ArtRageous In Eureka: Old faves, new fun come with return of May festival

ArtRageous In Eureka: Old faves, new fun come with return of May festival

Executive Director Kelly McDonough might be understating the situation when she says Eureka Springs School of the Arts “has been extremely fortunate to have come through the pandemic with great momentum.”

“We have added new members to our team and expanded and improved our facilities to support robust programming both on campus and in the community,” says McDonough. “ESSA is also expanding our artist-in-residence program, and we intend to continue to grow that program significantly over the next few years. Our artists-in-residence will add vibrancy to our regional arts community by engaging with area artists and craftspeople, visiting schools and interacting with the public.

“We are also in the process of visioning the next phase of growth for the school, and there are many exciting developments on the horizon,” she adds. “Our next step in campus development is renovation of an aging home on our property to create a communal space for visiting instructors, small events and other gatherings.”

McDonough has been executive director of ESSA since April of 2017, moving from Austin, Texas, to be closer to family and as a bonus finding a good fit for her background in nonprofit management and grants administration. What she connected with was “an art and craft school offering workshops for adults of any skill level, whether they are total beginners or seasoned practitioners,” she explains. “Workshops range from one to five days, and topics include woodworking, blacksmithing, ceramics, painting, drawing, jewelry making and many, many more,” all taught on a 50-acre campus with seven dedicated teaching studios for iron working, woodturning, woodworking, ceramics, small metals, leather working, and a multi-use studio. “Recently added are four duplex cottages for visiting instructors who come from all over the country to teach at ESSA, and to provide housing for our growing artist-in-residence program,” McDonough adds.

So why would ESSA commit as the new — and permanent — sponsor of one of the favorite events of the Eureka Springs Festival of the Arts in May?

“One of the best things about the ArtRageous parade is that anything goes,” McDonough says. “Everyone is welcome — floats, classic cars, performers, musicians, walkers in crazy costumes, and anyone who is inspired by the ArtRageous spirit. This parade is so beloved in Eureka that we have had a great deal of help and support! [And] ESSA has always loved participating.”

A grassroots effort that dates back to the beginning of the May festival, the parade, McDonough says, was passed from hand to hand, and “it wasn’t always clear who was going to carry this beloved tradition forward. [So] ESSA decided to step up and take over the organizing role permanently.”

The parade, scheduled for 2 p.m. May 7, is part of a mix of old favorite events — particularly the White Street Walk, which will return May 20 — and brand new events like Just So Ozarks, which “focuses on interactive arts projects for kids,” according to Sandy Martin, chairwoman of the Eureka Springs Arts Council and co-producer of the festival with the City Advertising and Promotion Commission. The month will also feature art walks; the Bridge of Love, an interactive Mother’s Day tribute; the Sipping on Words Poetry event presented by the Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow; the Plein Air Festival sponsored by Statton Gallery; and lots of music, including a May 7 concert by the Little River Band at the Eureka Springs City Auditorium.

“The ArtRageous Parade is a hit with all ages and has been a destination magnet for many families – so we’re really glad that’s back,” Martin enthuses. “My favorite part is seeing our visitors’ interaction with our local artists and the expression on their faces during the parade.”

Martin says when the Eureka Springs Festival of the Arts started 35 years ago “it was the official kick-off of the tourist season. But since we have become a year-round tourist destination, it has become a tradition celebrating the town’s culture and history [as] the first authentic arts village in the state.” It’s especially gratifying, she says, to be able to show off what Eureka Springs did to keep the spirit of the festival alive during the pandemic, including an interactive app for touring the springs of Eureka and the Enchanted Fairy Doors project.

“The Fairy Doors started as part of our public art projects during covid,” she explains. “The intent was to give folks a fun experience and to get them walking through town. It caught on like wildfire with other artists wanting to do more and visitors adding to the existing ones. We started out in 2021 with 36 doors and now have over 110! There are also two new public art installations continuing our work to build the Harmon Park Art Trail.”

McDonough says the best reason to support the festival — and the ArtRageous parade — is simple: It’s “a chance to celebrate the uniqueness of our community and show visitors from the region and beyond the creative spirit that makes Eureka Springs so special. And after two years of a global pandemic, the return of the ArtRageous parade is a celebration of our hope in the future and a chance to come together!”



ArtRageous Parade

WHEN — 2 p.m. May 7

WHERE — The parade route begins on Spring Street near the Post Office and ends just past Basin Park in Eureka Springs

COST — Free

INFO — and click on ArtRageous under the Events tab



May Fest Events

Art Walks — Every Saturday, 5-8 p.m.

Bridge of Love — A Mother’s Day living art installation, May 5-8, underneath the Main Street Air Bridge (Basin Bath House Bridge).

ArtRageous Parade — 2 p.m. May 7, downtown Eureka Springs.

Little River Band — 7:30 p.m. May 7, Eureka Springs City Auditorium. Tickets $45 & up at the

Eureka Springs Plein Air Festival — With more than 60 artists from across the country coming together for four days of intense plein air painting, May 10-14, around Eureka Springs.

White Street Walk — Visit artists’ studios and meet makers from 4 to 10 p.m. May 20 along White Street.

Dogwood Corner’s Art Extravaganza — Featuring literary, culinary, visual and musical arts, May 21-22 at 3 Dogwood Ridge.

Just So Ozarks Festival — Two days of music, workshops and performing arts for the family, May 28-29 around Eureka Springs. Find out more at

Harmon Park Art Trail Festival — May 29 at Harmon Park.

Visit for more information.

Categories: Family Friendly