Mountain Home’s annual Red White & Blue Festival is officially returning this Friday and Saturday to celebrate its 22nd year of bringing fun events, music concerts, and fireworks to Mountain Home and the surrounding areas.
This year’s festival is run by the Mountain Home Area Chamber of Commerce and marks the first time in the festival’s history that an organization has overseen the event. Since its founding, the Red White & Blue Festival has been overseen by a committee formed by Mountain Home’s Patrick C. Ballard and a group of volunteers.
Festivities kick off on Friday at 5 p.m. at Arkansas State University – Mountain Home’s campus.
“This is our first year,” said Dani Pugsley, president of the Mountain Home Area Chamber of Commerce. “Pat Ballard is still very heavily involved. He’s on our committee. For the last several years, Joel Bratton was actually over the committee for it. This whole festival has been run by volunteers for 21 years before the Chamber took it over.”
The Red White & Blue Festival was born in 1999 after a discussion between Ballard and his son and daughter-in-law. Ballard, who has a license for fireworks, reached out to Galaxy Fireworks for the festival’s display the first year.
The festival was a smashing success. It was so successful that state police told Ballard that he couldn’t host the exhibition again because of traffic concerns.
To keep the event going, Arkansas State University – Mountain Home, under the leadership of former chancellor Ed Coulter, offered its campus to the festival committee, where it has been hosted since.
The Red White & Blue Festival was put on hold for the first time in 2020 after the outbreak of COVID-19 but made a roaring comeback in 2021 with a free concert by Lonestar.
Following the 2021 celebration, Ballard said he would be looking to let others lead the festival he and others worked to create for Mountain Home and its community.
“So, after I started with the Chamber last year, I was approached about Red White & Blue, and I volunteered and was on the committee last summer,” Pugsley said. “I wanted to at least take a year and see how everything operated, how it ran. That way, we could make the best decision to make sure that this was something that the Chamber could take on.”
This summer’s festivities start a 5 p.m. on Friday with the opening of the Red White & Blue Festival’s first beer garden. Vendors participating in the festival will also open their booths to the public at this time.
At 5:30 p.m., Mountain Home residents can watch the Ultimate Auto Group Jeep Night kick-off, with trophies being handed out at 7 p.m.
Music for the festival begins at 6 p.m. with live music from Marybeth Byrd, a finalist from season 17 of The Voice.
Back in 2019, Byrd made the top 8 semifinals on S17 of NBC’s The Voice with the help of her coach, John Legend, and mentors: Usher and Taylor Swift. In 2021, she received Young Artist of the Year from the Arkansas Country Music Awards.
Since then, Byrd has been performing at various venues near and far, hosting an afternoon radio show, teaching vocal lessons, volunteering for the community, making dozens of appearances, and working on original music.
Ha Ha Tonka will follow Byrd on the festival’s stage to finish out the night at 8 p.m.
The Red White & Blue Festivals annual rodeo will also be returning this year and is set to start its first night on Friday at 8 p.m. The rodeo’s pre-show will be held at 7:30 p.m.
“We will have over 50 vendors, with lots of food options, business, and arts and crafts,” Pugsley said. “We also will have a beer garden for the first time. At 6 p.m., Marybeth Byrd will take the stage. She’s from Armorel, Arkansas. She was a finalist for season 17 of The Voice.”
Saturday’s events will begin at 6:30 a.m. with the festival’s annual 5k race. Runners will take off from the starting line at 7 a.m.
The 5k race will be followed by the annual Red White & Blue Festival Parade, which was moved to Saturday this year due to the weekend’s extreme heat forecasts. The parade will be followed by a car show that will begin at 11 a.m. with registrations. Judging will begin at 1 p.m., with award ceremonies held at 4 p.m.
This year’s turtle race has been canceled due to new state laws and regulations surrounding the treatment of turtles.
Vendors and the bounce castle for children will open at noon on Saturday for families attending the list. Live music also starts at noon, with a long lineup consisting of Studio H Company, Nick Reed, Ozark Nights, Bob Possible & Friends, Kick N Flips, The Natural State Bend, Erin Walters, The Katie Laney Project, and the Melodikats.
The times for each performance are below.
The evening will conclude with the last night of the rodeo at 7:30 p.m. before guests can settle in to watch the festival’s famous fireworks show at 9 p.m.