66th Clothes­line Fair Draws 32,000 Vis­i­tors

SQUARE DANCE CON­TEST RE­NAMED FOR PARKS

Washington County Enterprise-Leader - - FRONT PAGE - By Lynn Kut­ter

PRAIRIE GROVE — The an­nual square dance per­for­mances, orig­i­nal craft ven­dors, food and mu­sic con­tinue to draw thou­sands of peo­ple to the Clothes­line Fair each year at Prairie Grove Bat­tle­field State Park.

Laura Jen­nings, park in­ter­preter, said of­fi­cials es­ti­mate 32,000 peo­ple came to the 66th an­nual Clothes­line Fair over La­bor Day week­end.

“Satur­day was very busy and Sun­day and Mon­day were a lit­tle slower,” Jen­nings said.

This was Jen­nings’ first time for the fair and her first time to watch square danc­ing.

“I thought it was a great event that brings a lot of peo­ple to­gether,” Jen­nings said. “It’s a unique ex­pe­ri­ence that some­thing like this takes place in a state park.”

Park staff stayed busy over the week­end mak­ing sure ev­ery­thing ran smoothly.

“We were try­ing to make sure ev­ery­one was happy and that there weren’t any main­te­nance is­sues,” Jen­nings said.

Thou­sands showed up Satur­day and Mon­day to cheer on their fa­vorite square dance groups.

Prairie Grove Lions Club voted this year to re­name the dance con­test in mem­ory of Peggy Parks, who re­cently passed away.

“She did so much to start this great tra­di­tion,” said Craig Bat­tles with the Lions Club. “We thought it fit­ting to have her name on the com­pe­ti­tion and to keep the tra­di­tion go­ing.”

Parks, a former teacher and beloved mem­ber of the com­mu­nity, is cred­ited with start­ing the square dance tra­di­tion. Some of her stu­dents per­formed the Vir­ginia Reel folk dance at the Clothes­line Fair in 1958, and square danc­ing has been go­ing on since then.

The Git R Done Gang won the 2017 Peggy Parks Memorial Square Dance Com­pe­ti­tion by only one point. The group scored 533 points and won $400. Orig­i­nal Hoot ‘N Holler came in sec­ond with 532 points. Other awards went to Dixie Dy­na­mite, third place, and Grin ‘N Square It and Arkansas Aces, hon­or­able men­tion.

Bat­tles said a new tro­phy will be pre­sented to the win­ners of the 2018 square dance con­test. The names of win­ners from all past and fu­ture com­pe­ti­tions will be en­graved on the tro­phy. Bat­tle said the plan is to move the tro­phy around to dif­fer­ent busi­nesses in Prairie Grove so it can be seen by the com­mu­nity.

Eve Smith, who co­or­di­nates the craft show for Arts Cen­ter of the Ozarks in Spring­dale, said 150 ven­dors par­tic­i­pated in the Clothes­line Fair, the most Smith has had since she started eight years ago.

More than 15,000 peo­ple came through Satur­day and Smith at­trib­uted that to the weather and also the fact the Ra­zor­backs were not play­ing.

“The ven­dors did awe­some,” Smith said. “So many told me that

they did more this year than the last sev­eral years.”

Sev­eral new ven­dors set up booths for the 2017 fair and all in­di­cated they hope to re­turn in the fu­ture.

Mary Mad­dox with Moun­tain Man Skrub of St. Louis, Mo., heard about the Clothes­line Fair from a friend and de­cided to sign up.

“I’m glad I did it,” Mad­dox said. “This is the most I’ve been wel­comed in a fair. The hospi­tal­ity is great. I def­i­nitely will be back.”

Daniel Kim is a pas­tor from Den­ton, Texas, and a pro­fes­sor of the­ol­ogy in China. He was cre­at­ing posters for his cus­tomers. He would take the let­ters of each per­son’s name and make a spe­cial draw­ing out of each let­ter.

“This is best show,” Kim said. “I’m very happy here.”

He said he would re­turn next year if his teach­ing sched­ule al­lowed it.

Jo McCarty of Spring­dale re­cently moved to North­west Arkansas from New York and was vis­it­ing the Clothes­line Fair for the first time as a cus­tomer.

“I ab­so­lutely love it,” McCarty said. “There is a va­ri­ety of ven­dors and a friend­li­ness from ev­ery­one.”

McCarty was buy­ing a neck­lace from an­other new ven­dor, Kuchy Coo of Spring­field, Mo. Owner Denise Kucharski said she trav­els across the coun­try set­ting up her booth and al­ways likes Arkansas fairs. She said she es­pe­cially likes the Clothes­line Fair be­cause of the state park and its beau­ti­ful, peace­ful set­ting.

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