Flashback Friday #9

 Ozark Folk Center

Just outside the quaint little town of Mountain View, Arkansas, exists a wonderful state park called the Ozark Folk Center.  The mission of this park is to preserve and present to visitors the pioneer heritage of the Ozarks region.  Last year Retta and I spent some time at the Folk Center, where we were able to enjoy a day filled with American folk music and displays of living history.

The park strives to recreate an authentic pioneer village, and many of the living history displays are housed in original log houses scattered about the grounds.

Ozark style log cabin at Ozark Folk Center

The photographs above and below show two of the log cabins that the visitor is able to examine and stroll through.  It is my understanding that these two cabins were disassembled at their original location, and then reconstructed within the park.

Rear view of log cabin at Ozark Folk Center

The best part of the Ozark Folk Center are the living history displays which occur throughout the park.  In an era where we are accustomed to mass production, it is both interesting and educational to witness how many common items were produced in the past.  For example, we all know what is required today in order to sweep the floor.  We go to the local super store, where we fork over $4.88 to buy a broom produced in Malaysia or China.  But in the past, in order to sweep the floor you had to first make the broom yourself.  This process entailed the searching for, and gathering up of all the components that made up a broom.  Straw would have to be found to create the broom head. Proper wood had to be found, cleaned and dried, and only then could you begin the process of weaving the straw onto the broomstick in order to create a functional broom.

Broom assembly at Ozark Folk Center

In the photograph above, the craftsman shows a visitor how the process of making a broom occurs.  One of the things that I enjoyed most about the Ozark Folk Center was the fact that you could mingle with the craftspeople, who were delighted to show you all the nuances of their skill.  By the time this demonstration was over, I felt as if I could produce a half-way decent broom on my own, should the need ever arise.

Cooking demonstration at Ozark Folk Center

This friendly lady was demonstrating how the pioneers would bake various treats.  The kitchen was equipped with many of the utensils, ingredients and appliances that were in use in days gone by.

Print shop at Ozark Folk Center

The print shop pictured above was the means by which books, magazines, and newspapers were produced in the past.  In this day and age, when virtually anybody can become a publisher with a computer and simple printer, it is interesting to think about all of the technology that has evolved over the years.  Today, we can publish anything we want to at the mere push of a button, but in the past it took all of the machinery pictured above to create the most simple reading matter.

Soap production at Ozark Folk Center

Now that we have swept the floor, baked some treats, and printed a newspaper to read, we might want to wash up before enjoying our fresh-baked snack.  Since there was no market available to purchase soap, it was necessary to make your own soap in the past.  The Ozark Folk Center has a soap making demonstration that shows all of the steps involved in producing a bar of soap.  Today, this might be an enjoyable hobby for some, and a full fledged business for others, but most of us would probably prefer to just pick up a bar of soap or two at the local market.

Weaving on loom at Ozark Folk Center

The woman in the picture above uses this loom to demonstrate various weaving techniques and patterns to visitors.  Throughout this room were several looms, each with  weaving projects in various states of completion.

You may have noticed in all of the photographs above that there doesn’t appear to be many people gathered around the crafts persons.  At the time that we visited the Ozark Folk Center, we pretty much had the grounds to our self.  I do not know if this is the way it is at the Folk Center all of the time, but we were there in mid-June of 2005, and the place was not crowded at all.  We had a wonderful time visiting the park, and I especially enjoyed the ability to have one-on-one conversations with the craftspeople throughout the park.

Although I do not have pictures to show about the music, I still must comment about it now.  Mountain View, Arkansas is considered by many to be the American folk music capital of the world.  On any given evening, you are welcome to pull up a lawn chair in the town courthouse square, where you will be treated to musicians performing traditional folk music.  Since there is plenty of space around the square, many individuals and groups may be performing at any given time.  There are places around the square to buy snacks, such as hot dogs and hamburgers, but Retta and I opted for ice cream cones.  Lapping up the ice cream, while sitting in a lawn chair and listening to talented musicians play traditional American folk music is a wonderful way to spend the evening. 

The town hosts the annual Ozark Folk Music Festival, as well as a host of other traditional American music festivities.  The Ozark Folk Center has daily concerts in several venues in the park, so that visitors can listen to traditional folk music the year round.   I highly recommend a visit to Mountain View if you have the opportunity.

7 thoughts on “Flashback Friday #9

  1. I’m beginning to think that your Flashback Fridays are bad for me… See, before discovering your blog and FC’s blog, I had no desire to go to the US of A… none. Ever. For any reason. Now, not only am I dying to see Florida in all it’s FC’y glory, but you keep telling me about awesome places I’m going to want to check out on the way!!

    Not fair, Hal… not fair at all 😛

  2. (I am glad you’re back and doing the Flashback Fridays again, though… I really missed the two you were away for. Must be one of those love-hate things)

  3. The actor DICK POWELL was also born in Mountain Veiw. His home is on the main drag thu town. Well actually the only “drag” thu town. Thanks for the story.

  4. That was a very interesting tour that you just took me on and I plan on visiting the park this summer. It’s not far from me and would be a very interesting place to visit.

  5. I just discovered your site through the Carnival of Trees and I enjoyed this post. My parents retired to the Ozarks in 1981 so Arkansas was our vacation destination for many years with side trips to Mountain View and the Ozark Folk Center. Just yesterday one of my teenage sons started singing “Crow black chicken” which he learned at the Folk Center when he was seven years old and I am still using the broom purchased there over 15 years ago. (and that is not a reflection on how often I sweep!) Mom’s been gone just over a year now and I’m not sure if I will be making the trip to the Ozarks again except in my memories.

    BTW, another favorite activity was the hike from Gunner Pool to Blanchard Springs, usually over Thanksgiving or even Christmas visits as well as canoeing the Buffalo River.

  6. Hello – can I use your photograph of the log cabin on your site for similation exercise I am running which by chance we have called Exercise Ozark and i would like to use this photo as a little logo – this will be used for internal use only.

  7. Graham,

    You may use the log cabin photo as you wish, with no attribution necessary. Thank you for requesting permission (most people do not bother)!

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