Prestigious poetry award-winners, storytellers, artists, musicians, cooks, conversationalists, train lovers, quilt makers, crafters and front porch hostesses are among the collaborators who will soon be filling the Pine Bluff/Jefferson County Library with an afternoon of free experiences.
Dubbed “Our Front Porch,” the program travels to Arkansas communities “with the purpose of creating a yearning for traditional front porch practices exemplified by hospitality and civil conversation,” according to a news release.
The event is open to the community from noon until 3 p.m. on Saturday, April 27.
Activities will be scattered throughout the library, on the “porch,” and outside.
The project is sponsored by the nonprofit agency Traveling Arts Fiesta. Executive director Jeannie Stone said that “Every event reflects the community and looks completely different, and our hope is that the conversations that begin at the library's front porch will continue through the myriad ways the collaborators already serve the community.”
The constant elements are the concept of the front porch, the hostesses, storytellers, and fine art that interprets themes of home and belonging.
Conversation circles will be located on the porch next to the tent and facilitated by members of several local churches, including Trinity and Grace Episcopal, and managing editor John Worthen of the Pine Bluff Commercial.
Library Systems Director Bobbie Morgan said the library is “excited to bring this day together for the people in Pine Bluff and surrounding communities. Reviving the front porch tradition of hospitality, enjoying food and conversation, and participating in the arts will make the day memorable. There will be something for everyone.”
Indeed, members of the Jefferson County Home Extension clubs, who will serve as front porch hostesses, will welcome all into the space during the event. Festival-goers will want to check in at the main circulation desk between noon and 12:30 p.m. to obtain free raffle tickets toward prizes.
A host of children's and teens' activities, including a scavenger hunt, jump ropes and hula hoops, is slated. Crafty opportunities include creating sculptures from moldable wax and creating quilt blocks that will become part of a permanently displayed quilt.
Food aficionados will enjoy chicken wings and vote for their favorites. Additionally, there will be a Double Dutch competition and three food trucks on hand.
“Historians of all kinds will find tantalizing offerings. Railroad enthusiasts will appreciate Larry Taylor's painting, The 1947-1948 Freedom Train, by Howard Fogg, and his story of the train which made its 100th stop in Pine Bluff, at 1:30 p.m. on the first floor,” the news release said.
Folks who want to talk “trains” are invited to a story circle following Taylor's presentation. Lovers of local lore will enjoy Arkansas Democrat Gazette columnist Rex Nelson tell some Arkansas Tales on the porch at 1:30 p.m. There will be a virtual front porch located on the first floor that features elderly Arkansans across the state sharing their recollections of front porches; it will run during the entire event.
The award-winning Central High School Writeous Writers will be displaying their poetry skills on the second floor of the library at 12:30 p.m. In recognition of National Poetry Month, an interactive poetry-writing experience will occur following the performance.
For those who desire smooth sounds, musician extraordinaire Dave Sadler will be performing on the porch from 12:30-1:30 p.m. and again from 2-2:30 p.m.
“This is a rare opportunity to practice front porch sitting at its best in what is expected to be one of the finest spring days of the year,” the news release said.
“The fun spreads across the street, where the accompanying Our Front Porch art exhibit will be on display at The Arts and Science Center for Southeast Arkansas, and a smorgasbord of hands-on activities will be offered during the April 27 event.”
Other events include:
Mixed Media Sculptures and jewelry making: Participants will be able to explore exhibitions and then enjoy a hands-on activity creating mixed media sculptures with found objects or jewelry inspired art.
Bouki and Lapin Mask: Craft a mask of Bouki or Lapin, who are popular characters in collected French Louisiana folktales.
Shadow Puppet: Fashion a shadow puppet and engage yourself with shadow puppetry, which is an ancient art of storytelling.
Stop Motion Animation: Learn to create an animated-film at our stop motion stations using a technique of moving objects in small increases between photographed frames so that they will appear to exhibit independent motion.
The Our Front Porch art exhibit will be on display from April 27 - July 27, with artist talks and demonstrations to be announced at a later date. For more information and a complete itinerary of the day's events, please visit www.pineblufflibrary.org or call (870) 534-4802 or to learn more of the traveling exhibit at the Arts & Science Center.