Summer Fun Just Begun: Camps, classes entertain Washington County kids

Summer Fun Just Begun: Camps, classes entertain Washington County kids
LARA JO HIGHTOWER/Special to the Free Weekly

On June 2 and 3, a huge field on the outskirts of Prairie Grove will hold the largest selection of open-air flea market booths in the Northwest Arkansas area. From polished antiques to funky vintage treasures to rusty farm finds, shoppers should be rewarded with just about anything they’re looking for at the Junk Ranch, which boasts 150 vendors and more than 200 booths.

We asked a few vendors what they’re bringing to the event, how they got involved in junking, and what their best find ever was.

Don Wilkinson

Don Wilkinson found his way to junking the way a lot of vendors do: he kept finding great stuff while shopping for his own collection of vintage Speas Vinegar bottles. So when he retired in his mid-50s after 35 years with the Arkansas Highway Department, he threw his hat into the flea market ring and got a booth at one of the largest flea markets in the country in Canton, Texas. After 10 years of selling at Canton, he moved up to an even bigger venue — Round Top, Texas, the Holy Grail of flea markets.

“It was a lot of work on my part,” he says. “We would haul seven or eight trailer loads down between shows, store them, and then we’d go down and set up and stay two weeks, selling. We sold to people from everywhere — California and everywhere. They got to buying from me, and they actually got to buying too much. It became too much of a job, and age took over.”

Wilkinson is 85 now, and he was thrilled when the Junk Ranch opened up so near his home in Mountainburg. Though the main product he sells are chicken laying houses — he estimates he’s sold around 30,000 over the course of his junking career — the booth he runs with his son is an eclectic mix of auction, estate and farm sale finds.

Wilkinson’s best find ever was deceptively simple: a box full of old bottle caps.

“I told my wife, ‘I found the Holy Grail,’” he remembers. “They were unused, cork-lined Dr Pepper bottle caps from 1907. The first bottle caps ever used on a Dr Pepper bottle.”

When he put them on eBay, he says, “people went crazy.”

Stacey Murphy

The Weathered Pearl

Stacey Murphy’s relationship with the Junk Ranch started off as a shopper.

“I loved the eclectic mix of old, used, collectible items and the vendor inspired pieces! I thought to myself, ‘I could do this,’” she recalls. “I applied the next year, and junk has been my livelihood ever since.”

Murphy advises yard sale shoppers to look for the signs with a torn piece of cardboard with the word “sale” scribbled across it as a marker.

“Often these sales are not advertised on social media, so it increases your chances of finding a hidden treasure,” she says.

She also hits the widely advertised sales, like the Oklahoma 100-mile Yard Sale. That’s where she found her favorite find: a 13-foot late 1800s banquet table discovered in a barn in Cleveland, Okla.

“I have done several shows all over Oklahoma and Arkansas, and I would say what sets the Junk Ranch apart from the others is the venue itself, the friendly vendors, the amazing shoppers, but most of all how well [Junk Ranch founders] Amy [Daniels] and Julie [Speed] have it organized,” Murphy says.

Tracy Davis

Rusty Heart Relics

“I have always loved old things as long as I can remember,” says Tracy Davis of Rusty Heart Relics. “My mama had an eye for the ornate and passed it along to me. We spent many a weekend traveling the roads for that elusive treasure.”

For her booth, she stocks a wide variety of items.

“I love vintage and antique garden items, primitive and antique furniture, and holiday decor,” she says. “I loved MCM before it was cool.”

Her favorite find is an antique child’s bedroom suite she found at the famed Texas flea market Round Top.

“It is a beautiful faded robin’s egg blue with a painted design, and it’s to die for,” she says.

Davis has had a love affair with the Junk Ranch since the first year.

“From the live music and food trucks to the mountains of treasures and lovely vendors, I knew this was the show that I wanted to be a part of,” she says. “Amy and Julie are the best and treat us like family.”



Junk Ranch

WHEN — 9 a.m.-3 pm. June 2; 9 a.m.-5 p.m. June 3; tickets go on sale at 8 a.m.

