Saline County is not typically the first place that comes to mind when looking for a growing local artisan scene. The Little Rock suburbs quickly fell behind the resurgence of local art and food that has taken place over the past decade, instead being a hub for chain restaurants and mass manufactured art. One city is trying to kick that trend in a big way and bring the local artisan revolution to the burbs.
Three years ago we decided to start-up an annual food truck festival in Bryant. At the time there was nothing like it in Saline County and we wanted to introduce some of the emerging food scene to areas outside of Little Rock. Almost immediately city officials and mayor Jill Dabbs jumped on board with what we were trying to do. The city threw considerable support behind not only that initial food truck event, but all five that followed after that.
The city’s artistic focus is on full display this Saturday with their In Living Color arts festival at Mills Park. The event will bring local visual artist, musicians, and food trucks together for what will hopefully be an annual celebration of local arts.
Mayor Dabbs’ office and the parks department came to us a couple of months ago with the idea to find a way to celebrate arts and help build Bryant as an art community. We were able to connect the city with some of our favorite food trucks and local musicians to match with the variety of local visual artists participating in the event.
Music will kick off at 11 with Anthony Carter. If the name sounds familiar to you, Anthony has covered the music scene for us over the past several months. Anthony is also a fantastic emerging musician (part of the reason why we like him) who recently placed third at a large regional singer/songwriter competition in Tupelo. At 1:00pm Mark Currey takes the stage. Mark is an accomplished local musician who is a crowd favorite wherever he plays. Finally at 2:30 Amy Garland and Nick Devlin close out for us. Amy has been a star in the local music scene for some time now, her blend of folk, bluegrass, country, R&B and pop is the perfect pairing for the arts festival.
For food trucks we are bringing in some of our favorites from our own food truck events. Katmandu MoMo brings flavorful Nepal style dumplings that has always been a favorite, Fat Head BBQ is our favorite BBQ truck in the market (get the BBQ pork fries), Little Penguin Tacos out of Arkadelphia is one of our favorite new finds in the local food truck scene. Joining them is Saline County native Kincaid’s coffee that serves up great coffee, brats and hot dogs, as well as one of the newest trucks to market, Rock N Flavors Italian Ice.
The art portion of the event will feature local graffiti artist Clay Park, who will work up three separate permanent pieces within Mills Park. Joining him are a number of other artists who will work together to create a sidewalk chalk art piece throughout the park.
This weekend’s art festival, however, is not just a one time showing, but rather the beginning of a long-term commitment to bringing local arts and culture to the forefront of Bryant.
“Anywhere you see a thriving place or city the arts are always an integral part of the scene,” Mayor Jill Dabbs tells us. “Economic development, the arts, and great places where people thrive and grow all go hand in hand. This is an area Bryant has a lot of talent and unlimited potential for growth and improvement.”
We are already working with the city on a number of future art, music, and food related events. It is clear their commitment is not short-term, but rather a desire to make the art scene a strong part of Bryant culture.