A venture to this state park is on the must-do list for many, the park being the only spot in North America where you can dig for diamonds and other gemstones and keep your finds.
TUESDAY 5/3-SUNDAY 5/8
BENTONVILLE FILM FESTIVAL
Various times. Downtown Bentonville. $10-$750.
Twenty-five years after the film "Thelma and Louise" was released, the uphill battle to tell more women's stories onscreen is still being waged: Studies estimate that the ratio of men to women in G-rated films is somewhere around 3 to 1, and the disproportionate representation of men to women in production roles is even greater. Geena Davis, half of the beloved film's radiant duo, is working to make a serious dent in those trends with her Institute on Gender and Media, an initiative that seeks to "engage, educate, and influence the need to dramatically improve gender balance, reduce stereotyping and create diverse female characters in entertainment targeting children 11 and under." To that end, the foundation launched a large-scale, multi-venue film festival in Northwest Arkansas last year featuring films germane to the mission. The 2015 inaugural festival saturated downtown Bentonville with screenings, discussions, a marathon of live music put together by cinema gurus Joey Lauren Adams and Mitchell Crisp, and even a baseball game featuring Geena Davis and Rosie O'Donnell as captains of opposing teams with rosters populated by their fellow castmates from the film "A League of Their Own," which is to be reprised this year. Bolstered by the success of its 2015 debut, Davis expects this second iteration to double last year's attendance, and with AMC among the festival's nearly 60 corporate sponsors, it's now the only film festival in the world to guarantee theater and retail distribution to its winners. Among the films to catch is "Citizen Soldier," which tells the true story of the Oklahoma National Guard 45th Thunderbirds Brigade on its tour of duty in Afghanistan. The documentary includes real footage shot on helmet cameras, and was created under the advisement of Hendrix alum and former Department of Defense analyst Wendy Anderson, who left her work with the government to join a media group dedicated to telling the stories of men and women in uniform. If you're inclined to catch something a bit lighter, go see Rebecca Miller's star-laden "Maggie's Plan," a romantic comedy about a woman (Greta Gerwig) who has fallen out of love with her husband (Ethan Hawke), and decides to reunite him with his ex-wife (Julianne Moore). See bentonvillefilmfestival.com for a schedule of screenings.
6 p.m. Clinton School of Public Service, Sturgis Hall. Free.
National Journal writer Ron Fournier's Arkansas connections are deep. He got his start at the Hot Springs Sentinel-Record, and after a stint at the Arkansas Democrat, followed a newly elected President Clinton to the Associated Press' Washington bureau. His coverage has earned him the White House Correspondence Association's Smith Award three times and the Society of Professional Journalists' 2000 Sigma Delta Chi Award, but after winning a Harvard Institute of Politics fellowship he turned his attention to writing books. In 2006, he penned "Applebee's America," a study of how politicians can earn votes and loyalty from a public from which they are so often disconnected, with Republican strategist Matthew Dowd and Democratic strategist Douglas Sosnik. Written at the behest of his wife Lori, Fournier's latest work, "Love That Boy: What Two Presidents, Eight Road Trips and My Son Taught Me About a Parent's Expectations," details the ways in which he's struggled with the impossibly grand expectations parents can unwittingly impose on their children, and how he's learned to embrace his role in raising his son, Tyler, a child who was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome at age 12, and whose love of presidential history is so intense that he once bonded with Bill Clinton in a lengthy conversation about the virtues of Theodore Roosevelt. He'll talk about his new book at the Clinton School.
ENCYCLOPEDIA OF ARKANSAS: 10TH ANNIVERSARY
5 p.m. Arkansas Studies Institute, Butler Center Galleries. Free (donations accepted).
Anyone who's ever peeped at the Popeye statue in Alma, dipped her hands in the healing waters of Hot Springs National Park or stood humbled in front of the Little Rock Nine Memorial at the state Capitol can attest to Arkansas's complicated, rich and often bizarre nature. So it's appropriate that we should have our own Wikipedia-style catalog of this state's culture and history. Thanks to the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies at the Central Arkansas Library System, such a reference work exists, and it's a behemoth: 4,300 entries intricately cross-referenced with 5,800 pieces of media, including maps, photos, vintage advertisements, letters and music. This week, the Encyclopedia of Arkansas celebrates 10 years of diligent and collaborative work from some of the passionate folks who have dedicated their careers to preserving this lore. Come raise a glass.
