Strings on the Kings Festival

Strings on the Kings Festival

Fleet Feet Little Rock

Bluegrass melodies filled the Ozark air last weekend as the Strings on the Kings Festival took over the banks of the Kings River near Eureka Springs, Arkansas. This event brought together music lovers, camping enthusiasts, and outdoor adventurers for a celebration of all things bluegrass. From heart-pounding jam sessions to workshops and local crafts, Strings on the Kings offered a taste of the rich musical heritage and scenic beauty of the Ozarks. Let’s dive into the sights, sounds, and spirit of this vibrant festival!


Picture this: springtime sunshine warming your face, whispers of summer in the air, and school’s finally out! For folks in The Natural State, that means one thing – time to get outside and celebrate! Arkansans have a unique way of celebrating the Memorial holiday weekend.  One recently developed opportunity is brought about by the collaboration of Bear Morrison and the fine folks at Kings River Outfitters.  Strings on the Kings is more than just another music festival.  The remote location of the festival grounds next to the Kings River offers festivalgoers the opportunity to see and experience Arkansas’ landscape from the river.  Even if paddling isn’t your thing, there’s plenty to enjoy.

The Kings River.
The Kings River.

Upon my arrival, I decided to go for a walk along the riverbank. The sound of the water was so inviting, and tucked away just a bit, I found a little swimming hole that looked too perfect to resist. I decided to wade around in the cool shallow waters to get some better pictures of the river.

As I headed back to the stage I was greeted by a friendly volunteer.  She introduced herself as a local resident, practically born and raised right here on the Kings River.  Through our conversation, she expressed her love for the Kings River and the community around it.  This festival wasn’t just about music and fun, for her, it was about celebrating her roots.  As she spoke about her appreciation for the natural beauty of this area, I learned that for her, this was an opportunity to celebrate her heritage and to share that culture with old and new friends.

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Dream Catcher.
Dream Catcher.

Next, I had time to walk around the main festival grounds and learn more about the vendors who were invited to participate.  I learned that many of them were indeed local to the area. As I chatted with each vendor, a common theme emerged: pure passion. They weren’t just selling crafts, they were sharing their heritage, their culture, a piece of themselves. It felt like a giant family gathering, where everyone was eager to show off their special talents and connect with new folks.

SourPuss Craft Lemonade Stand
SourPuss Craft Lemonade Stand

I stumbled upon a lemonade stand that practically stopped me in my tracks. It wasn’t your average, sticky-sweet kind of stand. This one was decked out in a snazzy black and white theme, with bright yellow lemons popping against the backdrop like sunshine. Even the staff were sporting black and white outfits!  I ordered my lemonade and realized quickly that this was a specialized production with the freshest ingredients: hand-squeezed lemons and freshly picked herbs.  I highly recommend giving SourPuss a try.

Local Artists.
Local Artists.

There were several artists set up with their easels facing the stage and painting as inspiration struck them through the music.  Right next to the stage, there was a large mural beginning to take shape.  I was able to take a few minutes to learn a bit about the artist and Hot Springs native, Bethannie Newsom Steelman as she also expressed her love for the area.

Ozark Outdoor Supply Spring Hiking Ad
The music.
The music.

There were four days of music scheduled with all the best local talent in the area.  I was very happy to see Cousin Payton and the Congregation take the stage just before sunset on Thursday evening.  This band is a brand-new outfit, but each member was already a local legend. There was Payton Easley, his voice as smooth as Arkansas honey and his guitar practically an extension of himself. Richard Burnett, some folks called him “Lightning Fingers” Burnett, could light up the fretboard like a Fourth of July sparkler. And don’t even get me started on Jack Nicholson’s bass lines – pure magic, I tell ya! They flowed smoother than the Kings River itself, weaving a spell that got your feet tapping and your head nodding. Rounding out the crew was Taylor Alderson on drums, keeping the whole beat steady and strong. He was the heartbeat of the band, the foundation on which all that musical goodness was built.  Just one of many bands to rock the stage over the weekend!

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The Vibe.
The Vibe.

Local artists took the stage, each one bringing their own flavor and filling the air with toe-tapping tunes. The weekend was packed with music Thursday through Sunday, and the artists and vendors were determined to share their crafts and bravely hunkered down between spring Thunderstorms.  The overall vibe was community, creativity, and respect for Mother Nature.  Anyone who wants to experience the outdoors and creative expressions would appreciate what Strings on the Kings has to offer.

Searcy County Waterfall

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