Big Woods Festival puts focus on Elvis
Bird walks, fishing, talks from experts on the recently rediscovered ivory-billed woodpecker and a visit by Elvis are on the schedule Saturday, May 21, for the fourth annual Big Woods Birding Festival at Clarendon.
The Big Woods Conservation partnership will host members of the search team that has been working for the past 15 months in the Cache and White River National Refuges to document the woodpecker, first seen by Gene Sparling of Hot Springs in February 2004 and nicknamed Elvis. Sparling; Arkansas Nature Conservancy director Scott Simon; David Luneau, who shot the famed video of the bird; author Phil Hoose, and woodpecker expert Martjan Lammertink will give talks in the Monroe County Courthouse before and after lunch.
At lunch, Brian Lee Howell will perform his Elvis tribute act, “Bringing It Back.”
The kids’ fishing derby will run from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the Donald Branch Fishin’ Hole (preregister at 870-747-5414) and guided bird walks on the levee will start at 7 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. The Little Rock Zoo’s “Birds of Prey” program is scheduled for 10 a.m.
The Bug Tussle Boys take the stage at 1:30 p.m. A butterfly walk is set for 2 p.m. Boat rides for children and adults, a rock climbing wall and other children’s activities, a mini lawnmower and tractor pull and other events will take place throughout the day.
Welcome home, heroes
The state will pay tribute to its soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines who have been deployed to serve with Armed Forces Day –- “Welcome Home Arkansas’s Heroes” beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 21, at War Memorial Stadium.
The event is being coordinated with the office of Maj. Gen. Don Morrow of the Arkansas National Guard, Arkansas Department of Veteran’s Affairs, Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Marine Corps League. Troops and their families will receive free meals, while concession stands will be available to the general public. There is no admission charge, and gates will open at 8:30 a.m. Entertainment begins at 11 a.m., with headlining rock singer John Waite taking the stage at 2 p.m.
For more information, call 370-3820.
‘Classic Romance’ on the stage
Little Rock playwright Betty McPherson directs a group of local actors in “A Classic Romance,” a story she wrote about mistaken identities, endangered orphans, swordfights, mishap and mayhem set in 1820s England and which she brings to the stage Friday and Saturday, May 20-21. The play will be staged at the Arkansas Arts Center. It’s the fifth McPherson has written, directed and produced.
General admission tickets, available at the door, are $25. Showtimes are 8 p.m. both nights.
The 12th annual Jamfest, a 3-on-3 basketball tournament, and Heritage Day Festival is scheduled for Saturday, May 21, at EMOBA (Ernie’s Museum of Black Arkansans) at 12th and Louisiana streets. Activities for all ages including soul food plates, gospel choirs, Community Bakery sponsored cake-walks, temporary tattooing, dance performances and more. Admission is free. Call 372-0018.
Winless Twisters face Birmingham
The Arkansas Twisters return home still looking for their first win when they play the Birmingham Steeldogs in an arena football game at 7 p.m. on Saturday at Alltel Arena. Doors open at 6 p.m. The first 1,000 paid admissions will receive a Sonic insulated lunch bag, and Rockin’ Ray and the Skyy Dogs USA will provide entertainment. Tickets start at $10 for the upper deck, $17 for the end zone and $21 for the lower bowl and can be purchased at the arena box office or through Ticketmaster (975-7575).
Steak’s on at Magnolia
You can almost smell the steaks cooking in Columbia County — the annual Magnolia Blossom Festival and its signature event, the World’s Championship Steak Cook-off, are this weekend.
The festival gets going Friday with a food court and carnival rides starting at noon and lasting through the evening, concluding with a gospel concert. Activities resume at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, and 50 teams will compete in the steak cook-off, with the grills being lit at 4 p.m. Dinner tickets are $13; about 3,000 dinners will be served. The top chef is awarded the Governor’s Trophy and $2,500 in cash.
Ronnie McDowell, who sang “The King Is Gone,” will be the music entertainment Saturday night.
Admission is free. Most of the events are around the Columbia County Courthouse Square. Other events include a fishing tournament on Lake Columbia, a 5K run/walk, antique car show, sidewalk art show and a motorcycle show. Call 800-482-3330.
Mudbug Madness in PB
Cajun food, zydeco music and more will be on tap at the second Mudbug Madness Crawfish Festival in Pine Bluff’s Regional Park on Saturday, May 21. Delta Crawfish will prepare spicy crawfish served with potatoes, corn and Cajun sausage for servings by the plate or by the pound. Gumbo teams will also compete in a cookoff. The music lineup features the Matthew David Webb Band from noon to 3 p.m. and Jamie Bergeron and the Kickin’ Cajuns from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., both at Lakeview Amphitheater. Other activities include a street dance, rock climbing wall, giant fire truck slide, kids’ rides and amusement games.
Festival-goers receive a gumbo tasting kit and ticket with a $5 admission. Children 12 and under are admitted free. Gates open at noon Saturday. Call 870-536-8175.
NLR will be roaring
If it sounds like thunder on the north side of the Arkansas River this weekend, that’s exactly what’s going on: “Thunder on the River,” an event for motorcycle enthusiasts and everyone else at North Little Rock’s North Shore Riverwalk. Some of the events include a Biker Babe contest, a poker run and bike games. Four bee gardens will be set up between Riverfront Avenue and the park, plus dozens of cycle merchandise vendors will be on hand. Food will run the gamut, and music entertainment includes Midnight Express Southern Rock, Max Taylor Southern Rock and Blues and Texas Slim and Jim Sushier from Dallas Texas Blues.
The festival opens at 4 p.m. Thursday and 9 a.m. Friday and Saturday, closing at 11 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, visit www.thunderontheriver.org/ on the Internet.