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.
The Greek Food Festival, one of the tastiest festivals of the year, happens every third weekend in May at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church on Napa Valley Drive. Hundreds, if not thousands, of people will be on hand for the three days, enjoying Greek specialties and watching international style entertainment. It’s not only Greek, but a true melting pot of Eurasian cultures, with dancing, music, attire and food.
Admission is free, as is parking along Napa Valley (catch a ride on the trolley from the nearby churches instead of waiting in traffic near Annunciation). Food is available for purchase. Hours are 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday.
Annunciation is at 1100 Napa Valley Drive. For more information, visit www.greekfoodfest.com.
Kirk Franklin, the biggest selling gospel music artist of recent years and renowned for his dynamic and energetic shows, will appear in concert Saturday, May 20, at Riverfest Amphitheatre. Franklin is touring in support of his latest CD, “Hero,” with Men of Standard and hip-hop artist Da’ T.R.U.T.H. Gates open at 7 p.m., and tickets are $22.50 and $36.50 through all Ticketmaster outlets (Harvest Foods stores), by calling 975-7575 or online at www.ticketmaster.com.
Weekend has ‘Passion’
“Passion,” the Stephen Sondheim musical, examines the fine line between devoted love and obsession. The Weekend Theater debuts the play Friday, May 19, at its theater at Seventh and Chester streets.
Showtimes are 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday, and the play continues with that schedule for the next two weekends. Admission is $18 for adults and $14 for students and seniors over 65.
Andy Hall will direct a cast that includes some of the theater’s favorite performers over the past several seasons, including Kathryn Pryor, John Haman, John Thompson, Duane Jackson, Alan Douglas, Drew Ellis, Jason Willey, Byron Taylor, Samantha Porter and Sarah Bragg (who starred in the recent production “Undraped”).
Sondheim wrote the music and lyrics, with book by James Lapine, based on Igino Tarchetti’s novel “Fosca.” The story is set in 1863 and centers around an Italian army officer who continues a torrid affair with a married woman through the mail, while befriending the sickly sister of his commanding colonel, creating an unusual triangle.
For reservations, call 374-3761. The show is intended for mature audiences.
Art-related benefits for Wind Symphony, Rep
Help the Little Rock Wind Symphony while enjoying top local art at “An Artful Affair: Bohemian Rhapsody” on Thursday, May 18, from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at 301 Main St. in North Little Rock.
Wind Symphony members will provide live music, and food and drink will be available. Featured artists include Patrick Cunningham, Doug Norton, Tanya Hollifield, Katherine Srause, Matt McLeod, Kevin Kresse, George Dombek, Todd Crockett, Larry Pennington, John Deering, V.L. Cox, Nancy Conley, Cherylon Reid, Carole Katchen and Jeff Horton.
Tickets are $100 per person. Call 219-2511.
The Arkansas Repertory Theatre will hold its annual Artworks on Friday, May 19, beginning at 6:30 p.m. Artworks XIX will showcase creations from 100 Arkansas artists in live and silent auctions to benefit The Rep. Oil, pastel and watercolor paintings, pottery, glass items, mixed media pieces and crafts will be auctioned. A full bar and buffet dinner are included in the $30 ticket price. Call 378-0445.
Heber’s chamber festival
Arkansas native Bob Dorough, the famed jazz pianist who lives in New York and wrote and performed songs for television’s “Schoolhouse Rock,” will headline the eighth annual Heber Springs Chamber Music Festival on Saturday, May 20, at the Gem Theater.
Dorough, a 1998 inductee into the Arkansas Jazz Hall of Fame, will be joined by flutist Aralee Dorough and oboist Colin Gatwood. Both are with the Houston Symphony. The show begins at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20 for adults ($18 for society members) and $16 for seniors.
The festival includes a Friday reading at the Jitterbug Cafe (7:30 p.m., free) by Andrea Budy, a writer in residence at Lyon College, and concerts Friday and Saturday at the Gem by festival students. Friday’s concert is at 8 p.m. and Saturday’s performance is at 3 p.m. Tickets for either show are $12 for adults ($11 for members) and $10 for seniors.
