buffalo River has something to offer for everyone, no matter what your level of experience. The 150 mile stretch of river begins in the Boston Mountains and offers Class I and II rapids in the 25 mile stretch between Ponca and Arkansas Hwy 7.

While it's best to float the upper portions of the river during spring and early summer the lower portion can be floated virtually year round. I'd suggest a canoe trip on the Buffalo River during the fall, when the leaves are changing. It's gorgeous.

If you're a laid back kind of person, the 27 mile float from Hwy 65 to Buffalo Point is a great way to spend the day. Just make sure to bring plenty of sunscreen and ziploc bags. If you don't accidentally tip your canoe it's almost certain someone in your group will help you out.

The 7 mile canoe trip from Buffalo Point to Rush is perfect if you're taking your kids or it's your first float trip. It's short, there's lots to look at and a good swimming hole or two along the way.

It's best to have lots of sunscreen, a thin long sleeved shirt and hat, and a towel. The oversized zip top bags with handles are perfect. They'll keep things dry and they'll float if they happen to get into the water. Take a cooler with plenty of drinking water and food and don't forget a bag for your trash. Try using a water friendly disposable camera or double bagging your regular model when you aren't using it.

Make certain to check the river conditions and observe proper safety precautions when floating if you aren't using a canoe rental service. If you are using a service they are usually up to date on the Buffalo National River conditions and will advise you of the proper safety precautions.

Have a great trip!

Recommended river levels for canoeing
River Maps, Mileage, River levels, Shuttles
Buffalo River Floater's Guide
National Park Campsites
Map of River and Campgrounds
Current Buffalo River Level Report
Buffalo National River Conditions
Rules and Regulations on the Buffalo National River

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Devil's Den State Park 4th of July: West Fork, Arkansas

Looking for a fun way to spend you're Fourth of July? Why not take a trip to Devil's Den State Park? They'll be hosting their 33rd Annual Devil's Den Games.

They will celebrate by having a softball and horseshoe tournament as well as many other games and best of all, they'll top off the event with an ice cream social. Admission is free.

For more information you can contact them at 479-761-3325 or email them at

The park everything from primitive camping to rustic CCC cabins available. There are several hiking trails. A free map that can be transferred to your GPS is on the web for the 14 mile long Butterfield Trail Loop if you're feeling adventurous. A park cafe and a swimming pool are open during summer months. You can also rent canoes, tandem kayaks, pedal boats and water bikes to cruise the lovely eight acre lake there.

Have a great trip!

Rodeo of the Ozarks: Springdale, Arkansas

The Rodeo of the Ozarks is not just a one night event. It starts with a Dinner and Dance on June 28th and ends with a PBR bull riding event on July 5th. Attendees come from all over the country. Some of them even travel the old fashioned way. By wagon train. Every year on June 25th wagons, buggies and horseback riders meet at the Boone County Fairgrounds in Harrison Arkansas and begin the 100 mile trek to the rodeo traveling at the speed of four miles per hour.

The John Shaddox wagon train members are hosted overnight by various families along their route and arrive in time for the July 1st parade (beginning at 3:00 p.m.) that officially kicks off the rodeo. A second parade is held on July 4th at 10:00 a.m. While there is no pre-registration required be sure to read all rules and regulations before participating.

I think the best place to view the parade is at the corner of 265 and Emma Avenue on the lawn of the Jones Center for Families. Bring a blanket or a folding chair and some sunscreen as this parade can last for more than an hour.

The Rodeo features Mutton Bustin' for children aged 4-6 years old and under 55 pounds. The youngsters ride sheep and are graded much in the same way cowboys are. Kids are required to wear a long sleeved shirt, jeans and appropriate footwear. Protective helmets are provided. Top riders move on to the next round ending with a finale on July 4th. Entries are limited to 25 per night and will be accepted beginning May 1st.

You can purchase tickets online and I highly recommend Buckle Club seating if it's in your budget. They also sell Buckle Club memberships packages that are not available online. These include tickets for all four nights of the rodeo, a meal, and free parking passes in the stadium each night. Please keep in mind that all ticket sales are final.

The will be unable to host their normal fireworks display this year but will have a line up of nationally known singers performing a concert after each nights rodeo. Keep an eye on their website for the celebrities names.

The Shiloh Museum will be hosting an Old West Film Festival as well.

June 28 Rodeo Dinner & Dance, Rodeo Community Center, 6:30 – 11:00 p.m.

July 1 Rodeo Parade – Parade begins at the rodeo grounds and proceeds west to downtown Springdale. 3:00 p.m.

July 1-4 64th Annual Rodeo of the Ozarks – gates open at 6:00 p.m. nightly. Mutton Bustin’ begins at 6:30 p.m. Miss Rodeo of the Ozarks 2007 will be crowned on July 4.

July 4 Rodeo Parade - Parade begins at the rodeo grounds and proceeds west to downtown Springdale. 10:00 a.m.

July 5 Buckin’ In The Ozarks PBR Bull Riding, 7:30 p.m.

