Talk about a “jam” packed time!
The Mountain Home Chamber of Commerce and Baxter County Historical Society officially wrapped up Baxter County’s Sesquicentennial Celebration with the county’s second annual JamFest over the weekend.
Volunteers from the Historical Society and Chamber came together to bring pioneer reenactors, historical crafts, old-time kid’s games and traditional music to downtown Mountain Home in celebration of Baxter County’s big 150th anniversary.
“We want to thank all of our amazing JamFest sponsors and contributors one last time. We appreciate all that you do for our community,” said the Chamber when thanking its supporters.
This year’s JamFest was split into two parts of town, with the Historical Society hosting a walkthrough of a “historical timeline” of Baxter County, allowing the public to watch some of the county’s biggest moments be recreated by pioneer reenactors.
The timeline for the event was based on Baxter County Justice of the Peace Mary Ann Edge’s research into the chronology of Baxter County’s history.
This year’s reenactors included Anne Johnson as Mary Ann Messick, a former reporter and historian for The Baxter Bulletin, and Kelsey Ledford as Nellie Mitchell, who delivered newspapers in Baxter County for 50 years until she was 96.
John Crain stepped into the shoes of Baxter County Sherrif Abraham Byler, who became the first sheriff of the county in 1873. He served four terms before being elected to represent Baxter County in the State Legislature. After serving two terms, Byler returned to Baxter County to be sheriff once again. He was killed in the line of duty during an arrest on June 15, 1892.
Cindy Young donned her best Vada Sheid outfit this Saturday, capturing the life of one of Baxter County’s most famous State Representatives and Senators. Sheid was instrumental in getting the funds to build the bridges over Norfork Lake, as well as starting the county’s community college. Sheid and her husband ran Sheid’s Furniture on 9th Street for many years.
The great Dr. James Dunbar was portrayed by Neal Wheeler this year. Dunbar opened his practice in Mountain Home in 1951, charging only $2 a visit to local residents. He was known for giving penicillin shots. Dunbar Auditorium at Mountain Home High School was named in his honor after his donation to the school.
Jess VanderStek also donned a medical outfit this year by portraying Dr. Ben Saltzman, who started his practice in 1946. Dr. Saltzman was responsible for the creation of Baxter County’s first hospital in 1955. Dr. Saltzman also served as the Director for the Arkansas Department of Health from 1981-87.
Baxter County’s David Benedict put on his best Col. Randolph Casey this year. Casey is known for building the first home in Mountain Home in 1858. The home still stands in the northeast corner of the Baxter County Fairgrounds today. Col. Casey was elected to be a State Representative in 1874. Casey served in the 124th Tennessee Militia during the Civil War.
Baxter County’s head librarian, Kim Crow Sheaner also got a chance to portray Margie Dahlke this year. Dahlke became the county’s first librarian in 1953.
Beth VanderStek donned her best lawyer outfit to portray Nell Poweel Wright on Saturday. Wright became one of the state’s first female lawyers in 1943. She would later become a Chancery Judge.
The cast of reenactors was rounded out by Sonny Garrett, who portrayed Tom Shiras, who purchased the Baxter Bulletin alongside his brother Ennis in 1904. Shiras became known as The Walking Editor of the Ozarks.
In addition to the historical reenactments, JamFest also had an interactive arts and crafts area hosted by local artist Chris Royer, as well as a kids’ play zone that featured a bounce house. Mountain Home paramedic and muralist Corey McMahon also painted a new mural in downtown Mountain Home to celebrate the county’s big birthday.
JamFest also had a “vendor alley” for local businesses and artists to pitch their goods to festivalgoers.
Live music for the festival was provided by The Katie Laney Project, Natural State, Natural Disaster, and the Flippin Cotter Band.
The big winner of this year’s Jam Competition went to Sally Little, who took home 1st and 2nd place in the savory category. Anita Karr took home 3rd place in the category.
This year’s creative category was swept by Sally Little for all three positions. Her jams included “I’m a Big Dill Pickle,” “Whiskey Sour,” and “Corona.”
In the sweet category, Anita Karr took home the top spot with her strawberry jalapeno jam. Karr also won the 3rd place slot. Sally Little came in 2nd place for the sweet category.