111th Tontitown Grape Festival


Singer-songwriters, Joey and Rory from Nashville,

will perform a free concert at 9p.m. Tuesday

111 th Tontitown Grape Festival

It’s called the Grape Festival, but to most it means spaghetti. Homemade pasta prepared weeks in advance before it is smothered with that famous festival Marinara.

The festival that began 111 years ago in the Italian community of Tonitown, just north of Fayetteville, began as a harvest celebration. Today, it is a five-day event that features a carnival, music, an arts and crafts fair, a used book sale and the naming of Queen Concordia.

The festival opens on Tuesday, but the spaghetti won’t be ready until Aug. 6.

Tuesday and Wednesday the festival, including the carnival, is open from 4:30 p.m. until midnight. On Tuesday, there will be free entertainment by Kelly Road at 7 p.m. and Joey and Rory at 9 p.m. On Wednesday, Meagan White and Company will play at 7 p.m. followed by Highway 101 at 9 p.m.

The first chance to chow down on the pasta will be from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. Aug. 6. Dinners will be served during those same hours Aug. 7-8.

On Aug. 6, the hours expand from 9 a.m. to midnight. Highlights will be the used book sale, the arts and crafts fair and music by Jason Strode & On the Run at 7 p.m. and Mark Wills at 9 p.m.

Events continue on Aug. 7, with musical performances by NAMA award winners Maud Crawford at 7 p.m. and The Paul Amstutz Band at 9:30 p.m. Queen Concordia will be crowned at 9 p.m.

Aug. 8 activities will kickoff at 7 a.m. with the Run for the Grapes 5K Walk and Run followed by the activities of the previous two days. Entertaining will be Kyla Horon at 6 p.m., One Night Stand at 7 p.m. and Ty Herndon at 9 p.m.

This year, there will be a look into the history of Tontitown. Susan Young, the outreach coordinator of the Shiloh Museum in Springdale has a new book, “So Big, This Little Place: The Founding of Tontitown, Arkansas, 1898-1917” and will sign copies of the new book from 4 to 10 p.m. Aug. 6-8. The book features more than 100 historic photographs from the Tontitown Museum archives and includes a genealogical register of Tontitown’s early Italian families.

“Tontitown is a unique story in Arkansas, and national, history,” Young said.  “Founded in 1898 by Father Pietro Bandini, an Italian Catholic priest, and some 40 Italian families who had been working on a plantation in south Arkansas, Tontitown began garnering local, state, and national attention within a few years of its establishment. Father Bandini envisioned Tontitown as the ‘model of successful Italian immigration.” The 117-page hardback is $30 and all proceeds will go to support the Tontitown Historical Museum.

First Thursday

Fayetteville’s “First Thursday,” an event organized to bring us working stiffs to downtown on the first Thursday evening of each month, is expanding. For the past few months, the ddp gallery and the Fayetteville Underground gallery have accounted for most of the action, but for the Aug. 6 event, the galleries are pumping it up even more and some of the downtown businesses are getting involved, too. This time, there will be a free outdoor movie and a hot new band.

Guta, a smoking hot new band on the Fayetteville scene is set to play, compliments of Fayetteville’s  Sound Warehouse. Guta is Teddy Sablon (guitar and vocals), Christian Mara (drums) with Drew Packard (Fayetteville Funk Ensemble) on bass. Guta was originally formed in North Carolina and has made a name for themselves by touring the East Coast for nearly a decade.

According to Randy Thomas of Sound Warehouse, Guta has been featured in Billboard and was by ranked number one by Relix magazine in its 10 Best Kept Secrets list. Thomas said that Sablon described the band as a bit like Paul Simon meets Bob Dylan meets Bob Marley meets The Grateful Dead meets Steely Dan. Thomas said Sablon is an excellent songwriter and adds greater depth to a band that is tight and very musically gifted. Guta will perform from 6 to 8 p.m. on the Town Center Plaza.

After Guta’s performances, the new family film “War Eagle,” which was shot in Arkansas, will be shown on the Town Center Plaza. Bring seating.

New exhibits will be opening at the ddp gallery and the Fayetteville Underground gallery. Gallery hours are 5 to 8 p.m.

All of the activities are free.


Sweet Can Circus

San Francisco’s Sweet Can Circus is coming to the Walton Arts Center for four shows in the smaller, 200-seat Starr Theater.

The eight performers travel with a four-piece band that adds extra oomph to the fetes of skill performed on trapeze, aerial silks and slack rope. The performers walk on their hands, mailboxes levitate and old trash cans become the unexpected. It’s fun for all ages. Performances at 7 p.m. today, Friday and Saturday and a matinee at 2 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $20.50.

Categories: Features