Each city and town in South Arkansas has its own personality. The 1920s oil boom put Smackover on the map. Camden is famous for its daffodils. Warren is home to the Bradley County Pink Tomato Festival. Murals in Magnolia, Smackover and El Dorado tell colorful stories of local history. On a tour of the region, stroll through these fun downtowns to get a feel for the history, personality, hospitality and charm that’s unique to this part of the state.
Hometow pride: MusicFest El Dorado, a nationally known, award-winning music festival that brings the country’s top talent to El Dorado for two days of live music and entertainment.
It has a hsitroy of being a boomtown, and that’s what it feels like today. Union Square is the place to be with great shops and restaurants. It’s a walkabe downtown with much to see and do, and there’s always something new in development. Currently underway is the El Dorado Arts and Entertainment District, a project organized by El Dorado Festival and Events that will transform historic buildings into performing arts venues and restaurants and include an outdoor amphitheater. It’s an exciting time to experience the energy and effort of the community to enhance arts and culture.
Hometown pride: A little known fact is that Fordyce and Dallas County have the largest number of inductees in the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame.
The Dallas County Museum is located in downtown Fordyce at 211 N. Main Street in the oldest building in Dallas County (circa 1884) and contains the Bill Mays Annex, featuring “The Bear and The Bugs,” a permanent exhibit on native son Paul “Bear” Bryant, famed Alabama football coach. Also downtown is Mainstreet Antique Mall, the restored F&P steam locomotive #101 on display at the old Cotton Belt Deport and Peace Park, honoring local servicemen and women. Many beautiful homes and buildings in Fordyce are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, including the Presbyterian Church with its 58 stained glass windows, Fordyce Commercial District and Charlotte Street Historic District, a collection of craftsman-style homes between Broadway and 4th Streets. Rock’s Place, a family-owned steakhouse at Main and 3rd Streets, is located in a stately building listed on the National Register.
Hometown pride: Smackover led the nation’s output of oil in the mid-1920s.
An oil boomtown of a bygone era, Smackover is big on small-town charm. Its downtown boats the oldest freestanding stoplight in the country, and the streets are dotted with quaint clothing stores, antique shops, and flower and gift shops. Smackover Ghost Tours take place in five locations investigated by Spirit Seekers and found to be actively haunted. Oil Town Festival is held the third week of June.
Hometown pride: Famous for its magnolia trees.
Magnolia proudly displays its heritage with six colorful murals on buildings around the downtown square, one of which is signed by actor Charlton Heston. It’s a walkable downtown with many shops and restaurants, including the new Corner Clubhouse, already a local favorite.
Hometown pride: Host of the Camden Daffodil Festival held annually in March.
Main Street Camden features two antique malls, a bookstore, clothing boutiques, gift shops and restaurants. Allen’s Restaurant is a unique and fun dining experience with great food. Postmasters Grill is another favorite. White House Café is an establishment with possibly the best burger in town.
Hometown pride: Home of the Bradley County Pink Tomato Festival.
Downtown Warren is centered around the 1903 Bradley County Courthouse Square. The square has been the focal point of life in Warren, and today it is still alive with activity from local businesses to the legendary festival, the Bradley County Pink Tomato Festival. Thousands of people come to downtown Warren to sample the famous pink tomatoes and take some home with them. The courthouse and 10 other structures are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
- A performance by the South Arkansas Symphony; PJ’s Coffee, Elm Street Bakery and Fayrays for fine dining; and the John Newton House circa 1849.
- Fordyce on the Cotton Belt, held in April on the Courthouse Square, the festival commemorates the town’s railroad history.
- Arkansas Museum of Natural Resources State Park with exhibits that tell the story of Smackover’s dramatic oil discovery.
- Magnolia Blossom Festival and World Championship Steak Cook-off held in May.
- Camden played an important role in the Union’s Red River Campaign during the Civil War. Several sites have Civil War history, including the McCollum-Chidester House and Oakland Cemetery.
- Bradley County Historical Museum and Veterans Museum.