River's golden anniversary: Year of hikes, floats, programs celebrates 50th anniversary
by Flip Putthoff
Chinese New Year 2022 is Year of the Tiger. In Arkansas and across America, Year of the Buffalo is appropriate.
The wild and free-flowing Buffalo River became Buffalo National River with the stroke of a pen on March 1, 1972. Then-President Richard Nixon signed congressional legislation making the Buffalo the first national river in the United States.
Dozens of events including hikes and float trips are set for 2022 to mark the 50-year anniversary of the Buffalo National River. Here are some that have been set so far.
Buffalo River office of the National Park Service in Harrison plans a series of multiday weekend events. Times have not been determined and will be announced closer to the events.
• History weekend is set for Feb. 26-March 1 celebrating the rich cultural history of the area and creation of the park.
• A talk on the geological history of the Buffalo River area will be presented Feb. 26 at Buffalo Point campground.
• An oral history project for people to tell stories about their experiences at the river or around the creation of Buffalo National River in 1972. Location and time to be announced.
• A presentation at St. Joe High School auditorium Feb. 27 discusses the current and historical tribal connection to the river. Bob King of Buffalo River Historic Jail and Museum is coordinator.
• A science symposium is set for March 1 at North Arkansas College in Harrison including an opening ceremony for the anniversary year and celebration with a birthday cake.
• Art in the park weekend June 9 is a celebration of the ways in which Buffalo National River inspires artistic endeavors.
• A student film festival will be held June 10 at the Kenda Drive-In in Marshall.
• Folklore storytelling night is June 10 at the Buffalo Point campground amphitheater.
• A music festival is set for June 11 at Tyler Bend campground featuring artist demonstration traditional Ozark music traditions and how the river inspires modern creations.
• The Chinelos Morelenses Unidos en Arkansas, a Mexican American dance group from Springdale, will perform June 12 at Steel Creek campground and speak about inspiration they gather from nature and visiting the Buffalo River area.
• Park resources weekend is Oct. 8-9 celebrating the natural resources at Buffalo National River and its health benefits.
• Yoga in the park with yoga instructors will be Oct. 8 at Steel Creek and Buffalo Point campgrounds.
• A moon party will be at Tyler Bend on Oct. 8 with viewing of the moon with telescopes and discussing the importance of the night sky.
• Naturalization ceremony will be Oct. 9 at Ozark campground naturalizing 15 new U.S. citizens.
Please note that events are subject to change due to health-related requirements or weather. Buffalo National River encourages everyone to visit the park's website www.nps.gov/buff and calendar of events for up-to-date information.
The Ozark Society was instrumental in the fight to keep the Buffalo free of dams leading up to the creation of the Buffalo National River. These events are open to Ozark Society members, but there is plenty of time to join the Ozark Society and take part in these activities.
• The Ozark Society will lead numerous hikes along the Buffalo this winter. A schedule of the hikes is posted on the Ozark Society website at www.ozarksociety.net, with instructions on how to contact the hike leader.
• A day float on the Buffalo from Tyler Bend to Gilbert is set for April 5. A ride in a boat will be provided or people may bring their own boats. Passengers will need to provide their own life jacket. Those interested in the float trip should contact Stewart Noland at 501-831-9908 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
• The Ozark Society will lead a multiday river trip on the Buffalo from Grinder's Ferry to the White River, June 13 – 18. More information on this trip, including how to register for it, is available on the Ozark Society website at www.ozarksociety.net. For details about this trip contact Stewart Noland at 501-831-9908 or email@example.com.
• Buffalo River documentary film will be shown the evening of March 17 at Skylight Cinema in Bentonville. Start time hasn't been determined.