Anticipation: The coming year offers plenty of promise for arts lovers

Anticipation: The coming year offers plenty of promise for arts lovers
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


As we approach the end of 2021 with more pandemic uncertainty than ever, it can be hard to muster even a little bit of optimism for the coming new year. So we put on our rose-colored glasses and scoured the schedules of some of our best local arts and culture institutions for performing and visual art events we’re looking forward to. Chin up: no matter what covid-19 might unleash on us, there are definitely some wonderful things to get excited about in 2022.


The Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art exhibit “In American Waters: The Sea in American Painting” opened in November, but you still have all of January to take it in. “For over 250 years, artists have been inspired to capture the beauty, violence, poetry, and transformative power of the sea in American life,” reads the description of the exhibit on Crystal Bridges’ website. “Oceans play a key role in American society no matter where we live, and still today, the sea continues to inspire painters to capture its mystery and power. ‘In American Waters’ is a new exhibition in which marine painting is revealed to be so much more than ship portraits. Be transported across time and water on the wave of a diverse range of modern and historical artists including Georgia O’Keeffe, Amy Sherald, Kay WalkingStick, Norman Rockwell, Hale Woodruff, Paul Cadmus, Thomas Hart Benton, Jacob Lawrence, Valerie Hegarty, Stuart Davis, and many more. Discover the sea as an expansive way to reflect on American culture and environment, learn how coastal and maritime symbols moved inland across the United States, and consider what it means to be ‘in American waters.’”

$12 for adults, free for those age 18 and younger

600 Museum Way, Bentonville

657-2335 or


In February, the Arkansas Public Theatre will present the rollicking musical “Something Rotten,” a show the Chicago Tribune called “especially rewarding and amusing for people who know Broadway musicals better than their own children” and “the kind of romp that allows you to switch off your brain, drink a glass of wine and let it Brexit you off for a couple of escapist hours.”

“Welcome to the Renaissance and the outrageous, crowd-pleasing musical farce set in the 1590s,” reads the APT website. “Brothers Nick and Nigel Bottom are desperate to write a hit play but are stuck in the shadow of that Renaissance rock star known as ‘The Bard.’ When a local soothsayer foretells that the future of theater involves singing, dancing and acting at the same time, Nick and Nigel set out to write the world’s very first musical. But amidst the scandalous excitement of opening night, the Bottom brothers realize that reaching the top means being true to thine own self, and all that jazz. Throughout its Broadway run, the musical received a show-stopping standing ovation from audiences… in the beginning of the first act! It’s become clear that ‘nothing’s as amazing as a musical.’”

Feb 11-13, 17-20 and 24-27

116 S. Second St. in Rogers



When “Hamilton” opened on Broadway in spring 2015, it was an immediate critical and popular hit — the show set a record for highest number of Tony nominations at 16 and racked up 11 wins. The New York Times review called it “a theatrical landmark that has transformed theater and the way we think about history.” Northwest Arkansans will get the opportunity to see the national touring production at the Walton Arts Center in March.

“‘Hamilton’ is the story of America then, told by America now,” reads the description on the Walton Arts Center website. “Featuring a score that blends hip-hop, jazz, R&B and Broadway, ‘Hamilton’ has taken the story of American founding father Alexander Hamilton and created a revolutionary moment in theater — a musical that has had a profound impact on culture, politics and education. With book, music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, direction by Thomas Kail, choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler, and musical supervision and orchestrations by Alex Lacamoire, ‘Hamilton’ is based on Ron Chernow’s acclaimed biography. It has won Tony, Grammy and Olivier Awards, the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and an unprecedented special citation from the Kennedy Center Honors.”

March 22-April 3

495 W. Dickson St. in Fayetteville



In April, Morgan Hicks will direct the wildly creative musical “Ride the Cyclone” for the University of Arkansas Theatre. “As irreverent as it is accomplished, ‘Ride the Cyclone’ does the job of any good amusement-park attraction: It makes you consider your mortality, but leaves you grinning ear to ear,” wrote UA graduate Kris Vire in his review for Time Out Chicago.

“In this hilarious and outlandish story, the lives of six teenagers from a Canadian chamber choir are cut short in a freak accident aboard a roller coaster,” reads the description on the UA website.

