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Schedule of Events

Friday, August 27th

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9:45 AM - Opening Ceremony

Celebrate our first Arkansas Heritage Festival with a welcome and introduction from Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin. Be at the Ponce de Leon Center in Hot Springs Village early enough to experience it all! 

10:00 AM - Holly Hope

Flora, Fauna, and Faces: Reading Cemetery Symbolism

Holly is Special Projects Historian for the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program. She has authored articles, written nominations for the National and Arkansas Historic Register, and provides lectures on various topics of Arkansas history. She also organizes and facilitates hands-on cemetery preservation workshops in cemeteries across the state.


Her presentation today will explain what the symbols on gravestones mean as well as the history of their use in Arkansas cemeteries.

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11:00 AM - Janis Kearney

My Arkansas Journey, featuring Daisy Bates, Miller Williams, Bill Clinton, and Maya Angelou

After being publisher of the historic Arkansas State Press, Janis served as presidential diarist to U.S. president Bill Clinton, the first such appointment in presidential history. She later founded the Writing Our World (WOW) publishing company and has authored books including Conversations: William Jefferson Clinton, From Hope to Harlem, Cotton Field of Dreams, Daisy: Between a Rock and a Hard Place, Once Upon a Time There was a Girl: A Murder at Mobile Bay, and Something to Write Home About: Memories from a Presidential Diarist.


Today’s program will describe her journey from a large family of sharecroppers to the White House and the publishing world, chronicling the remarkable people she encountered along the way.

12:00 PM - Dr. Sam Taggart

Country Doctors of Arkansas

After 40 years in family practice, Dr. Sam Taggart created the Arkansas Physician’s Oral History Project. His most recent book, Country Doctors of Arkansas, is a product of that study, in which he collected stories of the lives and practices of small-town doctors in Arkansas over the last 70 years. 

This fascinating presentation will share those stories of rural health care, which came from physicians aged 34 to 98 years old. 

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1:00 PM - Terry Diggs

Folklore and Songs of the Ouachita Mountains

Terry is a noted attorney who developed an interest in folk music and folk stories at an early age. Raised in a family of singers and storytellers at Bonnerdale in the foothills of the Ouachita Mountains, he has collected and performed most of his adult life. Although he has practiced law in Hot Springs for almost 40 years, he still lives on the old homeplace at Bonnerdale.


Terry has been collecting the songs, stories, and folklore of the Ouachita Mountain region of Arkansas all his life. Today, he will share some of these with us, including the humorous story “The Goat that Blowed Up,” and what he calls a sad song, “I Wish I Was Single Again.”

2:00 PM - Rex Nelson

A State of Disaster

As senior editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Rex is one of the most high-profile writers and speakers in the state. He writes three columns a week plus essays for the cover of the newspaper's Sunday Perspective section, is the author of three books, and presents the enormously popular blog, Rex Nelson’s Southern Fried.


His program will explore the fact that Arkansas’ history has been largely defined by a series of disasters, both natural and manmade. From the New Madrid earthquakes of 1811-12 to the decision by Gov. Orval Faubus to block nine black students from entering Little Rock Central High School in 1957, Arkansans have had to overcome everything from floods and droughts to corruption and poor decisions by their elected leaders.

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3:00 PM - Arkansas PBS

Dream Land: Little Rock's West 9th Street

This award-winning documentary from Arkansas PBS spotlights Little Rock’s historic West 9th Street, which was once a vibrant African-American business and entertainment district. Taborian Hall housed a variety of black businesses through the 1920s and 1930s. Its Dreamland Ballroom was a stop on the “Chitlin Circuit,” showcasing nationally-known African-American musicians.


The people of the West 9th Street community are showcased in the face of federal Urban Renewal programs, school desegregation, the Housing Act of 1949, and the Eisenhower Interstate Program. The story of West 9th Street and the ghosts of the Dreamland Ballroom unfold in this spellbinding film.

Saturday, August 28th

9:00 AM - Linda Pennington Black

The Negro Baseball League and its Connection to Arkansas

Linda Black is a native Arkansan who grew up in the Arkadelphia community of Curtis. Among her other books, this award-winning writer and poet is the author of A Legend Among Us: The Story of William “Youngblood” McCrary.


