Category Archives: Holidays

A Bastille Day look at Benard de La Harpe

Today is Bastille Day, or as they say in France, la Fête nationale.  It commemorates both the 1789 storming of the Bastille as well as the 1790 Fête de la Fédération.   

At the time both events occurred, the land today known as Little Rock, like the rest of the Louisiana Purchase, was under Spanish control. (A fact overlooked in the operetta The New Moon which is set in New Orleans during the French Revolution.)

However, since this area was “owned” by the French from 1699 to 1762 and again from 1800 to 1804, it seems appropriate to acknowledge the French heritage of the area on this day.

Even though Arkansas was explored by the French in 1722, no official settlement of the area now known as Little Rock took place until 1812.  There was no permanent settlement until 1820 (though by 1818 settlement was eminent as evidenced by the Quapaw Treaty).

Jean-Baptiste Benard de La Harpe was the lead French explorer who first came to Little Rock in 1722.

From 1718 through 1723, he spent time exploring various areas of the southern sections of North America.  His 1722 trip up the Mississippi and Arkansas Rivers was at least his third such expedition along a river in the area.  From 1718 to 1719, he explored part of what is now Oklahoma up from the Red River.  Next, he explored part of what is now the eastern section of Texas.

After a trip back to France in 1720, he came back to the New World in 1721.  After his February to May 1722 trip up the Mississippi and Arkansas Rivers, he then went to transfer Pensacola to the Spanish on behalf of the French. In 1723 he went back to France and remained there until his 1765 death.


The American Revolution in Arkansas

Because Arkansas was part of the Louisiana Territory, and under the Spanish flag, one does not think about there being any Revolutionary War battles being fought on Arkansas soil.

But on April 17, 1783, the British and Spanish skirmished at Arkansas Post.  Sometimes known as Colbert’s Raid, this was part of a four year campaign of intermittent efforts by the British to stop the Spaniards from funneling money and supplies to the colonists via the Mississippi River.

James Colbert, a former British Army captain, led a loose group of British mercenaries as well as anti-Spanish members of the Chickasaw tribe on a series of raids in Louisiana and the lower Mississippi area.  He targeted Fort Carlos at Arkansas Post because of its proximity to the Arkansas and Mississippi Rivers.

The Fort had 33 Spanish soldiers and four members of the Quapaw tribe.  Colbert had over 80 men with him.  After an initial attack on the Post, several residents made it to the Fort which was then attacked.  Expecting surrender (and indeed there had been a brief truce), instead a Spanish sortie of 14 faced the 82. Shouting Quapaw war cries and firing their muskets, under the cover of darkness, this sortie surprised and confused the Colbert party.  Convinced that a large collection of Quapaw was attacking them, they scattered and retreated.

Today, the National Park Service at Arkansas Post offers information on this battle, one of the last of the Revolutionary War (and a full 18 months after Cornwallis surrendered to Washington at Yorktown).

A Red, White and Blue sculptural experience in Little Rock

Thanks to Sculpture at the River Market, on this Independence Day holiday, one can see sculptures which are red, white and blue.

Some are featured below.

A red crane from Lorri Acott’s PEACE (2nd Street and Main Street)
A red bird from Dale Rogers’ RETRO TREES (Riverfront Park)
Kevin Box’s CRANE UNFOLDING (Riverfront Park)
Kathleen Caricof’s BEGINNING LIFE (Vogel Schwartz Sculpture Garden in Riverfront Park)
Tim Cotterill’s BIG BILL (Vogel Schwartz Sculpture Garden in Riverfront Park)
Kevin Box’s DANCING PONY (Vogel Schwartz Sculpture Garden in Riverfront Park)


Independence Day with the Eagle of the Rock

With today being Independence Day, it seems appropriate to feature Eagle of the Rock in the Sculpture Vulture.

This was one of the original six sculptures placed in the River Market, back in November 2004.  Sculpted by Sandy Scott, it depicts an eagle taking flight from atop a craggy rock.  The eagle and rock are cast in bronze which is then set upon a limestone base. It is situated on President Clinton Avenue to the west of the entrance to Clinton Presidential Park.

The sculpture was donated by the Jennings Osborne family.  The sculpture and the surrounding area is known as Osborne Plaza.

Happy Fiscal New Year to many LR Cultural Not-for-Profit Organizations

July 1 marks the start of a new fiscal year for many (if not most) cultural organizations in Little Rock.  The previous year has ended, hopefully in the black.

Just as a new calendar year does not automatically wipe away past problems (oh, if only), a new fiscal year does not erase past issues. But it does provide a new framework and new opportunities for moving forward.

So HAPPY FISCAL NEW YEAR. May FY 2018/2019 be the best year ever!

Commemorate Juneteenth today at Mosaic Templars Cultural Center

Each year the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center hosts a free community Juneteenth festival as a celebration of African American freedom and achievement. This year’s event takes place today from 12 noon until 6pm.

Juneteenth is the oldest national commemoration of its kind, dating back to 1865.

Among  the musicians scheduled to perform at this year’s free Juneteenth celebration are  GRAMMY-nominated recording artist Shanice, Sir the Baptist and special host Larry Dodson of the Bar Kays.

The event will be emceed and co-hosted by Keef Glason of Power 92 FM. Local performers will include 2017 Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase winner Dazz & Brie, ZaeHD, Chris James and Ron Mac, Big Piph and Tomorrow Maybe, Big John Miller Band, Gold and Glitz, Dunbar Middle School Choir and Mabelvale Drum Line.

In addition, other activities will be happening throughout the day, including vendors, food trucks, living history characters and film screenings. A screening of the documentary “Dreamland” will air at 1 p.m. and “Soul Food Junkies” will air at 3 p.m.

A kids zone will feature face painting, a video game truck, laser tag, rock climbing wall, water tinkering station and more!

Visitors are also invited to learn more about Arkansas history through the African American lens while exploring MTCC’s exhibits, including the new display, “Don’t Touch My Crown,” which opened June 14 and examines the role of hair in how African Americans define themselves and are defined by others, from the late 19th century to the present.

Seating at the performance stage is limited; attendees are invited to bring their own chairs and blankets.

MTCC is located at 501 W. Ninth St, Little Rock, AR 72201. For more information, please call (501) 683-3593 or email

MTCC is an agency of the Department of Arkansas Heritage.

Flag Day 2018

Today is Flag Day.  Here are several photos of the Stars and Stripes taken in Little Rock over the past few years.

Flag at Robinson Center
Flag outside of Tipton & Hurst main store in Heights
Flag outside of Tipton & Hurst main store in Heights
Flag at the Clinton Presidential Center
The red, white and blue stand out against the night sky and limestone of the Arkansas State Capitol.
The red, white and blue stand out against the night sky and limestone of the Arkansas State Capitol.
The stars and stripes unfurled from the balcony of the Capital Hotel.
The stars and stripes unfurled from the balcony of the Capital Hotel.
Flag Day 4
American flags mark the graves of veterans in Mt. Holly Cemetery