Scenes from the early Ozark Folk Festivals, ca. 1950. From the Otto Ernest Rayburn Collection (MS R19), University of Arkansas Special Collections.
Since joining the UofA Special Collections, I’ve wanted to do something to celebrate the history of the Ozark Folk Festival in Eureka Springs. It is one of the oldest, longest running folk festivals in North America, predating nearly all of the more famous festivals on the east coast, established in 1948. The festival happens each fall in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, one of the most unique and fascinating cities in America, in addition to being the heart of the Ozarks. (And capital of Mid-South Gay Pride!)
These images are from a small part of writer, entrepreneur, folklorist, and all-around Ozark booster, Otto Ernest Rayburn’s “Ozark Encyclopedia.” The encyclopedia is a bizarre and wonderfully obsessive scrapbook of all things Ozark, available as a manuscript in Special Collections. I hope to digitize all of the photos of the festival from Rayburn and other collections, along with everything related to the War Eagle Craft Fair, in celebration of the Ozark’s long tradition…of celebrating itself…as well as oddity and idiosyncrasy.