Autumn On Emma Avenue: Downtown Springdale celebrates Ozarktober

Autumn On Emma Avenue: Downtown Springdale celebrates Ozarktober
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


Downtown Springdale, a nonprofit formed in 2011 to help revitalize Springdale’s Emma Avenue and surrounding area, has big plans for the month of October. For the fifth year, the organization will be presenting a slate of events meant to usher in the fall season, as well as shine a light on what’s percolating in Springdale.

“First and foremost, our purpose is to make Springdale a vibrant space for people to work and live and gather,” says Kyra Ramsey, marketing director for the organization. She says the celebration is sponsored by Nabholz Construction. “Any opportunity that we have to fill our spaces, whether it be Turnbow Park or Shiloh Square or any of the properties within the downtown, we really want to do that. We want to elevate local artists and artisans and brewers — anybody who has a craft and is making something — we just really love the opportunity to be able to provide them with the space to do that and give the community a reason to come and see them.

“So probably first and foremost, [the goal is] to really just create a vibrant space for people to gather together and feel welcomed. And the fall is one of our favorite seasons. There’s so much beauty outdoors, it’s a beautiful time for people to come out and be in the outdoors, and it’s a safe way to be together right now.”

The organization has found a way to fill just about every nook and cranny of the weekends all month — and with the variety of events planned, it’s likely that just about everyone will be able to find something to anticipate.

Live! @ Turnbow Park

6-8 p.m. Oct. 7, 14, 21 & 28


Ramsey says live music will be presented at Turnbow Park every Thursday in the month of October. Watch the organization’s Facebook page for announcement of the acts that will be featured.

“This is such a lovely opportunity to listen to live music and local artists, all in the outdoor dining district,” says Ramsey. “People can grab a bite to eat and drink and bring a chair, maybe even a blanket if it’s cool by then, and enjoy live music outdoors.”

Presented by Engle and Volkers and the Tyson Family Foundation.

Fall Bonfire

6-9 p.m. Oct. 15


Located on the grounds of the Rodeo of the Ozarks, this nighttime celebration will feature a traditional bonfire, as well as music, children’s activities and food.

Sponsored by Nabholz Construction.

Brews and Tunes

3-8 p.m. Oct. 16


“This is going to be a really lovely event on the grounds of Natural State Rock and Republic, which is a really fantastic place,” says Ramsey. “It sits right on Huntsville Avenue and is now a cycling retreat managed by an incredible cyclist duo. They’ve converted the house into a bed and breakfast, and they have a fitness center where they can train and size you to bikes. They have all kinds of bike tours and trips that are challenging for the cyclist, but they also have these beautiful grounds, so we partner with them occasionally for events like this. We’re going to have live music and beer at their facility.”

Presented by the Tyson Family Foundation.

Art Walk

5-7 p.m. Oct. 7 & 28

This event offers the public a chance to “peruse the downtown art galleries, makers’ spaces, studios and antiques,” according to the organization.

“I am so excited about this one,” says Ramsey. “It features creatives who have spaces downtown — the artisans, the makers and the artists. We’re asking those participating to have their doors open during those days and times. Some of them will have something special going on, others will just have their doors open and will be able to explain what they do, and they might have a demonstration of their work being done.”

Presented by Baldwin and Shell.




Downtown Springdale’s Ozarktober features events throughout the month of October. For more information, visit or

Categories: Family Friendly