Events set to honor Bass Reeves once statue arrives

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 190 views 

FORT SMITH — The bronze likeness of a true Western frontier hero will soon be erected in Ross Pendergraft Park on a plinth whose base is “faced” with original curbstones recently removed from Garrison Avenue. A 10-day celebration surrounding the unveiling of the monument has been scheduled to take place in Fort Smith May 17-27.

On May 16, the Bass Reeves Legacy monument will arrive in Fort Smith at about 3 p.m., escorted by a motorcade of policemen coming from every Oklahoma county and city, beginning Norman, Okla., where the statue was made. The unveiling of the monument will take place at 10:30 a.m May 26. Angela Taylor with channel KHBS/KHOG, Channels 40/29, news will emcee the event.

From May 13-18, the Fort Smith National Historic Site will display markers honoring each of the lawmen who died in the line of duty while working for the federal court for the Western District of Arkansas during the years 1872 to 1896.

At 9 a.m. on May 18, the Harold T. Holden Artistic Grit Art Exhibition will open in the Fort Smith Convention Center rotunda and north lobby. Harold T. Holden is the Western artist who created the Bass Reeves monument. A one-week art exhibition of both paintings and sculptures will be available for public viewing. A welcome party will be held from 5-7 p.m. May 24 at the Fort Smith Museum of History with a cookout in the museum parking lot. Tickets are $10 per person.

At 11:30. a.m on May 25, the fifth annual Book Lovers' Luncheon will take place at the Fort Smith Convention Center theatre lobby. Tickets are $25, with proceeds benefiting the Fort Smith Public Library Endowment and Trust and the Friends of the Library. Featured author is Vaunda Micheaux Nelson, the award-winning author of Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, U.S. Deputy Marshal.

The real party starts at 6 p.m. May 25 with a Thank You Awards Gala at The MovieLounge on Rogers Avenue. The event features a red carpet entrance and cocktail party with paparazzi-style pictures taken by Bedford’s Camera and Video as you enter via the red carpet. There will be an awards recognition dinner at 7 p.m. prepared by executive chef Will Greenwood, who worked in the administrations of Presidents Clinton and President George W. Bush. Partygoers can take in a dinner movie and dance beginning at 9 p.m. Tickets are $100 per person or $850 for a table of ten. There will also be special celebrity guest appearances by stars such as James Pickens Jr,. actor on  the ABC drama “Grey’s Anatomy,” and Alyse Eady, 2010 Miss Arkansas and runner-up to Miss America. Tickets to all these events can be bought here.

Unveiling festivities begin at 10 am on May 26 with day-long activities at each of the historic sites including Pendergraft Park’s grounds, the Fort Smith National Historic Site, the Fort Smith Museum of History, The Clayton House, the site of the U.S. Marshals Museum, The Park at West End and the Downtown Restaurant & Pub Association. The Farmer's Market will also be open to the public. The trolley will make 20 minute cycles to each of the historic sites.

The week’s activities will wind down May 27 with the Clayton Conversations “The Badge and the Boots.” Dave Ross will interview T. Baridi Nkokheli on what it has been like to portray Bass Reeves for the past five years. Then at 3 p.m., noted scholar Art T. Burton and a panel of other experts on Reeves will present From Hero to Icon at the Fort Smith Main Library Community Room for a fascinating look at the life and legacy of U.S. Deputy Marshal Bass Reeves.