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The Jonquil Festival takes place the third weekend of March each year at Historic Washington State Park in Washington (Hempstead County). Along with people from surrounding communities, it attracts visitors from Louisiana, Texas, and Oklahoma who are eager to see the flowers, the crafts, and a culturally significant historic park covering the period from early settlement to Reconstruction.
In 1966, a small tour around town during the March blooming of the jonquils (a type of daffodil) was started. In 1967 or 1968, the tour was established for one weekend and named the Jonquil Trail. What was then called Old Washington Historic State Park was established in 1973, and the park took over what had, by then, become the Jonquil Festival. It has continued to grow and expand into a festival that offers arts and crafts, food, music, and surrey (carriage) rides to visitors. There are also activities such as games, tours, and candle making. The Jonquil Festival relies on Historic Washington staff, staff and law enforcement from other state parks, and volunteers each year.
The Jonquil Festival is committed to teaching Arkansas history through the events at the festival. The setting itself is educational because it is part of Historic Washington State Park. Exhibit tours are available for visitors to learn more about the history of the area, and historical interpreters are available to display the nineteenth-century period clothing relative to the sites where they are stationed.
The highlight of the festival is the flowers themselves. As visitors make their way into the festival, they are able to see the yellow, white, and orange jonquils. In the early years of the festival, the park would order jonquils to increase the number of flowers on the grounds. Now that there are adequate numbers of flowers, the larger groups are divided, and the bulbs are relocated and planted in various areas of the park.
For additional information:Historic Washington State Park. http://www.historicwashingtonstatepark.com/ (accessed March 5, 2013).
Jade Fitch Hope, Arkansas
Last Updated 4/9/2013
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