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.
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In addition to stalwarts like Riverfest and King Biscuit, 2011 saw the launch of several new music festivals and the further growth of some of the upstarts. The inaugural Johnny Cash Music Festival at Arkansas State University featured heavyweights like Kris Kristofferson, George Jones and most of the Cash family. Hot Water Hills in Hot Springs and Festival on the Border in Fort Smith were promising new additions to the state's slate of festivals, while others — Valley of the Vapors in Hot Springs, The Fayetteville Roots Festival and Wakarusa and Harvest Music Festival (pictured), both on Mulberry Mountain near Ozark — continued to solidify their positions with strong lineups. Along with these are the many other smaller events focusing on blues, bluegrass, jazz, folk and classical. If you can't find a music festival to your liking in Arkansas, you probably aren't looking hard enough.
The singer, guitarist, session heavyweight, actor, stone-cold legend and native of Delight, Ark., told the world last summer that he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's. The 75-year-old then announced he would hit the road one last time. "The Glen Campbell Goodbye Tour" caps a career that's spanned five decades, multiple No. 1 hits and millions upon millions of albums sold.
The legendary blues guitarist — who grew up in Hughes (St. Francis County) and provided spooky, scorching accompaniment to Howlin' Wolf — died in early December of heart failure. He was 80, and his final performance was at Helena's King Biscuit Blues Festival in October.
"It Is Fine! Everything is Fine"
The second in a trilogy, Crispin Glover's bizarre art-house masterpiece did not disappoint when he screened it in Little Rock and Hot Springs in July. Glover travels the country personally screening his films, which are not available otherwise. He told the Times that he would come back to Arkansas "at a later date" to screen his first film, "What Is It?" Let's hope that "later date" is sooner rather than later.
The Little Rock native's second film, "Take Shelter," won two prizes at Cannes (the Critics Week Grand Prize and the Society of Dramatic Authors and Composers' SACD Prize) and was nominated for two Gotham Independent Film Awards and five 2012 Film Independent Spirit Awards. He wrapped up the biggest film shoot in Arkansas history last month with "Mud," starring Reese Witherspoon and Matthew McConaughey. At this rate, Nichols seems likely to have a spot on this list nailed down for years to come.
What happens when you mix inclement weather, lackluster communication, Kid Rock and Kid Rock fans? We're not exactly certain, but it probably looks something like this: disappointed fans who couldn't make it to Verizon Arena on account of the snow complain on Kid Rock's message board; Kid Rock extends an offer of "A REFUND, STRAIGHT OUT OF [his] POCKET," and advises that his "so called 'fans' on [his] website bitchin and moanin and saying [he is] greedy, can GO FUCK [themselves], plain and simple." So there you have it, the Great Kid Rock Concert Kerfuffle of 2011.
One-time Arkansan and hands-down one of the finest singer/songwriters of all time, Lucinda Williams played Juanita's in October for a standing-room only crowd. Tickets sold out at near warp speed, but a few of the folks who got a hold of them complained afterward about the lack of seating. The Times therefore proposes that Williams come back to town, preferably on an annual-or-so basis, and play Robinson, followed by an after party at a smaller venue. How about it, Lucinda?