They’re yellow. They’re white. They’re orange. They’re a multitude of shades in between, among the first blooms of the season, mounted proudly atop strong, tall stalks of green. Their arrival brings people around Arkansas out into the fresh air to experience their beauty, cheer and welcome spring to the state.
Daffodils and their cousins, jonquils — collectively known as narcissus — emerge from the warming ground in late February and sometime, usually early March, begin to display their showy butter-yellow blooms. Every year, the festivals in Washington, Bigelow and Camden draw crowds by the thousands, but 2018 is special. This year, the Camden Daffodil Festival
turns 25, the Wye Mountain Daffodil Festival turns 40, and the oldest such festival in the state,
Historic Washington State Park’s Arkansas Jonquil Festival, turns 50.
Here is a guide to Arkansas’ flower festivals, as well as other sites showcasing daffodils this
40th Annual Wye Mountain Daffodil Festival
22300 Arkansas 113, Bigelow
About 35 miles north of Little Rock, along the Pulaski and Perry county line, you’ll find the Wye
Mountain Daffodil Festival, open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at a single, gorgeous, 7-acre field. The
rolling hillside, topped with an iconic wooden cross, is home to 30 varieties of blooming
daffodils and Wye Mountain United Methodist Church. Past festivals have drawn from 10,000
to 20,000 visitors since the festival’s founding in 1978. While the festival is free, including
parking, donations to the church from festival-goers comprise 70 to 80 percent of the church’s
annual operating budget.
On site, you’ll find a food truck operated by church members selling tasty concessions, as well
as items from several food vendors. A newly constructed outdoor stage will showcase live
music, most of it inspirational and faith-based. Arts and craft vendors will set up their tents and
booths around the perimeter so families and groups can wind their way through the blooms for
the perfect photo spot. People of all ages are invited, though organizers request that you leave
your pets at home. Members will also be offering tours of the historic stone church, which this
year celebrates 70 years in this location. (It was founded across the road in 1912.)
“Springtime weather is so unpredictable, we just figure one of the weekends it’s going to rain,”
said church member David Harmon, whose great-grandparents planted the original bulbs. (See
related story Page 40.) “I think we’ll have the most blooms on the second weekend, but they’re
always pretty, and visitors are welcome any day. Doesn’t cost anything, just come out, look at
the flowers and enjoy.”
For complete festival information, visit fb.com/daffodilsonwyemountain or
fb.com/wyemountainchurch or call David Harmon at 501-391-2147.
25th Annual Camden Daffodil Festival
Downtown Camden, various venues
Twenty-five years after its founding, Camden’s largest annual event uses the arrival of the
spring blooms to show off the entire town, shuttling visitors to various venues. For the daffodils
themselves, festival organizers arrange guided tours of private gardens: Beale Daffodil Farm,
Dawson Daffodil Farm, Oakland Farm and Grace Hill (at Grace Hill, tables will be set up on the
back lawn for “al fresca” lunches amidst the daffodils). Two of Camden’s famous historic
homes, the Powell-Dietrich House and the McCollum-Chidester House Museum, will be open
for tours. At the McCollum-Chidester House, Civil War re-enactors will be firing cannons hourly
on the front lawn with full infantry. Nearby is the festival’s antique car show, and on Friday
only, the historic Missouri Pacific Railroad Depot will be open for tours. At Oakland Cemetery,
costumed re-enactors will entertain festival-goers with daring and colorful true tales of
riverboats, Native Americans and war, all tied to Camden history. This year will also feature a
guided bus tour of the town’s historic districts narrated by local historian John Wheeler.
Street vendors will line the downtown, an art show and quilt show will be held on the premises
of First United Methodist Church, and live entertainment will take the stage throughout the
weekend at the Postmasters Grill. (See Let’s Eat, Page 38.) Fair rides and inflatables will be set
up for children and teens, and the Choctaw Indian Nation will be giving cultural
demonstrations. Other planned activities around town include a Daffodil Festival 5K, a World
Championship Steak Cook-Off and the Miss Daffodil Pageant. For full festival information,
tickets, registrations and tour maps, visit camdendaffodilfestival.com.
