Culturalist: June 2017

A month’s worth of Blown glass, Billy Currington and really, really fast boats

Riverfest at Riverfront Park | June 2-4

LITTLE ROCK | Forty dollars—that’s the entry fee for three days of music and more along the Arkansas River with the 40th anniversary of Riverfest. The weekend fee covers admission to see rockers Cage the Elephant and country musician Billy Currington on the night of June 2; hip-hop artist Wiz Khalifa and the pride of Poyen, country star Justin Moore, on June 3; and a Riverfest 40th Anniversary Celebration with Morris Day and the Time and festival-ending fireworks on June 4. Plus, Riverfest offers about 30 more musical acts (Cold War Kids! Moon Taxi! Colt Ford!), along with food, arts and more. Tickets are $40 in advance or $55 at the gate. Sunday tickets are $5 and available at the gate only (ticket holders for the music festival will gain free admission on Sunday). Children 10 and under get in free with a paid adult. (

Chihuly: In the Gallery + In the Forest at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art | June 3 – Nov. 13

BENTONVILLE | Two and a half years after an exhibit at the Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock, the vibrant glass sculptures of Dale Chihuly—spears, spirals, orbs and neon-colored fireballs of exploring tentacles—return to Arkansas with Chihuly: In the Gallery + In the Forest. The museum built a new entrance, a pedestrian bridge and an elevator tower (designed by Crystal Bridges architect Moshe Safdie) to help connect visitors to the part of the exhibit in the newly enhanced North Forest, which was remade over the course of a year. On Saturday nights through Aug. 12, Chihuly: In the Forest will come alive with live music, circus acts, artist demonstrations, art-making, outdoor games, a food truck and more with Chihuly Saturday Nights. While the gallery portion of the exhibit will close Aug. 14, the outdoor sculptures will remain on view through Nov. 13. (

Juneteenth at the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center | June 17

LITTLE ROCK | Here’s some history: The Emancipation Proclamation, which extended freedom to slaves in the United States, was issued by President Abraham Lincoln on Jan. 1, 1863. However, because it was handed down during the Civil War, the proclamation didn’t free slaves behind Confederate lines—including some 250,000 slaves in Texas. In fact, it wasn’t until June 19, 1865, when Union Gen. Gordon Granger announced the proclamation in Galveston, Texas, that many slaves learned of their freedom. The day is now a celebration of black heritage around the country, including the Juneteenth Celebration of Freedom 2017 at the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center. The free, noon-to-6 p.m. event includes a block party with live music, children’s activities, food trucks and vendor booths. (

Lightning on Ludwig at Lake Ludwig | June 9-11

CLARKSVILLE | Maybe you’re over sailboats. Maybe canoes and kayaks are a little too wishy-washy for your taste. Or maybe you just prefer that particular sort of watercraft that sounds not unlike several dozen nests of highly perturbed hornets. For those who do, we’d recommend swinging by Clarksville’s Lake Ludwig to catch this year’s iteration of mind-bogglingly fast hydroplane races, where racers from 11 surrounding states will careen around the half-mile track at speeds up to 95 mph. (Even if you don’t, just know there’ll be Memphis-made barbecue on offer and a concert following the races on Saturday evening, so you should probably show up all the same.) Note: Racers will be testing the track from noon until 5 p.m. on Friday, June 9, but the racing won’t really get underway until Saturday (10 a.m. to 5 p.m.) and Sunday (noon to 5 p.m). Admission is free, and organizers recommend bringing lawn chairs. (

2017 Arkansas New Play Festival at Walton Arts Center and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art | June 15-24

FAYETTEVILLE & BENTONVILLE | By mid-June, summer has reared its ugly, humid head, chasing most of us inside to more comfortable, air-conditioned climes. Fortunately, this is where the kind people at TheatreSquared—Northwest Arkansas’s only year-round professional theater—step in, lifting the curtain on the creative process with two weekends of new plays. It’s an opportunity for theater lovers to see a play created from the ground up, with a fully staged workshop production, staged readings and a ton of exclusive, behind-the-scenes events. The performance readings include an intimate conversation with the playwright and cast. Two-weekend New Play Passes, granting entry to all performances and events, are $45. Plots of past plays have included Nina Simone stuck in a snowstorm and a mini civil war in Little Rock in 1874. (