The Kapelle Piano Quartet, featuring the famed Kapelle Trio with violinist Vesselin Tordorov, will perform at 3 p.m. Sunday, May 21 at the Gem. The fellows/faculty concert follows on Tuesday, May 23, at 8 p.m. Admission is $12 for adults ($11 members) and $10 for seniors.
For more information, call 501-250-5367 or 501-362-3476.
Brinkley salutes Jordan
Brinkley’s Choo Choo Ch’Boogie Delta Music Festival, named for a song by native son Louis Jordan, will be held Saturday, May 20, with some of the biggest names in Mid-South music. The festival is free at the Central Delta Depot Museum. It starts at 9 a.m. and continues late into the evening.
Memphis rock-songwriter and concert favorite Keith Sykes will perform, along with Monroe County’s Willie Cobbs and Memphis legends The Hi Rhythm Section with Percy Wiggins. Rockabilly legend Sonny Burgess and the Pacers are also on the bill, along with folk and blues star Sid Selvidge, alternative rock band Ho-Hum, Arkansas tribute band The Bug Tussel Boys and more. Carla Robinson and Dave Riley will lead a tribute to late Delta bluesman John Weston.
Music writers Stephen Koch and Greg Brownderville will lead a music seminar at 9 a.m., discussing some of the music greats from the Arkansas Delta. Brownderville wrote the Porter Prize-nominated “Deep Down in the Delta.”
Live gospel music will be featured in the Gospel Brunch starting at 9:45. Funds raised through the sale of T-shirts, food and drink go to the museum. Concessions will include hamburgers, hot dogs, sausage, beans and cornbread, and fish dinners with all the fixings.
Central Delta Depot Museum is in downtown Brinkley on Cypress Street by the railroad tracks. Call 870-589-2124.
Ninth Street fun
Music, artists and more will be on Ninth Street when the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center and Arkansas Flag and Banner hold the 9th Street Block Party on Saturday, May 20, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Admission is free. The street will be blocked off at West Ninth and State streets, and music acts will cover jazz, blues, gospel and hip-hop. Local and regional artists will have their work on display, food vendors will have refreshments for sale, children will find an assortment of activities, and community service booths will be set up. Bring lawn chairs and blankets.
As part of a community oral history project, a Memory Booth will be set up in the Arkansas Flag and Banner building. People with memories of Ninth Street and the old neighborhood are invited to tell their stories and share old photographs while being videotaped by a crew from Dempsey Film Group. The interviews will be recorded and made available for future research in both the Cultural Center and AFB’s archives.
Groundbreaking at Central
A groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled to kick off the planned construction of Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site’s new Visitor Center on Saturday, May 20. It will also mark the 50th Anniversary Commission’s 500-Day countdown until the 50th anniversary of the desegregation of Central High in September 2007.
The groundbreaking begins at 10 a.m. at the intersection of South Park Street and Daisy L. Gatson Bates Drive. U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor, Congressman Vic Snyder and Mayor Jim Dailey will be joined by the anniversary committee representatives, members of the Little Rock Nine and other dignitaries.
The new visitor center will help accommodate the growing number of people interested in learning more about civil rights and the Little Rock desegregation crisis. Visitation at the historic site has increased from 21,084 in 2001 (the year the National Park Service assumed operation of the visitor center) to 44,293 last year. The new facility will have about 3,000 square feet of exhibit space, almost six times what the current visitor center holds. The current visitor center will become an education center.
Call 374-1957 for more information.
Reporter discusses Iraq
Author Aaron Glantz will discuss his book “How America Lost Iraq” during a special program at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 18, in the Main Library’s Darragh Center. Glantz, a reporter for Pacifica Radio and Free Speech Radio News, has worked as an unembedded reporter on the ground in Iraq. He has visited Iraq three times during the U.S. occupation. His work from Iraq has been syndicated to newspapers around the world by Inter Press News Service.
Glantz’s free program is co-sponsored by the Committee on Foreign Relations and the Central Arkansas Library System. A reception and book signing will follow the program. For reservations, call 918-3032.