Founded Feb. 4, 1869, Grant County is celebrating its 150th year as an official county this year, and in honor of the sesquicentennial anniversary, the Grant County Museum has planned a community-wide celebration for May 4 on the courthouse square complete with a parade, games, music and entertainment, living history presenters, food vendors and a variety of arts and craft and business vendors.
Grant County Museum Director Lindsey Stanton stated, “It’s important to promote and preserve Grant County’s history, and Heritage Day is a great way to do just that. This is a great educational opportunity, as well. It’s also important that we appreciate the early residents who carved Grant County for future generations, as well as the success of this community since its incorporation.”
Prior to 1869, and the creation of the county, local residents had to conduct government business in either Hot Spring, Jefferson or Saline counties. Trips to conduct such business could be long and tiring, therefore a group of local citizens began the task of forming a new county, with a centrally located county seat and courthouse that would be more convenient to local residents.
On April 25, 1868, a petition was submitted to the Arkansas General Assembly requesting a new county be established. It would contain 639 square miles. The bill was approved and signed by Gov. Powell Clayton on Feb. 4, 1869. The county was named for Union General Ulysses S. Grant. The act also named the county seat in honor of Union General Phillip H. Sheridan.
Now, 150 years later, Grant County still stands strong, and although the original courthouse is long gone, the fourth, and current courthouse stands in its footprints.
It is at this site where Grant County’s 150th Anniversary Celebration will take place, with activities taking place, both inside the courthouse and upon its lawn, as well as the immediate surrounding streets.
Heritage Day is an annual event held by the Grant County Museum but normally held on the museum grounds. This event includes living – history presentations, historical reenactments, and live entertainment. This annual event is dedicated to preserving the history and heritage of Grant County. But this year is an especially notable one, with the 150th anniversary, so Stanton wanted to do something special to honor such a special milestone in Grant County history.
“We look forward to hosting Heritage Day at the museum each year, but we would like to commemorate the 150th anniversary on the court square, at the place it all began,” she explained. “I appreciate the individuals and organizations who are generously donating their time and resources to assist with this historic event. The interest and support for it has been tremendous.”
Due to the unpredictable and usually cold temperatures of February, it was decided to hold the celebration on May 4. The event will kick-off at 10 a.m. with a “Celebrating 150 Years of Grant County” themed parade through the downtown area (fair parade route). Anyone interested in being in the parade can contact the Grant County Museum at 942-4496. Entry forms can be picked up at the museum, The Headlight or the Circuit Clerk’s Office at the courthouse.
Earlier in the morning there is a 5K race. Runners can register for the 5K race at https://runsignup.com/Race/AR/Sheridan/Sheridan.
The day’s activities include a “Show and Tell” antique automobile show on the Sheriff’s office parking lot, living history presentations inside the courthouse and around the lawn, such as quilting, blacksmithing, rope making, butter churning, crochet, basket weaving, soap making and more.
In keeping with the old-time theme, games such as Bingo, sack races, and horseshoes will be available for people to enjoy.
Be careful though or you might find yourself in “jail” on the courthouse lawn! A makeshift jail will be set up and for a donation friends can have one another locked up for up to 20 minutes.
How? It’s simple. Make a $2 or more donation to the sheriff, and he’ll send a deputy out with a warrant to pick that person up. But to be fair, we need to give them a chance to stay out of jail, so they can match what you paid and pay the jailer their bail to keep from being locked up or they can sit in jail the same number of minutes that you paid in dollars (10 minute minimum stay, 20 minute maximum stay if bond not posted). Come on out and see who finds themselves behind bars, but remember you could be next!
Live – music and entertainment will include gospel, fiddlers, bluegrass, soloists, square dancing, and more.
There will even be a Wiffle ball tournament taking place near the square, beginning at 11 a.m.
The “Show & Tell” antique car show will take place on the Grant County Sheriff’s parking lot, and a vintage tractor display – including a train for the kids to climb into will be set up along the front and west side of the courthouse.
Festival goers can check out a variety of vendors that will be set up on the courthouse lawn, which will include arts and crafts, jewelry, handmade sign décor, cutlery, area businesses and organizations, and more. Of course, no festival is complete without a few good food trucks, as well! Be sure to come hungry!
Be sure to visit the information booth and grab a special commemorative Heritage Day: Celebrating 150 Years of Grant County t-shirt.
Putting together an event this special requires many volunteers, which festival coordinators will gladly accept! If you would like to participate or assist with Heritage Day we encourage you to do so! Donations are also appreciated. All proceeds will go back to the museum to assist with event costs and continued preservation of Grant County history. Please call the Grant County Museum for further information or with any questions regarding the event: (870) 942-4496.
Millie McClain is a reporter for The Sheridan Headlight.