A few things to keep in mind:

  • No pets are allowed. Only service dogs for the disabled are allowed inside the arena.

  • No outside food or beverages are allowed.

  • No strollers are allowed due to space limitations.

  • Still photography cameras are allowed but no device that is capable of recording video is allowed inside including cell phones.

  • Smoking is not allowed in the seating area.

  • Parking on the grounds is $3.00 There is parking along Hwy 265 and at the Jones Center for Families. Shuttle buses will run in these areas.

Remember that the gates open at 6:00 p.m. and the Grand Entry starts at 7:30. Their events are sanctioned by the PRCA and WPRA so expect to see some great riding going on.

Have a great trip!

Schedule of events

Rules and regulations for participating in Rodeo of the Ozarks parade

The John Shaddox Wagon Train

Mutton Bustin' entries

Old West Film Festival

Parking, security, pets and strollers

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Rte 66 Giant Rocker:Cuba Missouri

Cuba, MO On April 1, 4 miles west of Cuba, MO on Route 66, a rocking chair 42’4’’ feet tall was set in place beside the adjoining Fanning US 66 Outpost & General Store. The rocking chair is the brainchild of Outpost owner Dan Sanazaro, a guy with a “can do” attitude.

Sanazaro thought that the fledgling business that he and his wife Carolyn opened in February needed something to draw travelers to its unique combination of taxidermy, lodge style d├ęcor, sporting goods, and convenience items.

What better way to garner attention than a 46’ wood and steel rocking chair in the traditional Route 66 colors of black and white. Sanazaro thought it would be like one of the old Route 66 roadside attractions that drew travelers to businesses in the past.

To make his dream a reality, Sanazaro turned to local artist, soon-to-be engineer John Bland. Bland, who isn’t afraid of a challenge, drew a sketch of the chair and then drew the blue prints to scale. He took his plans to a civil engineer, who ran the plans through computer software to test the engineering specifications. Although Bland had no formal training as an engineer, his plans were off only by a fraction of an inch. With adjustments made, Sanazaro and Bland were ready to bring a builder on board.

For this step of the process, Sanazaro turned to long-time friend Joe Medwick, who had the equipment and know-how to make the rocking chair a reality. With 25 years of experience in welding, Medwick of 5M Welding and Excavation, knew that he could build the chair.

First, Medwick fabricated the rockers, which are 31 ½ feet long and weigh about 2000 pounds each. He moved the rockers to the Outpost and constructed the rest of the rocking chair there using eight and eleven inch steel pipe. Medwick measured, cut, and welded the frame on site with the frame lying on the ground. Artist Bland painted the Outpost logo, “Route 66 Rocker,” and “World’s Largest” on a wooden panel that serves as the rocker back. Painting mitts were used to prime the frame white, and a coat of black paint followed.

On April 1st, two cranes were summoned to lift the frame onto the rockers. With the crowd watching in fascination, the large frame moved through the air to the steel rockers. After some final adjustments and cutting, and with sparks flying, Medwick made the final welds.

The Route 66 Rocker now looms above the road to attract another generation of Route 66 travelers to wonder at what American ingenuity can do when three men with a dream come together.

The Outpost’s website is
. Although the site is still under construction, Dan and Carolyn can be emailed through the site. The phone number is 573-885-1474.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Car Show & Swap Meet: Gateway, Arkansas

Gateway is holding a car show and swap meet the last weekend of April. It's their fourth year in a row. The swap meet is held Friday and Saturday. The car show is Saturday only. They'll have an antique tractor display, a DJ, food, games, and door prizes.

The event will be held rain or shine. No alcohol, loud radios or burn-outs are allowed. The event is held at the Gateway City Park on the south side of Highway 62.

If you're interested in attending or registering and need more information contact Buzz @ 479-656-3929/479-366-7372 or Lida @ 479-633-5029/479-656-3934

It's a great way to spend some time with your family.

Have a great trip!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Where Sweet Hit the Streets on Route 66: Cuba, Missouri

A site on Route 66 was a natural when chocolatier Marcia Wilson looked for a storefront for her on-line candy business that had outgrown her kitchen. Back in the 70s, Wilson’s folks ran a liquor store in a building that was for sale in Cuba on Route 66 next to the post office. Besides the nostalgic desire to have the building where her parents’ had their store, Route 66 travelers would have easy access to her store, and it would be easy to ship orders at the post office. It was a sweet location.

In fact, Wilson has put out the word on Route 66 newsgroup sites that she is collecting Route 66 maps and brochures to decorate her storefront
Wilson credits her mother and grandmother for the recipes for her homemade fudge that started her business. After her sales on eBay established her business, she expanded her line of flavors and kinds of candies. Her over 500 chocolate molds allow her to customize her chocolates to special occasions and needs.
Wilson opened her Route 66 Fudge Shop at 705 W. Washington (Rt. 66) right before Christmas and had customers waiting in line to buy her fudge, gift baskets, and other specialized chocolates. In the week before Valentine’s, she made candy until the wee hours of the morning. Individual and corporate orders demand chocolates.

