This is a fun time! The cast are great performers, you really feel like you are part of the community and the family! It's a really sweet slapstick comedy type of place. If you are visiting Arkansas, this is the type of place you want to visit. :)
Northern Arkansas has so many beautiful natural left to explore. On one of the canoeing trips on the Buffalo National River we decided to camp out. We simply pulled up to a shoreline, set up camp.
Be aware that the shores are very stony and be aware that there are some spots along the river that are privately owned (well marked or inhabited)
This is where I learned to canoe and kayak. The white river was nice, but the Buffalo national river was better and more interesting. I'm thinking it might be one of the only wild rivers left in America, but I could be wrong. But, if you're in Arkansas, pick up a canoe and paddle!
I'll give a recommendation/address for Wild Bills to rent canoes since we used them for our 3 day trip and all went well :) (I used to have a bumper sticker for them on my car!)
I can't wait until I have a scanner to share all of the pictures I have. I worked in the caverns and was very lucky to go on private tours with my fellow volunteers. It was ranked as the Second Most Beautiful Caverns to Sonora Caverns in New Mexico (all white formations I believe in the country, as well it should be. This was the best experience of my life to work in such a beautiful and interesting place. I'll provide more info later.
There are only the streets around the square and a few more extending blocks. The Courthouse stands in the square and the bandstand at the East lower edge. There are craft shops, one with good iron work(pictured ). Most of the buildings are of field stone and in good repair. There are a few paces to eat or get sweets. Out of town are a dulcimer shop and other specialists which are touted by the Chamber of Commerce.
It was a not open day but we were not disapponted. Asmall group were holding forth in t ebandstand at the edge of the courthouse square, and we ambled up. One of the manifestations of our family's love of music is "get-together" performances of flok and popular music in "country-pickin" (Bluegrass) style. The 3 sons are quite good together. On this day only the lead man felt up to sitting in as a stranger and he held forth quite well. There were two old-timers on guitar and a woman who played the auto-harp and double spoons (a beautiful set). At one point a shy fellow stood outside and joined in with a fine harmonica performance for a while.
If you're in Mountain View and need something to do at night go to the Stone Drive-in Movie Theatre. It's out on HWY 67 just outside of Mountain View. Goto their website to see how to get there. There is no sign so you have to look closely when you get in the area to find it.
Our Mountain View stay was not all music-related. Besides visiting Blanchard Springs and Cavern, we drove around the beautiful countryside, including the White River area shown in the adjacent photo. For those into fishing, boating, kayaking, floating, etc., there are many opportunities for that.
Sure, there is great scenery, nice art, and catfish, but pure, authentic American folk music is the reason to visit Mountain View. You can go to one of up to five theatres for a show featuring various local groups. Or - you can just take your lawn chair down to the center of town and check out the musicians assembled there, playing and singing just for fun. Our visit was early in the week, so the numbers of players (and visitors) was low, but our hosts told us that weekends are really busy and fun.
There seems to be a special protocol to these jam sessions, though I never figured out how a person gets invited to join in. The players sit in a circle, and the "honor" gets passed around, each person choosing a song and announcing the key, then selecting soloists on the fly.
Be prepared to meet a variety of characters. In the attached photo, the lady playing fiddle is a salty-tongued truck driver, with a edgy, deep voice. And she won't play anything in B-flat. The fiddle player in the middle was a craggy looking old codger, but when he started to sing an old cowboy ballad, out came the sweetest, purist tenor voice you could imagine.
About fifteen minutes north of Mountain View is a state park which we found to be a pleasant day trip - Blanchard Springs. I have a separate VT page for Blanchard Springs, but wanted readers to know that it is easily accessible from Mountain View. To summarize, the park includes a scenic three-level cavern, a gushing spring, swimming in a crystal clear mountain stream, fishing, hiking, mountain bike trails, and more.
Located on the edge of Mountain View is a wonderful state-owned facility at which Nancy and I enjoyed almost a full day - the Ozark Folk Center. This entertaining park is dedicated to preserving the traditional culture of the Ozarks. Visit with a number of craftsmen, artists and musicians as they bring history to life. There are some hands-on activities (for children, especially).
For more on the Ozark Folk Center, see my Travelogue (now under construction).
on the downtown square, all day and night during any season when the weather is tolerable, you will find many groups of musicians jamming with each other. even if you do not play an instrument, you will enjoy wandering around listening. there are public restrooms on the north side of the square and several food stands where you can get hot dogs, ice cream, soft drinks, etc.
The Dulcimer Shoppe is more than just a music and gift store. It is also where McSpadden dulcimers (both lap and hammered varieties), autoharps, and bowed psaltries are hand made by superb craftsmen.