Home Breaking News ‘Star-studded’ lineup set for upcoming Bowie Heritage Festival

‘Star-studded’ lineup set for upcoming Bowie Heritage Festival


The City of Washington, Ark., in partnership with the University of Arkansas Hope-Texarkana Foundation and Historic Washington State Park, will host the 3rd Annual James Black’s Bowie Heritage Festival on April 20, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. The festival will celebrate James Black, the bladesmith who forged the first Bowie Knife for Jim Bowie in Washington, and promote a variety of Arkansas heritage crafts and trades. 

The festival will be held throughout the City of Washington, including the James Black School of Bladesmithing and Historic Trades, the W.P.A. Gymnasium, Washington Pavilion, the Old Town Square, and the midway area near the 1874 Hempstead County Courthouse.

A star-studded lineup of celebrity guests will be in attendance at the festival for guests to meet, including Discovery Channel’s Naked and Afraid star and outdoor survivalist Melissa Miller (Melissa Backwoods) and History Channel’s Forged in Fire stars Jason Knight and Doug Marcaida. Several world-class bladesmiths will also be on hand, showcasing their knives and telling the stories behind each blade. 

Exhibits and workshops, period music, a knife show, and a knife cutting competition organized by “National Living Treasure” and Mastersmith Jerry Fisk and former ‘Forged in Fire’ champion Ricardo Vilar, both of Nashville, Arkansas, will be features of the festival. 

Former resident Mastersmith at the Historic Arkansas Museum and Arkansas Living Treasure, Lin Rhea, will exhibit and demonstrate his bladesmith skills at the festival. In addition, knifemakers from nine states will attend to sell and showcase their work, and craft vendors will teach techniques of their trades. Other folk artisans will contribute to the festival by displaying and selling heritage crafts.

One of Arkansas’s best stories is of James Black, who forged the Bowie Knife for Jim Bowie around 1830. Black’s version of the Bowie Knife was a long, wide, and sharp blade that was strong yet flexible, topped with a coffin-shaped handle of black walnut embellished with silver studs. Jim Bowie was pleased with the knife, which became his fighting weapon used at the Alamo and in skirmishes along the way. 

Re-enactors will narrate the story of Jim Bowie’s travels and the importance of the Bowie Knife. Visitors can also learn how to forge a blade at the James Black School of Bladesmithing and Historic Trades, where the legend of the Bowie Knife lives on. 

Guests will experience heritage/folk art, crafts, music, and dance in the unique atmosphere of a historically preserved community. Visitors will also have the opportunity to learn from the past and enhance their appreciation for many genres of Arkansas heritage. There will be a dedicated kids’ corner where children can learn about heritage crafts and take home a free wooden replica Bowie knife. A variety of food vendors will also be part of the festival.

The festival will showcase a display of authentic James Black crafted knives and other antique Bowie knives hosted by Mark Zalesky of KNIFE Magazine. Mark will also host a “knife roadshow” for visitors, so bring a knife or two to be evaluated by one of the best knife historians in the country.

In addition, we are thrilled to announce that America’s Auctioneer, Myers Jackson, will be conducting a live auction at this year’s festival. Join us in this exciting and enjoyable atmosphere as we raise funds for a noble cause.

Myers Jackson will captivate the audience with thrilling bidding opportunities, ensuring lucky bidders walk away with incredible treasures to cherish. Don’t miss your chance to bring home these valuable items!

Admission is free. Parking for the festival will be $6.

For more information, call (870) 648-5084 or visit facebook.com/visitwashingtonar.

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