Mountain View – Folk Music Capital

We stayed one week in the little town of Mountain View, located in north central Arkansas in the Ozark mountains.   The town calls itself the folk music capital of the world and comes by the name legitimately as far as I am concerned.  This town is all about music – there are regular music jams around the court house and at the downtown picking park, often on a daily basis.  There are musical shows in the evenings at different venues and the town hosts music related festivals throughout the year.  Below is a picture of the “picking park” with gazebos to sit under while playing.  Unfortunately during our stay, the cool weather was usually not conducive to outdoor gatherings.

Many of the RV parks in town have a few music jams weekly, during the days or evenings.  When we checked into our park, we were given a list of activities which included dulcimer jams on Monday nights, potluck supper on Tuesday nights and jam sessions on Wednesday and Thursday mornings.  The park where we stayed has a “picking shed” where they hold their music jams and other get togethers including a musical church service on Sunday mornings.

The dulcimer jam on Monday night featured a few musicians from the RV park as well as the town.  It was great to hear them play.  I tried to encourage Mark to bring his mandolin and join in but he always says he needs to practice more first.

There are often impromptu jam sessions in the office.  While taking out the trash one day Mark heard them playing so we both came over to listen.   The office was crowded with pickers so we rocked on the porch and listened.

Mark and I made a trip to the local dulcimer shop which is well known throughout the U.S. for making fine mountain dulcimers.   Mark tried out a few with help from the dulcimer maker.   He wound up buying a beautiful cherry wood dulcimer and at this time is learning to play.  It is quiet and a great instrument to have in a trailer.

The Ozark Folk Center State Park is probably the best thing about Mountain View.  The park features old time crafters as well as multiple music venues.  I will first talk about the crafters who are located in little shops throughout the park property demonstrating their crafts.  My favorite was the copper colorist who creates patterns and colors on copper with only his torch flame.  The flame makes the many colors by the number of times the heat is applied and how long it is applied.   He has been working on this unique technique for over 30 years.

It was fascinating watching him work and explain the details.  Below is the finished hummingbird he was working on in the above picture.  I couldn’t resist taking it home.

The Folk Center has a number of other crafters on site so it takes awhile to visit them all.  Crafters include: A blacksmith, spinner, cooper, quilter, potter, broom maker, candle maker, toy maker, wood carver, doll maker, knife maker, printer, soap maker and herbalist.   Luckily we were there during a less busy time in the fall so it was easier to see the shops.  So much nicer than our experience at Silver Dollar City.

The printer demonstrated a press that uses handset metal type and a foot powered press that is over 100 years old.  You can buy some neat cards made on the press.

The quilt shop was probably the most attractive and colorful of the shops with so many quilts displayed around.

There is only one animal at the park and he is usually busy pulling an old fashioned swing for the kids.  On this quiet day he was all by his lonesome when I found him.  I have always had a soft spot for donkeys.

The Center has a number of historic cabins and other buildings that were moved and displayed here.  In the picture below, this building from 1870 was used as a school in the late 1920’s and early 1930’s.  The walls are original, but the floor had to be replaced by the park.

Music is big at the Folk Center and they have a large auditorium and shows three nights a week.  One reason we chose this particular RV park is that the campground is located right next door to the Ozark Folk Center.  It was a short walk from our trailer through the gate to the auditorium.

We went to shows here three nights in a row.   The shows always start off with square dancing.

The last night was an awards ceremony which concludes the folk center season for the year.   It was very interesting to see how the Mountain View community gathers together to celebrate and encourage their musicians.  They are especially fond of their young musicians.

There is a musical program at the schools here called “Roots.”  The program was developed to keep mountain music alive through the generations.  Students are loaned an instrument and receive group lessons, all at no cost.  The kids play amazingly well.  Below is one of the groups that performed during the show while couples waltzed in the background.

Since Mark and I love music including folk and bluegrass, Mountain View was a great place to be for a short while.  Perhaps we will be back for one of their festivals or for more mountain music!

Thanks for reading!  When Mark heard about our next destination he said, “We are driving to a place to see hot water?”

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