WHERE — 11195 Centerpoint Church Road in Prairie Grove

COST — $10


There’s no mistaking that kids who have navigated a year of pandemic protocols deserve a fun, relaxing summer. Luckily, a plethora of Northwest Arkansas area organizations are offering a wide variety of summer camps and workshops to fit every age group and interest area. Most organizations have some kind of covid-19 precautions in place; be sure to call for more details. And check with your local libraries, many of which will have special summer offerings.


Community Creative Center

505 W. Spring St.


Summer Art Camp Week 1-6 — 8:30 a.m.-3:30 a.m. June 7-11; June 14-18; June 21-25; June 28-July 2; July 12-16; July 19-23. Ages 7-12. $250/week. Each week-long immersive camp features rotations of fine art, craft, theater and dance.

Arts Live Theatre

818 N. Sang Ave.


Superheroes and Superpowers — 9 a.m.-12 p.m. June 7-11Ages 6-8$150Find your inner superhero in this week-long theater camp and create a Superpowers comic book. At the end of the week, show off your super powers in a Super Showcase at 10:30 and 11:30 a.m. June 11.

That Other Wizarding School — 1 -4 p.m. June 7-11Ages 9-12$200Cast a spell of laughter with this enchanting tale in this Arts Live Theatre original production. The camp will include performances at 4 and 6 p.m. June 11.

24 Hour Play Mania — 9 a.m.- 4 p.m. June 14-18Ages 13-18$300Learn the process and secrets of creating a successful play in 24 hours. The original 10-minute result will be performed at 4 and 6 p.m. June 18, the final day of camp.

101 Dalmations on a Mission — 9 a.m.-12 p.m. June 21-25Ages 6-8$150What shenanigans are these lovable pups up to? Find out as we explore and tell the story of “101 Dalmatians,” but with a twist as they are on a mission to save the day.

Comedy Improv University — 1-4 p.m. June 21-25Ages 13-18$200This hilarious week-long in person camp is focused on learning the tricks of the trade of short form comedy improv. And on the last day, there will be a live performance at the Arts Live Theatre Komedy Klub.

Shrek Musical Revue — 1-4 p.m. June 28-July 2Ages 9-12$200Campers will learn songs and dances from this family favorite musical and perform a revue the last day of camp for family and friends.

Peter Rabbit and Friends — 9 a.m.-12 p.m. June 28-July 2Ages 6-8$150As campers explore the world of Peter Rabbit, Flopsy, Mopsy, Cotton-tail and their friends, they’ll learn about friendship, family and more. We will also delve into a few crafts, play theater games and make friends in the process.

5 for 5 Filmmaking Camp — 9 a.m.-4 p.m. July 12-16Ages 13-18$300Create an original series of 5-minute episodes which will be written, rehearsed and filmed then published on the Arts Live Theatre YouTube Channel and Instgram TV. Space limited to 10 participants.

Parker the Pint-Sized Pirate — 9 a.m.-12 p.m. July 19-23Ages 9-12$200Parker wants to be real pirate, but the other pirates won’t let him because he’s too small. But while Parker may be small, he is brave and fearless and sets off to boldly go where no pirate has gone before — to the lair of the evil sea monster.

Create-A-Play — 1-4 p.m. July 19-23Ages 6-8$150The campers will work together to create an original play and share it on the last day of camp.

Escape Room Adventure — 9 a.m.-4 p.m. July 26-30Ages 13-18$300Adventure abounds as we create our own escape room with a theatrical theme and with theatrical flair. And we’ll create a mystery of our own to share the last day of camp.

The Magic Tree House Adventures — 9 a.m.-12 p.m. Aug. 2-6. Ages 6-8. $150. In this camp we’ll climb up to our imaginary treehouse and explore new adventures and on the final day of camp, share our experiences with an audience.

Hogwarts Academy — 1-4 p.m. Aug. 2-6. Ages 9-12. $150. Campers will be immersed in the fictional world of Harry Potter as they create potions, enjoy daily challenges and much more… Which house will you join?

