• John-Michael Scurio

2021 | WAR EAGLE CRAFT FAIR


The War Eagle Mill

This weekend, starting October 14th at 8am and ending on October 17th at 4pm, The Ozark Arts and Crafts Fair (a.k.a. War Eagle Fair) is an arts and crafts festival held each October.


This huge event takes place on historic War Eagle Mills Farm, seventeen miles east of Rogers (Benton County). The fair, begun in 1954, grew out of an exhibition hosted by a local hand-weavers guild and into an institution that some have described as the “granddaddy of craft fairs.”


Each year, hundreds of exhibitors and thousands of visitors flock to this rural community in the northwest corner of Arkansas. Throughout its history, the fair has served as a major economic stimulus within the state and contributed thousands of dollars to **scholarship funds at major universities and colleges throughout Arkansas.

The War Eagle Crafts Fair, held since 1954 in the War Eagle Valley (Benton County); circa 1986.

Blanche Elliott

The War Eagle Fair was founded by Blanche and Lester Elliott. The founders believed that the traditional Ozark arts and crafts were dying out and that if artists and craftsmen had a place to exhibit and sell their wares, the traditions would continue to be passed down as they had been. The first fair was held October 29–31, 1954, in the living room of the Elliotts’ home, historic War Eagle Mills Farm, on the western bank of the War Eagle River. The home was built in 1832 by Sylvanus Blackburn, who also built the first War Eagle Mill on the opposite side of the river. The items listed as on display at the fair showed a diverse sampling of traditional Ozark arts and crafts including hand-painted china, leather-work, woodcarvings, rugs, quilts, pottery, oil paintings, baskets, jewelry, and needlework.


The fair continued to grow over the next few years. In 1957, a non-profit body was formed to govern and run the fair. Documents list the incorporators as Blanche Elliott, Ruth Dilly, H. M. Spruce, and Helen Jackson. The organization became known as the Ozark Arts and Crafts Fair Association.


The fair continued to grow at a fast pace throughout the late 1950s and early 1960s. In 1962, a spring event was added to the association’s calendar. The event began as an antiques show, with traditional crafts added several years later. The last spring fair was held in 2006. Using income generated from the popular fall and spring craft shows, the association founded a teaching seminar in 1970. The seminar allowed individuals from across the United States to attend classes taught by some of the country’s foremost craftsmen and artisans for two weeks each June. The last seminar was held in 2008.

The fair has continued to showcase the traditional arts and crafts native to the Ozark Plateau region. Although other art forms may appear in some shows, the heart of the show maintains the traditional Ozark flavor. It is still considered a “traditional arts and crafts show” as defined by such industry publications as Sunshine Artist magazine, which ranked the fair thirteenth in the 200 best shows of 2008. Two other craft shows—the War Eagle Mill Craft Show and Sharp’s Show—take place on the east side of the river during the same time as the War Eagle Fair. Neither show is associated with the War Eagle Fair.


**Scholarship Funds

Throughout the years, the Ozarks Arts and Crafts Fair Association has established several scholarships at area colleges and universities. These include the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County); College of the Ozarks in Point Lookout, Missouri; University of the Ozarks in Clarksville (Johnson County); and NorthWest Arkansas Community College in Bentonville (Benton County).


Music

Each day live music will take place from 10:00-2:00 on the main stage at War Eagle Mill. Be sure to stop by and listen to the talents of the following singer/songwriters:

  • October 14th: Sarah Loethen

  • October 15th: Project 1268

  • October 16th: Neosho River Boys

  • October 17th: Tim Brasuell

Getting there!

War Eagle is nestled in a beautiful river valley amongst the rolling hills of Northwest Arkansas. The journey is a scenic one regardless of what time of year you decide to make it. However, if you are not a local, or even if you are a local but not familiar with the more rural areas of Northwest Arkansas, finding War Eagle can seem challenging.


Here are some basic directions from a few different directions. (For more specific directions, use Google Maps or MapQuest. For your GPS, the physical address is 11045 War Eagle Road Rogers, Arkansas 72756)


From Springdale/Fayetteville:

  • Highway 412 East out of Springdale

  • Continue on Hwy 412E for approximately 11 miles

  • Turn left on Hwy 303 North

  • Continue on Hwy 303N (becomes High Sky Inn Road at the Benton County line) for approximately 7 miles

  • The War Eagle Fair and parking will greet you as you come into the War Eagle River Valley. Parking attendants will direct you upon arrival.

From Rogers/Bentonville:

  • Highway 12 East out of Rogers

  • Continue on Hwy 12E for approximately 12 miles

  • Turn right on War Eagle Road/County Road 98

  • Continue on War Eagle Road for approximately 1.5 miles

  • Cross the old, one-lane, iron bridge

  • The War Eagle Fair and parking are located on the West side of the river. Parking attendants will direct you upon arrival.

From Eureka Springs:

  • Highway 23 South out of Eureka Springs

  • Continue on Hwy 23S for approximately 10 miles

  • Turn right on Hwy 12W towards Rogers

  • Continue on Hwy 12W for approximately 1 mile

  • Turn right on Hwy 127W

  • Continue on Hwy 127W for approximately 8.5 miles

  • Turn right on Hwy 12W

  • Continue on Hwy 12W for approximately 2.5 miles

  • Turn left on War Eagle Road/County Road 98

  • Continue on War Eagle Road for approximately 1.5 miles

  • Cross the old, one-lane, iron bridge

  • The War Eagle Fair and parking are located on the West side of the river. Parking attendants will direct you upon arrival.

Happy crafting!

Special thanks to Dana Sutton of Hindsville, Arkansas, for much of this information.

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