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Timberfest incorporation papers dated 1984 were signed by Larry Frisby, Dennis Millard, Don Cotterell, Phillip Zeni, and Sibyl Bratton. Frisby, former president of the Grant County Chamber of Commerce, recalled having little money for the first Timberfest.

Dorris Brown, Timberfest chairperson in 1986, recalled having not even $600 to put on the festival her first year.

The first Timberfest, held July 13–15, 1984, included a 5K run, small carnival on the square, gospel singing, food vendors, and, since it was an election year, a political rally with then-Governor Bill Clinton attending, along with other politicians like David Pryor.

During the early years, only one street was blocked off and local merchants donated prizes. Now four to five streets are blocked, and the entire courthouse square is utilized.

The early Timberfests included simple games like tricycle races; Dorris Brown and then-County Judge Roy Baxley started one of the races by riding tricycles themselves. There was also a hula-hoop contest, a mock jail, a baby-crawling contest, a bear for people to wrestle with, and a contest requiring outfits to be made completely from paper.

The Timberfest Pageant was also part of the early days and has continued to grow.

The current festival, which has an estimated average turnout of 8,000 to 10,000, typically includes a 5K run, Punt Pass & Kick, bow shoot, BB shoot, Morgan Nick Photo Identification booth, Dutch oven cook-offs, inflatable children’s activities, climbing wall, entertainment from talent show winners, cake walk, pet show, music, and lumberjack contest.

Millie McClain
Sheridan, AR