music city, arkansas
the focus of the entire town of mountain view is music, especially old-timey music, which includes for these purposes early country, folk, bluegrass, traditional/appalachian, and gospel.
the ozark folk center has professional shows featuring these types of music, but you can hear much of the same music for free at jimmy driftwood's barn (the name of a local music performance place) on friday or sunday nights, and on the downtown square on any night when the weather is tolerable.
if you have an acoustic (non-electric) instrument, bring it with you, and go to the square. there will be many small circles of people playing together. if you stand nearby with your instrument in view, you will usually be asked or allowed to join the circles, where the custom is to go around with each person leading one song. you do not have to be a pro!
most local musicians are very friendly and patient with newcomers. playing music on the porch of the music shop, with people wandering up with various instruments.
This tip is added in honor of my daughter Allison, a fifth grade teacher whom I love and respect deeply. (All I could remember seeing at this "town" was a gas station, a bridge over the White River, and this sign.)
Here's to you, Allison!
Mountain View, Arkansas
One of the billboards in Mountain View bills itself as the Folk Music Capitol of the World. Quite a tall claim, eh? True or not - it is difficult to imagine a town or city anywhere in the world where a higher percentage of its citizens participate in music-making. And to be fair, there is a lot of art in this town, too.
Mountain View is hard to find, and harder to get to, but it is a gem worth discovering! Nancy and I spent three wonderfully relaxing and enjoyable days in this little Ozark town, and I am ready to go back.
In spite of its draw as a tourist destination, the town has largely maintained its local identity. Stores close their doors at 5 or 5:30 pm because the shop owners are more concerned about their families (and making music, perhaps) than a few extra dollars from the tourist trade. I doubt there is a person in town who would want Mountain View to become another Branson, Missouri.
One of the draws of Mountain View, Arkansas, is the Ozark Mountain range in which it is located. Even though this area does not feature the most rugged terrain in the Ozarks, there are a lot of scenic highways and hiking paths to enjoy, as well as streams and rivers to float.
Ozark Folk Center #1
"A look at the Ozark Folk Center"
This Arkansas state park does not get near the tourism traffic it deserves. It is a most entertaining and informative place to visit. If you are in the area, I encourage you to devote a good bit of a day to this living history center.
This picture shows a small portion of the grounds. I have always noted that abandoned old farm machinery looks like contemporary art, and here it is used for that purpose. Also, the grounds feature massive plantings of native fauna, many of which have beautiful flowers.
One of the early stops on our self-guided tour was the broommaker who explained his craft as he worked.
"The old school house"
This is an inter-active exhibit. Enter the one-room school, pick up your slate board and chalk, and get ready to learn.
The schoolmaster engages his "students" in lessons, a spelling competition between the boys and girls (mostly grown-ups) at the time of this photo.
"Cabin and root cellar"
You can hardly see the old settler's cabin for the trumpet vine growing over the front porch in this photo. And the root cellar is to the left - the mound completely covered by garden. (In my part of the country, the root cellars are better known as tornado shelters.)
This craftsman took time off from his project to carve a tiny face on toothpick for a little girl in attendance.
"On the deck"
Next to the schoolhouse is a wooden deck that extends out into the woods - a nice place to relax in the shade. Around noon, they usually have some kind of activity, usually a story teller spinning yarns. On this day however, the school teacher (on the guitar) and his kindly wife (with the mountain dulcimer) lead those assembled in the singing of some favorite old songs.
"In the kitchen"
On this woodburning stove, using the same recipes and ingredients that would have been used a hundred or more years ago, this lady prepares to make cornbread. Later in the day, we dropped by again and sampled some fresh made hoecake.