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									                  Arkansas Festivals of the Land
                     Lesson Plan by Sherry J. Tipps, Conway, Arkansas
                                 2001-2002 Butler Fellow
       Revised 2007-08 School Year Utilizing 2006 Social Studies Frameworks Including
       2007 Arkansas History Amendments and 2007 School Library Media Frameworks

Practically every community celebrates something. These celebrations often take the form
of an annual festival. Often, these community festivals are closely tied to the land and the
natural heritage or the history people find important in their areas.
        In this lesson students will research Arkansas community festivals that are closely
tied to the land. They will then create brochures that examine the festival from a
geographic/historical prospective and share their information with the class. This lesson
can be introduced in one class period. Research, development, and presentation of
brochures will take additional class periods. If students request research material from
a chamber of commerce or a state agency, such as the Department of Parks and Tourism,
allow adequate time for delivery.

Grades:               7th – 8th

Arkansas Curriculum Frameworks:

Arkansas History Student Learning Expectations:
G.1.AH.7-8.1        Compare and contrast the six geographical land regions of
                    * Ozark Mountains (plateau)
                    * Ouachita Mountains
                    * Arkansas River Valley
                    * Mississippi Alluvial Plain
                    * Crowley’s Ridge
                    * West Gulf Coastal Plain

G.1.AH.7-8.5          Examine the economic effect of Arkansas’ natural resources
                      * diamonds
                      * bauxite
                      * forestry products
                      * oil

W.7.AH.7-8.2          Explore the effects of tourism on the economy
                      * Hot Springs
                      * Ozarks
                      * Murfreesboro diamond mines

WWP.9.AH.7-8.6        Examine the economic development of Arkansas after World War II

School Library Media Student Learning Expectations:
A.4.7.1, A.4.8.1 – Use resources and/or technology tools for a predetermined task

A.3.7.1, A.3.8.1 – Practice organizational strategies to record and synthesize information
Encyclopedia of Arkansas Entries:
Arts, Culture, and Entertainment; Hope Watermelon Festival; John Huddleston Day;

Key Terms Defined:
festival: A celebration that commemorates something important in the culture of a people,
usually marked by feasting, activities, music, ceremonies, and other observances.

natural heritage: The plants, animals, and natural communities that have persisted in an
area over a long period of time.

culture: The way of life of a group of people.

cultural tradition: An activity or behavior that is passed down from generation to

The teacher will select the appropriate student learning expectations for his or her class, review
the key terms, and make copies of selected activities included in the lesson. Collaboration with
the school library media specialist for assistance with the utilization of the technology resource
tool for Arkansas History is suggested. See above links or visit the online Encyclopedia of
Arkansas History and Culture at http://www.encyclopediaofarkansas.net.

   • Access to computer lab for researching online Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and
      Optional: “Celebrating Arkansas,” an AETN-produced video on Arkansas festivals,
      available from AETN (http://www.aetn.org; see
      http://www.aetn.org/celebratingarkansas/ for more information)
      A copy of Arkansas Festivals with Connections to the Land for each student
      (included below)
      A copy of the Toad Suck Daze Festival (Sample Brochure) for each student
      (included below)
      A copy of the Arkansas’ Six Natural Divisions map for each student (included below)
      One Arkansas State Highway Map (free from the Arkansas State Highway and
      Transportation Dept., Map Sales, PO Box 2261, Little Rock, AR 72203-2261 /
      (501) 569-2444)
      White copy paper for making brochures
Day One: Class Discussion
1. Ask students if they have ever attended a festival somewhere in Arkansas. Define the
word festival and give a local example of a festival with which students may be familiar.
(You could even find some pictures of a local festival to show the class.)

2. Ask students what was being celebrated in that particular festival and why did the
community choose to celebrate this. Explain that—other than the “fun” aspect of festivals—
we can often learn much about the natural heritage, geography, and history of a community
or area by what its people choose to celebrate.

3. Optional: Tell students you are going to show the opening segment of the AETN video
entitled “Celebrating Arkansas.” Explain that it shows the Toad Suck Daze Festival in
Conway. After viewing the video segment, discuss the following questions.
        Q: What is the relative location of Conway, and in what natural division is it located?
        Conway is located in western Faulkner County about 30 miles northwest of Little
Rock on Interstate 40. It is in the Arkansas River Valley natural division and practically on
the Arkansas River.

       Q: What activities are part of the Toad Suck Daze Festival?
       A: Toad races on Toad Suck Square in downtown Conway; carnival rides; musical
performances; and the selling of food, crafts, and other festival items.

       Q: What is the history of the Toad Suck Daze Festival, and how is this connected to
the land and culture of the area?
       A: The festival began in the 1980s at Toad Suck Ferry Lock and Dam. It celebrates
early Arkansas River culture. In the 1800s taverns operated along the Arkansas River, often
near ferries that crossed the river. Thirsty travelers were said to suck up so much liquor at
the taverns they swelled like toads.

Day Two Activities: Festival Brochures:
1. Tell the class that Arkansas has many festivals that reflect the cultural traditions of the
places where they are held. Many festivals in Arkansas can be traced to the land or our
natural heritage in some way.

2. Give each student a copy of Arkansas Festivals with Connections to the Land (included
below). Tell them they are each going to research an Arkansas festival from this list and
then create an informational brochure for their festival based on their research.

