Fort Smith has a long history rich in heritage and culture—and as it has grown and changed over the years, it has only become more special. Beautiful scenery, friendly community, and so much history combines to create a city that people love, and they all come together to celebrate the season and events not to be missed.
Fest of Ale
Craft beer lovers will want to mark their calendars for the 10th annual Fest of Ale, presented by Sodie’s Wine and Spirits. The only local craft beer event, the festival offers an exclusive opportunity to be the first to try a new beer before it hits the market from Burford and Belle Point Distributing.
Hosted by Uncork’d, the restaurant closes to the public making it a private and intimate affair—complete with food pairings based on the flavor profiles of the beer. Ticketholders will enjoy one red and white wine food pairing, along with as many as twenty craft beers paired with eight-to-ten dishes.
“This event supports Girls, Inc. of Fort Smith and helps provide funds to support their afterschool and outreach programs for approximately 1,000 girls each year,” explains Amanda Daniels, Executive Director of Girls, Inc. “Our organization inspires all girls to be strong, smart, and bold, providing life-changing experiences and solutions to the unique challenges that they face. Our mission is to help make girls successful and confident, and we also work with policymakers to advocate for legislation and initiatives that increase opportunities for girls. At Girls, Inc. girls grow up healthy, educated, and independent.” Tickets cost $80 per ticket or $150 per couple and can be purchased online, via phone or in person at Sodie’s or Girls, Inc. For more information, visit girlsincfortsmith.org.
Fort Smith Fall Festival
Since it was established in 2018, the Fort Smith Fall Festival has been the perfect welcome to the season, bringing together everything that makes the area so special—all in one fun event. “The festival is unique as it encapsulates what Fort Smith is so well known for: amazing people, incredible heritage and history,” says Cody Faber, who created the festival and wears the many hats of park ranger as well as volunteer/living history/historic weapons coordinator at the Fort Smith National Historic Site. “Visitors to the event will see everything from outdoor events, vendors, and food trucks to special museum programing like historic reenactment trials, cannon shoots, cavalry charges, and more. Ride the historic trolley, stop by the recently opened U.S. Marshals Museum, and enjoy hands-on kids programming at the National Historic Site. There’s no other event for which all the museums and sites downtown come together in this special way.”
The event is free to attend, and most sites will either have lowered admission fees or will offer free admittance for the festival. Proceeds support local museums and attending vendors.
Coordinated by the Fort Smith National Historic Site, sponsors include the Fort Smith Museum of History, the Fort Smith Regional Art Museum, the Fort Smith Trolley Museum, the Fort Smith Convention and Visitors Bureau and the U.S. Marshals Museum. For more information, visit fortsmith.org.
The month of October would be incomplete without a nod to the German tradition of Oktoberfest, and the Fort Smith Downtown Business Association, in partnership with the Bar and Restaurant Committee and all businesses and organizations downtown, is pleased to be presenting the local area with a fantastic event for the second year. “We believe this free event will create a family-friendly atmosphere downtown and help build a cheerful outlook about downtown Fort Smith among the public,” says Stephanie Nugent, director of the Fort Smith Downtown Business Association.
The event takes place on October 7, beginning with the 3rd Street Oktoberfest Block Party from 8am – 5pm, hosted by Olen & Co Market. Partygoers will enjoy a “vendor village,” great food, live music and more. For anyone interested in some spooky history, Haunted Walking Tours/Ghost Stories will take place throughout the day, hosted by the Fort Smith Museum of History. At noon, 708 Cornhole Oktoberfest Street Fling will take place at 3rd and Garrison, hosted by Rham Cunningham. Shop around at the Harvest Market in the First National Bank parking lot from 1pm to 6pm. Hosted by Fort Smith Downtown Business Association, the market includes a variety of attractions as well as food and live music. Car enthusiasts won’t want to miss the Show n’ Shine Car Show, hosted by Fort Smith Downtown Business Association, running from 1pm to 6pm. Raise a glass at the Pub Crawl from 10am to 2am, and visit participating area pubs, bars and restaurants for your Entertainment District commemorative cups, great beer, and an unforgettable experience. For more information, visit godowntownfs.org.
Kicked off a decade ago at the home of Susan and Sam Fiori, Havana Nights is the result of Susan Fiori and Patti West’s efforts to create a unique and fun fundraiser for the Fort Smith Children’s Shelter Foundation. “We create a relaxed but lively atmosphere for our guests,” says Lauren Pruitt, director of development at FSCSF. “Everyone is encouraged to come in flip-flops, fedoras, and tropical attire.”
This year’s event will feature a premium liquor tasting during cocktail hour, with appetizer stations, a cigar lounge that is open throughout the evening, Cuban-themed cuisine, a silent and live auction, an epic after-party with music from The Get Down, and food from Taco Bell — “For our fourth meal cravings!” Lauren says.
All proceeds for this ticketed event benefit the Fort Smith Children’s Shelter Foundation, which supports the GetREALU program to support youth aging out of foster care. “These events bring people together to raise awareness and hope for those that are in great need in Arkansas and in our community,” Lauren notes. “GetREAL provides healing and guidance, cultivates healthy and life-long relationships and transforms trauma into hope as each individual realizes their potential to become productive members of society.” Tickets cost $175, with tables available for purchase. For more information, visit getrealu.org.