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‘Thanks for coming’

2023 Clothesline Fair draws vendors, visitors by Lynn Kutter | September 13, 2023 at 11:37 a.m.
Lynn Kutter/Enterprise-Leader The Sunshine Line square dance group was one of 61 exhibition dance groups at the Clothesline Fair over Labor Day weekend. The groups danced on Saturday afternoon and then again on Monday afternoon.

PRAIRIE GROVE -- It's a tradition for John and Stacy Sagely of Fort Smith to come to the Clothesline Fair every year. They came as a newly married couple. They brought their children each year. And now as empty nesters, they still come, sometimes with grown children and spouses along.

"We never miss it," John said, as he helped his wife shop for handmade pottery at the Glazing Grace vendor tent. Stacy was picking out small bowls for her daughter-in-law while they were talking to each other through FaceTime.

The Clothesline Fair also is a tradition for many of the vendors.

Leon Hoffman of Tilly has brought his booth filled with handmade, high-quality wooden toys and games to the Clothesline Fair for 30 years. He used to go to about 22 shows each year. Now, he said, he's down to around 10. He estimates he has shown at 600 events over his 33 years.

Hoffman makes old-time wooden toys and games and said he believes it is wonderful to keep those alive for younger generations. His booth stayed busy as children stopped by to see how the toys worked and then, turning to their parents, asked if they could get one to take home.

Doug Stumbaugh, president of Prairie Grove Lions Club, last week thanked all those who volunteered over the weekend but said he especially had to thank those who visited the fair.

"I just want to thank everyone for coming out," Stumbaugh said. "It wouldn't be possible without people attending. That's what makes the fair happen."

The Lions Club sponsors the Clothesline Fair each year at Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park with the help of school groups and other organizations. The 2023 Clothesline Fair was the 71st fair hosted by the club. Except for 2020, because of the covid pandemic, the club has held a fair for the past 72 years.

Stumbaugh said vendors reported a good weekend.

"Everybody seemed happy," he said. "Most said 'we will see you next year.'"

This year's fair had 150 vendors who came from Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas, Louisiana and Mississippi. Even while some vendors came from miles away, Stumbaugh said it is just as significant that many were from Northwest Arkansas.

"We had a lot of local vendors," he said.

Stumbaugh, who has been a Lions Club member for 10 years, said he believes the fair has been successful for so many years because of the community buy-in.

"The community enjoys it so much. It's a big deal to come and be a part of it," he said.

Lions Club members already are talking about next year's fair and one suggestion is to move the live music back to the bandstand so that more people can hear the music, Stumbaugh said. Two local bands played on Sunday afternoon at the amphitheater. Another suggestion being tossed about is to have more live music and to possibly have it later in the day on Sunday.

Other long-time vendors at the fair this year included Sharon Tate of Searcy and Amy Francis of Fayetteville.

Tate has come many years with her booth called Sharon's Paintbrush that offers facepainting. She usually is there long past the 5 p.m. closing time. On Saturday, for example, she said she was still painting faces until 8 p.m. If children are in line, she doesn't shut down for the night.

"I don't let the kids go without being done," Tate said. "I'm not going to have them cry."

Francis, who has come to Prairie Grove for nine years, said she loves the atmosphere of the Clothesline Fair.

"People are excited to be here. It's one of our favorite shows."

Francis said the Clothesline Fair marks the beginning of fall for her booth which offers baby items for sale.

"We wouldn't miss it," she added.

  photo  Lynn Kutter/Enterprise-Leader Elaine Glass, left, and Abby Young, both of Prairie Grove, try some creme from the My Mojo Skincare vendor booth at the Clothesline Fair on Sunday, Sept. 3. Lisa Teegarden of Prairie Grove owns the booth. She also can be found most Saturdays at the Prairie Grove Farmers Market.
  photo  Lynn Kutter/Enterprise-Leader Wells Austin, 5, of Prairie Grove, wanted a car painted on his arm. Artist Sharon Tate of Searcy said she stayed busy all day during the Clothesline Fair painting faces and arms. Her booth was called Sharon's Paintbrush.
  photo  Lynn Kutter/Enterprise-Leader Amy Francis and her daughter, Piper, of Fayetteville, pick out some jewelry at the vendor booth, Fantasea, at the Clothesline Fair over Labor Day weekend. Francis also was a vendor at the fair, offering handmade baby items, such as bibs and blankets, for sale.
  photo  Lynn Kutter/Enterprise-Leader Leon Hoffman, right, of Tilly, shows some of his handmade wooden toys and games to the Davis family of Elkins: dad, Matt Davis, and his children, Watson, 7, and Aubree, 5. Hoffman has been coming to the Clothesline Fair for 30 years.
  photo  Lynn Kutter/Enterprise-Leader John Sagely holds a pottery bowl for his wife, Stacy, who is on the phone shopping for her daughter-in-law at the Clothesline Fair on Sunday, Sept. 3. The couple, from Fort Smith, has been coming to the fair since they were married.
  photo  Lynn Kutter/Enterprise-Leader Aubry Ault and Joey Richards, members of Southern Dynamite, whoop and holler as they square dance during the Sept 4 competition at the Clothesline Fair in Prairie Grove.
  photo  Lynn Kutter/Enterprise-Leader Mitch Whitehouse dressed as "Ranbo" the clown brings fun antics to the Clothesline Parade ever year.
  photo  Lynn Kutter/Enterprise-Leader The 2023 Clothesline Parade had about 140 entries in it, including many farm tractors, classic vehicles, area businesses, square dance groups, horses and fire trucks.

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