April 8-17

Global Campus, 2 E. Center St. in Fayetteville



The groundbreaking exhibit “Architecture at Home” at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art seeks to inspire conversations about — and solutions to — some of Northwest Arkansas’ thorniest housing issues. Five international architecture firms, including studioSUMO, Levenbetts, Mutuo, PPAA, Studio:indigenous, are contributing to the conversation.

“Architecture at Home, Crystal Bridges’ first architecture exhibition, brings together five prototypes for homes to spark a dialogue about contemporary housing,” reads a Crystal Bridges’ press release. “Through research, interviews, and innovative thinking, five architecture firms based across the Americas designed and fabricated 500-square-foot prototypes for a contemporary house to be displayed in the exhibition. Overall, this exhibition helps us better understand how architecture affects our lives, determine what makes a house a home, and celebrate the artistry in building and shelter.”

May 7-Nov. 7

600 Museum Way in Bentonville

657-2335 or


Two big events in June have us excited: first, the “Live in America” event at the Momentary.

“The Live in America Festival is a free, two-week-long festival of live performance and cultural practice featuring more than 300 artists from a diverse array of communities across the U.S., its territories, and Mexico,” reads the Momentary website. “The festival gathers artists and thinkers from across America’s distinctive cultural landscape to share and celebrate the power of communities in performance. The festival features artists and performances from the following communities: Las Vegas; Ciudad Juárez, Mexico-El Paso, Texas border region; Northwest Arkansas; New Orleans; Sumter County, Alabama; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Detroit; and the Pueblo, Diné, Hopi, and Apache Nations of Albuquerque, in partnership with Indigenous peoples from across Turtle Island.”

June 1-12

507 S.E. E St. in Bentonville


June’s second big event is the Bentonville Film Fest, which will offer both virtual and in-person events this year.

“Entering its eighth year, the Bentonville Film Festival is a one-of-a-kind event that champions inclusion in all forms of media,” according to the organization’s website. “Chaired by Academy Award winner Geena Davis, BFF is a year-long platform culminating with an annual festival in partnership with founding sponsor Walmart and presenting sponsor Coca-Cola.

June 22-July 3

Various locations in Northwest Arkansas


In its review of the musical “Miss You Like Hell,” the New York Times says the show “offers two seriously rich roles for women, each with important things worth singing about,” and adds that it gives “super-chewy material to the actors in the leading roles.”

“When a whip-smart, deeply imaginative teenager agrees to take a road trip with her free-spirited Latina mother, neither can imagine where it will take them,” says TheatreSquared of the show they will produce in July. “Chance encounters with a medley of characters along the way brings them closer to understanding what sets them apart — and what connects them forever. [‘Miss You Like Hell’ is] a new musical with vast heart and fierce humor that exudes joy, frustration, and love of being a family in a changing America.”

June 1-July 17

477 W. Spring St. in Fayetteville


August and September

The AMP offers a one-two punch of summer concerts when they host Keith Urban on Aug. 18 and The Goo Goo Dolls on Sept. 18.

5079 W. Northgate Road in Rogers



October brings the fall edition of the Junk Ranch, Northwest Arkansas’ largest open-air flea market. With autumn ushering in cooler temperatures, it’s a lovely time to shop from the offerings of more than 150 vendors; with Christmas on the horizon, many of those vendors bring their best vintage Christmas to pick through. Though dates are not formally set yet, the fall show is almost always the first weekend of October.

11195 Centerpoint Church Road in Prairie Grove


November 2022 will mark the 14th year of the Fayetteville Film Fest, an event that started out as a small, grassroots effort. Today, it hosts dozens of films as well as workshops and panels.

“The Fayetteville Film Fest is a cultural leader in our region, bringing world class film to our state, developing meaningful relationships with filmmakers, and nurturing the art of filmmaking by uniting a community of creators and supporters,” reads the organization’s mission statement.

Dates TBD

At various locations around Fayetteville


There are other ways to end the year, but none so dazzling as the Fayetteville square’s Lights of the Ozarks display. The city of Fayetteville Parks and Recreation Department contributes 2,000 hours of manpower to fill the square with more than 500,000 LED lights; sweet treats and hot drinks top off the experience.

From Thanksgiving weekend through Jan 1, 2023

Fayetteville downtown square

Categories: Music