A&E advisory for June 22-28: Bluesfest, BBQ and Haggard

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 160 views 

FORT SMITH — It’s going to be hot this weekend, or so we’ve been told. Triple digits? No problem. Blues music set against the backdrop of the Arkansas River will help keep you cool.

The Fort Smith Riverfront Blues Society brings the 22nd annual Riverfront Blues Festival to Harry E. Kelley Park Friday and Saturday (June 22-23).

 Zydeco accordion maestro Chubby Carrier and famed blues guitarist Eric Sardinas are among the national and international acts scheduled to perform, but the headline sets are reserved for local favorites, such as Tyrannosaurus Chicken and the Mark Albertson Trio, both of which have represented the Riverfront Blues Festival at the International Blues Challenge.

“We want to get them more exposure,”, thus the late-night time slots.

“They’re all heavies,” in the world of blues music, said Dori Colston, president of the blues society and owner of  R. Landry’s New Orleans Cafe in Fort Smith.

What to bring: blankets, lawn chairs and plenty of cash for the adult beverages offered. What not to bring: camping gear, coolers, camcorders and other recording devices.

Proceeds from the festival and other blues society fundraisers go to help promote the “Blues in the Schools” program (self-explanatory) and to maintain the Barry Ratliff Memorial Scholarship, awarded to a student pursuing a degree in music education.

Go here for a complete lineup and more information about the festival.

Other goings on in the coming week:

June 22-23
Food: Firefighters cookoff

OKEMAH, Okla. — Barbecue lovers can follow Interstate 40 across the border for a taste of offerings at the Oklahoma State Championship BBQ Cook-off.

The Firefighters’ Wildfire Cook-off will take place from noon-10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Okemah “Pasture of Plenty,” just off the interstate.

It’s a state championship, so it’s sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbecue Society — an indicator that the competition will be serious and the barbecue will be seriously good. Grab a taster kit and don’t look back. (As you read this, the barbecue masters have probably already started cooking.)

There’ll be lots of the other sideline activities to keep you busy as your food digests: live music, arts and crafts (which says to us, mostly crafts), a large area for children’s activities and a poker run at 10 a.m. Saturday.

For more, you’ll have to contact a real person at [email protected].

June 24
View: Balustrades and porticos

FORT SMITH — One hears often of Fort Smith’s Belle Grove Historic District, but what are the architectural features that identify the area?

Clayton House’s Julie Moncrief has called in an expert to explain it all. Graham Sharum, chairman of the Fort Smith Belle Grove Historic District Commission, will share his expertise in the area’s historic architecture at 2:15 p.m. Sunday at Clayton House.

If you don’t know the difference between balustrades and porticoes, Sharum’s presentation should be helpful. It may change the way you look at a great many buildings in the Belle Grove area.

Seating is limited, so call Julie at (479) 783-3000 to nab your spot.

June 26
Music: An icon swaggers in 

GREENWOOD — The Greenwood Chamber of Commerce recognizes that its duties extend beyond recruiting new members and recruiting business to this smallish community off Arkansas 10.

The organization is sponsoring a performance by country music legend Merle Haggard at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Greenwood Performing Arts Center.

Tickets can be bought in advance and right up to showtime. All seats in the orchestra, mezzanine and balcony are the same price, $60. Haggard has such a bounty of hits that its anyone’s wonder what he will play on a certain night.

Go here to get tickets, and watch The City Wire for Daniel Maher's review of the show.
June 27
Fun: Mad science

FORT SMITH — No, it’s not Weird Science, like the movie, it’s better than that.

It’s Mad Science by Stephen “Super Steve” Cox, the funny fellow in the white lab coat who, with a flick of his wrist and a beaker of liquid, can transform everyday substances into smoke or fizz and make you say, “Hey, how did he do that?”

Mad Science, based in Montreal Canada, has been around a while in western and Northwest Arkansas. Well over 40,000 children and parents have seen Cox do his thing. He’s become a regular fixture at The Jones Center, the Rogers Activity Center, the Arkansas Music Pavilion, Pinnacle Hills Promenade and the Fayetteville Public Library, among other venues.

You can catch Super Steve in action at 2 p.m. Wednesday  at the Fort Smith Public Library.

A warning: those standing in the front are prone to get wet; those standing in the back tend to get picked on.

For more info, go here, and watch The City Wire for Jeremy Donnell's coverage of Cox's antics.