Thousands of visitors strolled the Main Street of Van Buren during the 36th Annual Old Timer's Day Arts and Crafts Festival which kicked off on Friday (May 10).
A large crowd gathered in the streets on Saturday to enjoy games and rides for the kids, food and vendors that were lined up and down Main Street.
The festival offered local vendors and businesses from out of town, as far away as Maine. There was more than 100 arts and crafts booths lining the street and vendors sold food, crafts, jewelry, wood work, and much more. Downtown merchants also took advantage of the festival and kept their doors open late trying to draw in customers. A children's carnival with amusement rides, games, and pony rides gave the little ones something to enjoy as well.
Live entertainment was provided throughout the event on the stage near the historic train depot. Performances started early in the morning Saturday and performances continued into the evening with country singer Gene Watson, who is best known for his 1975 hit song "Love in the Hot Afternoon."
This year's event had a lot of local talent. Brittany and Ashley Hollis performed on stage earlier in the afternoon on Saturday. Ashley is a junior at Roland High School and performs in competition with her choir. Ashley's hopes are to one day sing on stage with a band and tour the United States. Little sister Brittany is a 7th grader at Roland. Brittany began singing karaoke for fun and was approached to sing in a "gig" and has performed on stage at other venues since. Brittany hopes to make a career of singing one day.
One of the vendors to set up a booth was local high school student Kody Lee. He is a 16-year-old high school student at Van Buren who makes pottery pieces. He took a class in high school and loved it so much that for his 16th birthday asked his parents for a kiln, pottery wheel, and glazes. He has since made pieces at home.
Fort Smith author Wayne Hancock, who has written eight books, had a booth set up. He was available to autograph his books. He began writing eight years ago and has published one book a year since. He is 86 and says "I have a lot of stories in my head that I need to tell so I have been busy writing one book a year." He writes mystery novels.
The Old Timer's Day Arts and Crafts Festival will continue through Sunday (May 12) until 5 p.m. The event is sponsored by the Old Town Merchants Association.