3. Give each student a tri-folded copy of Toad Suck Daze Festival (Sample Brochure)
(included below). Go over the inside format that they will use to create their own brochures.
Explain that the outsides of their brochures can be filled with fancy lettering, artwork, the
date(s) of the festival, and other items of their choosing.

4. Give each student a copy of Arkansas’ Six Natural Divisions (included below). They can
use this map and the Arkansas State Highway Map to plot the location of their festival and
identify its natural division.
5. Have students research their festivals and prepare their brochures on white copy paper.
Possible sources of information are the Internet (see especially the “Calendar of Events” on
http://www.arkansas.com, which is searchable and has links to the homepages of many
festivals), books (see “Sources” below), chambers of commerce, and the Arkansas
Department of Parks and Tourism in Little Rock. Students’ brochures can be either hand-
written or computer-printed.

6. After students have finished their brochures, allow them time to share them in class.
Their brochures can also be displayed in the classroom. If you wish, the class can also
create a festival map on a bulletin board showing the locations of their festivals in Arkansas.
Students can plot their festivals on the map as part of their presentations.

Festival brochures and presentations will demonstrate what students have learned about
festivals connected to the land in Arkansas.

As a class, plan an Arkansas festival that represents the place where you live or that
combines several aspects of different regions of Arkansas. This could include inviting
craftspeople to demonstrate their work and other activities. Be sure to include music and

Sources/Suggested Research Materials:
Arkansas Educational Television Network (AETN). Celebrating Arkansas (video). 2001.

Earngey, Bill. Arkansas Roadsides: A Guidebook for the State. Little Rock: East Mountain
Press, 1987.

Foti, Thomas and Gerald Hanson. Arkansas and the Land. Fayetteville: University of
Arkansas Press, 1992.

Smith, Richard M. The Atlas of Arkansas. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 1989.

    These lesson plans are made possible in part through the support of the Arkansas
  Humanities Council, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Arkansas Natural
   Heritage Commission, and the Bridge Fund at the Arkansas Community Foundation.

     The Taylor Foundation (Little Rock, Arkansas) makes Butler Center lesson plans possible.
 Contact the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies, Central Arkansas Library System, 100 Rock St., Little
            Rock, AR, 72201. 501-918-3056 www.butlercenter.org and www.cals.lib.ar.us
        Arkansas Festivals with Connections to the Land
Altus, Wiederkehr Weinfest
Bismark, Eagles Et Cetera Weekend Festival
Clarksville, Johnson County Peach Festival
Dermott, Crawfish Festival
Des Arc, Steamboat Festival
Fordyce on the Cotton Belt Festival
Gillette, Gillette Coon Supper
Gould, Turtle Derby Festival
Hazen, Prairie County Rice Festival
Heber Springs, Greers Ferry Lake Water Festival
Hope, Watermelon Festival
Lincoln, Arkansas Apple Festival
Malvern, Brickfest
Mount Ida, Quartz Crystal Festival
Murfreesboro, John Huddleston Day Diamond Festival
Paris, Arkansas Championship Grape Stomp and Cowie Wine Fest
Parkin, Riverboat Festival
Sheridan, Timberfest Smackover, Oil Town Festival
Stuttgart, Wings Over the Prairie Festival
Tontitown, Grape Festival
Trumann: Trumann Wild Duck Festival
War Eagle, War Eagle Mill and Crafts Festival
Warren, Bradley County Pink Tomato Festival
Washington, Jonquil Festival
Weiner, Arkansas Rice Festival
Yellville, Turkey Trot Festival

          Festival Geography                              Festival History                               Festival Culture

City or town: Conway                            The Toad Suck Daze Festival is a            Festival Activities: When you visit the
                                             celebration of Arkansas River culture. In      Toad Suck Daze Festival you will see
County: Faulkner                             the early years of European settlement in      actual toad races at Toad Suck Square in
                                             Arkansas—the early 1800s—a network of          downtown Conway. The entire downtown
Descriptive Location: Conway is located in   taverns operated along the Arkansas            area is filled with craft booths, carnival
western Faulkner County about 30 miles       River. Ferries often carried travelers         rides, food vendors, and musical
northwest of Little Rock on Interstate 40.   across the river at these points. It was       performances.
                                             often said that the travelers visiting these
Natural Division: Conway is located in the   taverns sucked up so much liquor that          Cultural and economic benefit: The
beautiful Arkansas River Valley natural      they swelled like toads! This is where         festival fosters a sense of community and
division, which lies between the Ozark       Toad Suck Ferry and the festival got their     connection to the Arkansas River while
Plateau and the Ouachita Mountains           names.                                         raising awareness of local culture. Toad
natural divisions. The Arkansas River                                                       Suck Daze is also a boon to the area’s
Valley extends from Little Rock to Fort              Toad Suck Daze began in the            economy. It brings thousands of people
Smith and is about 40 miles wide. It is a    1980s at Toad Suck Ferry Lock and Dam          to Conway each year; they spend money
fertile farming area and contains            on the Arkansas River. Today the festival      at the festival and local gas stations,
Arkansas’ highest point, Mount Magazine.     is held in downtown Conway.                    restaurants, stores, etc. Craft and food
                                                                                            vendors benefit directly from the festival. It
                                                                                            also raises money for scholarships to
                                                                                            Conway’s three colleges.
                        Arkansas’ Six Natural Divisions

Adapted from Foti, Thomas and Gerald T. Hanson. Arkansas and the Land. Fayetteville: University
                               of Arkansas Press, 1992, p. 36.

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