50th Annual Arkansas Jonquil Festival
Historic Washington State Park, Washington
Historic Washington State Park operates at a different tempo from almost everywhere else. The
beautifully restored and reconstructed 19th-century town honors a way of life long gone, and
its annual Jonquil Festival reflects and fosters that frontier spirit. The original jonquils were
planted by the pioneering early settlers. Grace Harris helped the Pioneer Washington
Restoration Foundation establish the springtime event to coincide with the region’s famous
blooming daffodils. This year, the half-century-old celebration coincides with the 200th
anniversary of Hempstead County.
The Jonquil Festival transforms the 180-resident town into a bustling village, bringing up to
12,000 visitors during the weekend. The many beautiful historic structures, from the blacksmith
shop to the B.W. Edwards Weapons Museum, are, as always, available for guided tours by
interpreters in period garb. Visitors can play town ball (an older version of baseball once played
there), enjoy the antique car show and shop for goods from 125 artisans. The emphasis is on
handmade, traditional pieces made with skill and artistry. Park Sales Director Sheila Little said,
“The talent is amazing. They’ve told us they keep coming back because they love the family
spirit here; it’s like a family reunion.”
Planned 50th anniversary events include a parade, a fish fry, karaoke contest, a celebration
cake and a free concert. Food trucks will be available for concessions, or visitors can have a sitdown
meal from a traditional Southern foods buffet at Williams Tavern Restaurant, built in
1832. Full information about visiting is available at historicwashingtonstatepark.com.
Daffodil Days at Moss Mountain Farm
March 1-2, 9, 15-16, 22-23, 29-30
Moss Mountain Farm, Roland
Arkansas’ nationally recognized garden and lifestyle expert, P. Allen Smith, invites visitors to tour his home and gardens at Moss Mountain Farm in the spring and fall, but March is when Smith’s Daffodil Hill lives up to its name. The field blooms with more than 400,000 daffodils that Smith has planted over the years, plus thousands more around the property.
Smith’s tours are $96.75 per person. They include a guided tour through his three-level, Jefferson-inspired farm home; a guided tour of his gardens (including a terraced garden overlooking the Arkansas River, his formal English rose garden and an ornamental 1-acre
vegetable garden); a guided tour of Poultryville, his heritage poultry area; a farm-to-table lunch
of his fresh recipes, made with produce (and often poultry) from the farm; and time to explore Daffodil Hill.
The March 15 tour also includes a bonus demonstration on how to make goat’s
milk soap. Smith is a consummate professional, so all aspects of the tours are top-notch,
including the food and the wealth of valuable information you glean during the day. To book a
date, or for more information, visit pallensmith.com/tours.
Garvan Woodland Gardens: Celebrate Spring!
March – April, special event March 24
550 Arkridge Road, Hot Springs National Park
For the most varied and expansive display of spring, visit the 210 acres of Garvan Woodland
Gardens. “Mother Nature changes every year,” said Sherre Freeman, marketing director of the
park. “Pinpointing exactly when these flowers are going to bloom is impossible, but it’s always
very flowery here in March and April. I’m expecting the tulips to peak around April 1 this year.
The past couple of years they’ve peaked in early March, but we’ve had a cold winter this year.
The daffodils and jonquils bloom before and with the tulips, so likely late March for those.”
This year, Garvan Gardens is introducing a Celebrate Spring kickoff event on March 24. The
event features a ribbon-cutting to reopen the redesigned Japanese Garden, many children’s
activities, and two onsite breweries, which will transform the Garvan Pavilion into a beer
garden for the day.
“We’re calling it Celebrate Spring because it includes so many things. It includes the daffodils,
but also the tulips, redbuds, dogwoods, azaleas, hyacinths — there’s all kinds of spring bulbs
out here. Plus, we have all the spring annuals that have been planted — the snapdragons and
the pansies and the dianthus,” Freeman said.
Admission to Garvan Gardens is free for members, $15 for adults and $5 for children ages 4-12.
For full information, including ticket purchase, visit garvangardens.org.