Clothesline Fair Draws Thousands
CLOTHESLINE: Fair Entertains Thousands
PRAIRIE GROVE — Vendor Sharon Gilbert of Dyer has set up her Craft Carousel booth at the Clothesline Fair for almost 36 years.
She’s been coming to the Fair since 1982, only missing two years during that time.
“I love it,” Gilbert said. “It’s like an addiction.”
Gilbert’s booth offers handmade Fall decorations and other items. She used to participate in many shows every year; now she only attends four.
The Clothesline Fair held at Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park is her first one for the season. Others are Fin and Feather at Lake Tenkiller in Oklahoma, Sharp Show at War Eagle and the Arkansas Apple Festival in Lincoln.
“I have so many repeat customers,” Gilbert said. “I always try to have something new every year.”
The 67th annual Clothesline Fair attracted thousands of people over the three-day Labor Day weekend as visitors showed up for the square dance performances, original craft vendors, food and live music. Thrown in with all of that, visitors also had several opportunities to hear about Civil War history and life during the Civil War years.
The Fair is sponsored by Prairie Grove Lions Club. Arts Center of the Ozarks in Springdale coordinates the craft portion of the event and state park staff take care of the grounds and help with any other needs.
Logan Beard, president of Prairie Grove Lions Club, said the non-profit group sees the Clothesline Fair as a chance for the community to come together and work together. The Lions Club also allows several school groups to work during the Fair to earn money. School groups included junior high cheer team, FCCLA, high school band and Project Graduation.
“I love the community involvement,” said Beard, who has been smoking chicken for the Lions Club for about 11 years. This year, club members smoked 750 chicken halves, along with turkey legs and slices of bologna, and served their food out of the Latta Barn.
The Lions Club also is in charge of food concessions and one push is to provide a wider variety of food choices each year to make the fair an even bigger festival. The 2018 fair had more than six food trucks.
Eve Smith with Arkansas Center of the Ozarks said about 150 vendors participated in this year’s craft fair, with 300 booths open for visitors to browse through. The Center requires crafts for sale to be handmade, not repurposed, and Smith said she believes that is an important part of the show.
“I like the heritage part,” Smith said. “Some of these people have been coming here for 30 and 40 years and they look to the Art Center to keep up the art value of the show.”
One of the newest vendors is Shane Glover of Southwest Silhouettes of Wellston, Okla. Glover creates handcrafted metal art. The 2018 Fair was his third year.
He returned this year, he said, because the Clothesline Fair brings in a great crowd and has one of the easiest setups for vendors.
One visitor, Jill Orsene, of Daphne, said she always comes to Fayetteville for the first Arkansas game and if it falls on Labor Day weekend, her trip includes the Clothesline Fair.
She likes it because crafts are handmade, prices are reasonable and the park is not overly crowded, she said.
Randall and Cindy Rieff of Prairie Grove served as grand marshals for the 2018 Clothesline Fair parade. Randall Rieff is a Prairie Grove volunteer firefighter and worked at the now Harps grocery store for more than 46 years. He received the city’s Buddy Lyle Citizenship Award in 2016. Cindy has worked at Dr. Bain’s dental office for 32 years. They are both active members of Prairie Grove First United Methodist Church.
Camilla Haley and Mattix Pinkerton with Hicks and Hairbows promenade during their exhibition dance on Sept. 1.
Sparkles and Spurs square dance group used a clothesline to hang their square dance dresses during the annual Clothesline Fair parade. The parade had about 200 entries and about 86 square dancing floats. In addition to the square dance groups, entries included tractors, antique and class vehicles, businesses, non-profit organizations and fire trucks.
Thousands of fans showed up to cheer on their favorite competitive square dance groups on Monday, Sept. 3, at the Clothesline Fair. This is only a snapshot of what the audience looked like at the amphitheater at Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park.
Teresa Farrington, the “Oakie Artist,” of Poteau, Okla., draws a caricature of Jerred Birkes, Abegail Birkes and their son, Lukas, 2½ months old. Farrington has brought her talents to the Clothesline Fair for 18 years.
Jill Orsene of Daphne was in Fayetteville for the Razorback football game. She said she always visits the Clothesline Fair if the Razorbacks’ first home game falls on Labor Day weekend. She’s been coming to the Clothesline Fair for about 11 years.
Rusty Relics of Morrow always brings tractors to the Clothesline Fair, including this Model D John Deere tractor. Callie McCoy, 12, of Ward, sits on the tractor for a photo by her father.
Denim and Daisies square dance group performs Saturday, Sept. 1, during the Clothesline Fair.
Kinley Ault and her square dance partner, Gunnar Orona, with Bows and Britches perform during the exhibition dances at the Clothesline Fair.
Ron Stinchcomb has emceed the square dance competition at the Clothesline Fair for more than 20 years.