“I love the challenge of making perfect, decadent candy that tastes great and looks beautiful too. I feel this allows me to use my talents because it is creative, challenging, and quite rewarding. I am always looking for a new candy challenge,” Wilson remarked.

Wilson achieved one of her business goals by introducing a signature line of Route 66 candy bars in March. The Route 66 candy bars are available in 12 flavors and can be purchased individually or in a gift box of 12. Each Route 66 candy bar bears a slogan such as “Turnpike Toffee” or “Main Street Mint” to express the flavor of the road as well as the flavor of the candy bars. There’s also a Route 66 Down The Lane diet bar.

One of the bars is caramel chocolate and bears the graphics of the Viva Cuba Mural Project, which commissioned the 12 outdoor murals in Cuba, a town that boasts the title “Route 66 Mural City.” The mural project receives part of the proceeds from this bar to fund ongoing mural maintenance.

“I can’t wait to see the reaction to the candy bars from Route 66 travelers. The history of Route 66 is so important to our town, and we get a lot of travelers who stop to see the murals,” Wilson said.

Now these travelers will have one more reason to stop in Cuba “where the sweets hit the streets along Route 66.”

To see pricing and all the flavors of the new Rt. 66 Candy Bars visit
Other information about Cuba, Missouri

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

112 Drive In:Fayetteville, Arkansas

Lots of us remember going to the drive-in as kids. You could take a blanket and watch the movie under the stars while munching on popcorn. Children didn't have to be still or particularly quiet and when they got sleepy you could tuck them into the back seat while you watched the show.

At the height of it's popularity there were about 50 in Arkansas. Now their are only three and luckily Fayetteville has one of them. The 112 Drive-In is located off the 112 Exit on Interstate 540 on the west side of the highway.

They are open every spring in March and run through November. They show a double feature on the weekends. The price is $10 dollars per carload. This covers the cost of both shows. There is a well stocked concession stand and bathrooms are available. You listen to the movie by tuning in to 92.7 on your car radio or you can bring a battery operated radio if you plan on sitting outside.

They do have a parking policy that they enforce. Cars are parked in the front and taller vehicles such as trucks and SUV's are placed toward the back. No one is allowed to sit on top of vehicles. Hatches must be tied down to roof height. Blankets and chairs must be kept within one parking space or you have the option of paying for a second space if you'd like to spread out. If anyone is causing a disturbance security personnel will ask them to leave.

To find out what's playing you can call 479-442-4542 any time, day or night. If you have questions wait until the recording is finished and you have the option of leaving a message. The show starts at dark.

Take time out to go to one of our drive-ins while visiting the Ozarks.

Have a great trip!

112 Drive-In
Kenda Drive-In: Marshall
Stone Drive-In: Mtn. View 1-870-269-3227

Find out about movies at

Friday, February 1, 2008

The Great Backyard Bird Count

Every year a national bird count is sponsered by the National Audobon Society. You and your family can take part no matter where you live in North America. This year it takes place from February 16-19.

To participate, pick a location the time you'd like to watch for birds. Then make a list and keep track of how many birds you see of each species during that time. You can download a checklist that is specific to your area at the Audobon Society website. Just put in your zip code and it will pull up a list. There are links to photos and information about each type of bird if you're not certain what a particular species looks like. The option of adding rare birds is also available.

There is no need to count birds for all four days. You can take a couple of hours during a morning or afternoon and go to the park, a national forest or your own back yard to do the count.

After you have your results log on to the website and submit your results. You may also submit photos and videos. Prizes ranging from binoculars to guidebooks are awarded in the photo contest.

The information that you provide will help scientists and conservationists to determine changes in bird populations and their distribution.

Which birds do people find the most? The North American Cardinal is #1 on the list with American Robins coming in second.

If you're in the Ozarks be sure and keep an eye out for our National Bird, the bald eagle. They have been removed from the endangered list and are now so abundant that you can see them as you drive along the road or cruise the local lakes. I saw four within 10 minutes myself.

Whether it's during the Great Backyard Bird Count time frame or not. Birdwatching is a great way to spend family time and it's inexpensive as well. Watch for our Ozarks birds when you're in the area.

Have a great trip!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

A Winter Getaway at Big Cedar Lodge:Missouri

Big Cedar Lodge is a Wilderness resort near Branson, Missouri that is owned by Bass Pro Shops. While it's a fabulous resort with golfing, a spa, a marina, horseback riding and a ton of fair weather family activities, don't overlook it for a winter get away.

Their spa services are just as relaxing in the winter and the room rates are much better. Though it's not listed on their website you can normally get a one room cabin for as little as $125.00 per night and unlike other times of the year you can rent it for only one night.

You can get a cabin with a fireplace, jacuzzi bath, full kitchen and it has a balcony with a grill on it. It's a perfect place to spend Valentine's Day, an anniversary or just have a romantic getaway. Make sure to book a massage and throw some steaks and a bottle of wine in the cooler. And don't forget to . . .

Have a great trip!