9 p.m. Maxine's. $7.
Hot Springs' Landrest is, at its core, a duo: Rebecca Stone, an innovative visual artist (Landrest's 2010 video for the song "Rescue" is shot with Stone's hands covering part of the lens, improvising a pinhole camera effect) and powerful vocalist whose often-jarring lines climb and cut through a crowd, and David Stone (also of Bryan Frazier's The Alpha Ray), a nimble bass player who peels out effortless, driving riffs above which Rebecca can wander and soar. In recent years, they've expanded their sound with spooky keys by Matt Waller, surf-rock guitar by Jerry Matlock and drums by Justin Hickman to great effect: Their 2014 release, "Mysterious Fires," is full of densely interlocked rhythms and lovely, catchy countermelodies from the voice and bells hovering above. Landrest is joined by Fayetteville's Galaxy Tour Guides, a self-described "high-energy, futuristic party band," and The Manateees, a heavy, rhythm-forward punk trio from Memphis.
8:30 p.m. Stickyz Rock 'n' Roll Chicken Shack. $16 advance, $20 day of.
Most people would name novelist Larry McMurtry's accomplishments by noting his authorship of "Lonesome Dove," or more recently, for his work on the screenplay for Ang Lee's "Brokeback Mountain," but we also have him to thank for having put a guitar in the hands of his son, James McMurtry. McMurtry was only 7 at the time, and to fans of his work, the fact that he was ever 7 years old might stretch the imagination: According to John Mellencamp, "James writes like he's lived a lifetime." McMurtry's 2005 tale of war-weary disenchantment and poverty, "We Can't Make It Here," sharply criticized the George W. Bush administration and is, perhaps, second only to John Prine's "Sam Stone" in its ability to break your heart and inspire you to join an anti-war demonstration in the same moment. That said, it would be difficult to program a more fitting opening act than one by poet Kevin Kerby, whose often acerbic, perpetually honest lyrics ring clearly above his lean guitar chords so that they might more easily make their way into your veins.
SATURDAY 5/7-TUESDAY 5/10
TRAVELERS VS. NATURALS
7:10 p.m., (Sunday only) 2:10 p.m. Dickey-Stephens Park. $7-13.
Despite having been present for an entirely unexpected moment in early April when, with the bases loaded and two outs in the ninth inning of a tied game, Ryon Healy of the Midland Rockhounds secured a victory against the Arkansas Travelers, I wasn't drawn to the ball field on a Saturday night by the promise of wild, 11th-hour sorts of moments. Instead, it's the utterly predictable things that lure me into the diamond and its periphery, the measured, intentional pace of the game, the Hammond organ that accompanies the action in real time, the secure knowledge that a hot battered corn dog and a Pabst tall boy will be deemed "dinner." This week, the Travelers face off against their Texas League in-state rivals, the Northwest Arkansas Naturals, in a string of four games that may or may not include a thrilling play or two. Even if all you find there is the familiar, it'll likely be enough.
SATURDAY 5/7-SUNDAY 5/8
QUAPAW QUARTER SPRING TOUR OF HOMES
Hillcrest Historic District. $20 advance, $30 day of.
Since 1963, the Quapaw Quarter Association has been elevating our collective architectural savvy by opening historic homes to the public. This year, the walking tour takes place in the Hillcrest neighborhood, and includes Pulaski Heights Elementary and Middle schools. Students will be on hand to show you around their schoolhouses; many of them have conducted research on their own homes, nearly 100 of which will be marked with signs posted throughout the neighborhood. If you're inclined to support the efforts of the Quapaw Quarter Association's future endeavors, you can make an evening of it: Saturday's Candlelight Tour includes "special additions of the house at 319 Midland, a champagne stop at the Storthz House at 450 Midland, and the chapel at Pulaski Heights Presbyterian Church, followed by a party in the church's fellowship hall." To reserve a ticket or to volunteer, visit quapaw.com or call 371-0075.