The Teens of Mount Olympus — 1-4 p.m. Aug. 9-13Ages 13-18$200Another Arts Live Theatre original script comes to life in this camp where the gods are looking down upon their teenage sons and daughters as they navigate high school and life with Greek gods as their parents.

Create-A-Play — 9 a.m.-12 p.m. Aug. 9-13Ages 9-12$150The campers will work together to create an original play, then share it on the last day of camp.

Stage Movement (Virtual) — 1-2 p.m. June 7-11Ages 13-18$75This camp will cover the “ins and outs” of how to move easily and comfortably about the stage and the physical methods actors use to help with characterization.

Create-A-Play (Virtual) — 1-2 p.m. June 14-18Ages 6-8$75The campers will work together to create an original virtual play. On the last day of camp we will record our play and then post it ALT’s YouTube channel.

Our Stories (Virtual) — 9-10 a.m. June 21-25Ages 9-12$75The week will consist of campers writing and performing a theater piece based upon themselves.

Our Stories (Virtual) — 10-11 a.m. June 28-July 2Ages 13-18$75The week will consist of campers writing and performing a theater piece based upon themselves.

Once Upon a Time: Tell a Tale (Virtual) — 9-10 a.m. July 12-16Ages 6-8$75Each day campers will play theater games and explore how to create characters and retell a different, yet familiar, story each day.

Variety Show (Virtual) — 1-2 p.m. July 19-23Ages 9-12$75Calling all singers, dancers, acrobats, magicians, actors, musicians and more. Campers will create their own variety show which will be recorded the final day of camp and made available for viewing on the Arts Live Theatre YouTube channel.

Act Up (Virtual) — 1-2 p.m. Aug. 2-6Ages 13-18$75Learn how to read scripts for character clues and information for audition and performance and how to create meaningful and honest characters.

Virtual Adventures (Virtual) — 9-10 a.m. Aug. 9-13Ages 6-8$75Let’s create our own virtual characters in our own virtual story in our own virtual world. Anything goes as we explore all of the creative possibilities where the sky is the limit. The final project will be recorded and available for viewing on the Arts Live Theatre YouTube channel.


477 W. Spring, Fayetteville


Summer Shakespeare Academy — 10 a.m.-4 p.m. July 5-17Ages 14-17$300This summer day camp provides young theater lovers a two-week “total immersion” in the theatrical world of William Shakespeare.

Summerstage — Residential, July 24-31Rising 10th-12th gradersFree through AEGIS fundingThis prestigious eight-day residential program offers a unique exposure to nontraditional methodologies of creating theater. During the residential sessions, students work collaboratively as an ensemble to devise an original script that will be rehearsed for an end-of-session showcase.

Junior Shakespeare Camp — 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.Ages 10-13$150This creative camp is perfect for students who are new to theater as well as for those who are interested in further developing their skills.

Fayetteville Parks and Recreation


FPR has a host of week-long camps from June 7-Aug. 2 with the theme of “Be Active.” Many sessions end with a Friday showcase event that parents are encouraged to attend. $75-$80.


The Jones Center

922 E. Emma Ave., Springdale


The Jones Center offers an abundance of one-week skating and hockey camps and one cooking camp for kids of all ages. Call for pricing.

The Amazeum is offering a selection of one-day camps for kids ages 6-11 at the Jones Center. $40/Jones Center members; $50/non-members.

Trike Theatre’ “Trike Theatre Experience” Camp is a one-week camp offered at the Jones Center to students from Pre-K to 6th grade. $150/week.

Shiloh Museum of Ozark History

118 W. Johnson Ave.


The Shiloh Museum’s virtual online summer camp for ages 11 to 14 is set for 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. July 19-23. The theme is “Art in the Trades,” with a focus on artistic expression in occupations such as weaving, sewing, pottery, sculpting, woodworking, architecture, writing, painting, and photography. The life and work of historic Ozark tradespeople as well as members of modern-day Latinx and Marshallese communities will be explored. Camp is free of charge, but in order to receive a box of craft supplies, campers must be preregistered by July 2.

Come back to What’s Up! next week for Benton County camps and workshops.

Categories: Family Friendly