Her program will spotlight the Negro Baseball League, particularly the compelling story of the young William “Youngblood” McCrary who entered the League at age 17, before graduating high school. Having aspirations of playing in the Major League, he was nicknamed “Youngblood” by legendary athlete Satchel Paige. Until his passing in 2018, William McCrary was a living legend as one of the few remaining figures of the acclaimed Negro Baseball League.

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10:00 AM - David Hill

The Vapors: A Southern Family, the New York Mob, and the Rise and Fall of Hot Springs, America's Forgotten Capital of Vice

David Hill was raised in what he calls a family of carnies, gamblers, hell-raisers and story-tellers. His work has been featured on the weekly radio program, This American Life, as well as major publications such as Esquire, GQ, The New York Times Magazine, and The New Yorker. His highly-acclaimed book, The Vapors: A Southern Family, the New York Mob, and the Rise and Fall of Hot Springs, America’s Forgotten Capital of Vice, was chosen as a New York Times Notable Book for 2020, one of Publisher’s Weekly’s “Summer Reads of 2020, GQ’s “Favorite Books of 2020 So Far,” Bookhub’s “12 of the Best Non-fiction Books Coming out this Summer, and one of Thrillist’s “21 books we can’t wait to read!”


David will discuss the gangsters and gamblers who once flocked to Hot Springs. It was a place where hustlers and high-rollers could make their fortunes and hide from the law, as well as being the site of The Vapors, a lavish nightclub/casino whose spectacular rise and fall brought them together before blowing them apart.

11:00 AM - Charlie Moore and Ken Tillery

Mountain Music and its Roots

Charlie, who calls himself an explorer and preservation promoter of mountain music, has attended Old Time Music Camps in Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, West Virginia, Alabama, Tennessee, Missouri and, of course, Arkansas. In learning more about the mountain music tradition, he has studied with some of its most accomplished musicians.


Charlie and Ken will present an interactive program mixed with history, heritage, and music, plus plenty of audience participation. Starting with the earliest American settlers thru the early 1930s, it will show how mountain music developed from varying styles and primitive instruments to the music we enjoy today, whether country, blues, jazz, Cajun, ragtime, gospel, cowboy, bluegrass, folk, Americana, pop, rock and roll, and other modern genres.

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12:00 PM - Lisa Carey

Arkansas' Heritage in Quartz

Lisa Coleman Carey is the daughter of Ron Coleman of Ron Coleman Mining. She grew up immersed in the world of quartz crystal. In college, realizing she had to take science courses, she began to learn it in a whole new way. Today, in addition to her shop, All Things Natural, she is owner of a unique store called All Things Arkansas, both of which are located in downtown Hot Springs. Featuring products from Arkansas, made in Arkansas, or relating to Arkansas, it attracts tourists and local residents who love their state as much as she does.


During her presentation, Lisa will focus on quartz crystal, which is the state mineral of Arkansas. She will take you on a brief history of quartz crystals in the Ouachita Mountains and what it was like to grow up in rural Arkansas while being involved in international business. Lisa says audience members will most likely learn something they did not know, and might even laugh once or twice along the way.

1:00 PM - Liz Robbins

Hot Springs: A Small Town's Giant Contribution to Arkansas Tourism Heritage

Serving as executive director of the Garland County Historical Society since 2007, Liz is the editor of its yearly journal, The Record, and is a past board member of the Arkansas State Archives. Before taking the helm at GCHS, this Hot Springs native taught English for more than 30 years, with the last 26 being at Lakeside High School in Hot Springs.


This program explores how and why the small Arkansas town of Hot Springs has been a major tourist destination from the stagecoach era to the jet age. In the process, it added to the tourism industry of the entire state.

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2:00 PM - Butch Bennett

History of Hot Springs Village Set in Stone

Norman (Butch) Bennett is co-owner of Bennett Brothers Stone Co.,Inc, Hot Springs and Benton Arkansas, and has lived in HSV for 49 years, arriving on his 30th birthday! His dad called him to come help with the stone work on the new DeSoto Club, then under construction, with architect E. Fay Jones of the University of Arkansas. His stories about the early Village, work with Fay Jones on the early days of the Village, will inspire you! And make you proud of our heritage in HSV and in Arkansas!