The Arts & Science Center for Southeast Arkansas received a major grant from the Arkansas Humanities Council to host the inaugural Crossroad Festival: Exploring Jefferson County’s Cultural Heritage in February.
The festival, which is free and open to the public, will be held from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday, Feb. 22-23, and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 24.
The Crossroad Festival will explore the region’s French, Quapaw Indian, and African American cultural heritage from its historic roots to contemporary iterations through the interpretive lens of film, music, dance, and living history, according to a press release.
Events will include:
Thursday, Feb. 22, 6:30–8:30 p.m.:
Through film and discussion, the arts center will explore the region’s French cultural heritage from Colonial era Arkansas Post and the immigrants from Arkansas’ first European establishment which settled in Jefferson County to the evident cultural influences early immigration to the Mississippi River Valley region had on the diversity and development of contemporary Cajun and Creole music.
“Join us for a screening of the recent documentary, First Cousins: Cajun and Creole Music of South Louisiana, followed by a panel discussion featuring Dr. Moriah Istre (filmmaker) and Dr. Elista Istre (film producer) from Arkansas State University’s Heritage Studies PhD Program,” according to the release.
Friday, Feb. 23, 6:30 pm – 8:30 p.m.:
The festival will celebrate the achievements of Jefferson County-associated music legends “Big Bill” Broonzy, Sippie Wallace, Miles Davis, and Bobby Rush, who all helped shape the sounds of the Delta. The event will include live performances by the Brian Austin Band, Detroit Johnny, and Milt Jackson & friends, narrated by Jimmy Cunningham of the Delta Rhythm & Bayous Alliance, according to the release.
Saturday, Feb. 24, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.:
From 10 a.m. to noon Feb. 24, the festival will be dedicated to dance performances, traditional crafts and foodways demonstrations by members of the Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma in the Catherine M. Bellamy Theatre at the arts center. Throughout the morning, traditional craft demonstrations will be set up in the center’s galleries and outside on the patio, traditional food will be prepared for attendees. Additionally, exhibit panels detailing the Quapaw’s presence in Jefferson County, (such as land treaty negotiations, Chief Heckaton, legend of Saracen and archeological records), will be on display during the entire Saturday event.
From 1–3 p.m. Feb. 24 there will be a living history program on prominent African American residents of Jefferson County by the Arkansas based, living history group, Voices in the Past, in the Bellamy Theatre. The group will interpret the stories of several of Pine Bluff and Jefferson County’s artists, musicians, and business people, as well as WPA slave narratives collected from Jefferson County, according to the release.
The festival is supported in part by a grant from the Arkansas Humanities Council and National Endowment for the Humanities.
“The Arts & Science Center for Southeast Arkansas’ mission is to serve as a cultural crossroad: engaging, educating, and entertaining through the arts and sciences,” according to the release.
Located at 701 S. Main St., the center is open Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday from 1–4 p.m. Gallery admission is free. Rachel M. Miller, PhD, is the executive director at the center. Details: www.asc701.org or 870-536-3375.