By Jamie Hammack
As spring ramps up and summer is soon to begin, festivals will soon fill parks and town squares around the country. It’s a tradition in almost every small town in America that brings communities together giving purpose and pride while showcasing an area’s unique identity. The names of these festivals are varied and can be quite unique. Hope, Arkansas has the world famous Watermelon Festival, while Gardendale, Alabama has a Magnolia Festival. And there are those unique ones I mentioned. Morgan City, Louisiana has the oddly named Shrimp and Petroleum Festival (10w30 shrimp dip anyone?) and Marshall, Texas has a festival celebrating, of all things, Fire Ants! Here in Mena we have the long-standing and popular Lum and Abner Festival. On June 7th and 8th the festival will roll into its 42nd year and the festival looks to become bigger and better with a new layout and a focus on getting back to its art and musical roots. Ashley Smith, Marketing Director of the Mena Advertising and Promotion Commission, told The Pulse that the new layout “Will enhance the overall atmosphere of the event providing better pedestrian traffic flow and utilizing more of the park.” The center circle of Janssen Park have a different look as the stage will move to the proposed site of a new permanent stage in the park which would serve the community for various functions and events. Most of the musical artist at the festival will reflect a move towards its roots with Folk, Americana and Bluegrass music as the centerpiece. National Park Radio will return to take the stage on Friday night and the very popular Arkansauce is scheduled for Saturday night. If you haven’t heard of Arkansauce do a search on YouTube and you’ll hear a four piece band of pure musicians playing a brand of music that is infused with Bluegrass, Folk, Americana and Country and Newgrass. I suggest their song, “Paralyzed”, as a first choice.
Festival favorites such as the 3 on 3 basketball tourney, kids fishing derby, foods, 5K run/walk and of course the arts & crafts make a return along with the ever popular Lum and Abner Car show. Added this year, the festival is inviting local non-profit organizations to be a part of the event. A new vendor category was added called, Event Vendors. This will be a way for local non-profits to have outreach during the festival.
Positive changes are coming to the showpiece of our area. The Lum and Abner Festival is our time to shine as a city and region. Let’s all come out and support the festival, it’s vendors AND musicians that play nightly.
The Lum and Abner Festival will take place June 7th and 8th in Janssen Park