Pine Bluff’s “Smoke on the Water” barbecue and music festival has grown to attract thousands over a weekend at Regional Park. This year’s festival opens Thursday, Sept. 14, with carnival rides for the kids and culminates Saturday, Sept. 16, with Jason D. Williams and country group Trick Pony providing the music at Lakeview Amphitheatre.

In between, there are a state championship barbecue cook-off and a world championship backyard barbecue championship, plus music by blues man Bernard Allison on Friday night and a carnival-like atmosphere with plenty of activities for the family each night.


Gates open at 5:30 p.m. Thursday with $10 tickets for unlimited rides. Friday’s gates open at 5:30 with a $5 admission, while Saturday’s activities run from noon to 11 p.m., with a $5 admission.

Hot Nashville mandolins
The usual rehearsal space for the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra will play host to a decidedly unusual concert this weekend. The Nashville Mandolin Ensemble, a group taking its inspiration from mandolin orchestras of the turn of the 20th century, will be performing its eclectic repertoire in Byrne Hall on Saturday at 8 p.m.


Headed by Butch Baldassari of Vanderbilt’s Blair School of Music, the ensemble has made a name for itself by demonstrating the versatility and range of an instrument most people associate with the movie “Deliverance.” “We surprise our audiences every time we play,” says Baldassari on his website, “People just revel in the sound of all these marvelous instruments and in the tremendous variety of music we perform. Our repertoire includes Bill Monroe’s bluegrass, as well as the music of O’Carolan and Vivaldi.”

The concert is presented by the Classical Mandolin and Guitar Society of Central Arkansas, which will be taking small donations at the door. The CMGSCA is not only a reading and performing group, but it also brings leading mandolin players to Arkansas. The group is receiving administrative support for this concert from Bechstein Hall, a chamber music organization sponsoring the event.


Byrne Hall is at 2417 North Tyler Street, in the Diocese of Little Rock campus in the Heights. Hors d’oeuvres and wine will be provided by Boulevard Bread Co.

Cycle rally, concerts in Hot Springs
Travis Tritt, the Kentucky Headhunters and Three Dog Night will headline three concerts in three nights as part of the Hot Springs Motorcycle Rally Thursday through Sunday, Sept. 14-17. Formerly a HOG rally exclusively, this year’s event is open to owners of all motorcycle makes, and organizers expect a huge jump from the estimated 7,000 cyclists who have attended each year recently.

Tritt’s concert is at 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 16, at the Summit Arena. The Kentucky Headhunters perform on Thursday at Summit Arena, while Three Dog Night is scheduled for Friday at Magic Springs’ Timberwood Amphitheater following the rally’s traditional mile-long parade.

A $40 registration fee includes all events at the rally.


For more information email

Chuckwagon racing
For a little something different, try out the Arkansas Chuckwagon Racing Association’s state finals Friday through Sunday, Sept. 15-17, at Opal Arena, about five miles west of Beebe on U.S. Highway 64.

The races are Saturday and Sunday, but the event kicks off Friday at 8 p.m. with a dance and music by the Culpepper Mountain Band (admission is $5). Primitive camping is available beginning Friday, and the gates open at noon. The Culpepper Mountain Band will also perform at 8 p.m. Saturday.

Kids stick horse racing starts at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, and the adults race their chuckwagons starting at 1 p.m. An auction begins about 4 p.m. Saturday with a yearling filly among the items up for bid. They’re back again on Sunday at 1 p.m., and awards will be presented at 4 p.m. Admission for the races is $10 for adults and $5 for children ages 6-12 both days.

Bring lawn chairs; food and beverage vendors will be on hand.

For more information, call 882-3950 or visit the webpage at

Salsa party returns

The Summer Salsa Party returns to the River Market pavilions on Wednesday, Sept. 20, from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Live music and a DJ will provide music, and admission is free. and the Arkansas Times sponsor the event.

World Fest at MacArthur Park
Little Rock’s various cultures and ethnicities are embraced annually by World Fest, which will be held Friday and Saturday at MacArthur Park.

The festival is geared to school groups on Friday with its 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. hours. Saturday’s hours are 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and will include international food, youth-geared fun and multicultural music and entertainment.

The event is free. MacArthur Park is at Ninth and Commerce streets. Fore more information, call 244-5483 or visit

Theater watch
The Children’s Theatre at the Arkansas Arts Center opens its season with “Miss Nelson Is Missing,” based on the book by Harry Allard and the music of Joan Cushing. A group of unruly kids in Room 207 of a school drive their teacher, Miss Nelson, away, and she’s replaced by Miss Viola Swamp, who causes the kids to modify their behavior to get Miss Nelson back. Bradley Anderson directs.

Admission is $14 for adults and $11 for children. Showtimes are 7 p.m. Friday, 3 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday this weekend and Sept. 22-24 and Sept. 29-Oct. 1. Call 372-4000.

Julie Atkins stars in the one-woman show “The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe” at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 16 at the Weekend Theater. The play won the New York Drama Desk Award and the New York Drama Critics Circle Award in 1986. Atkins portrays more than a dozen characters commenting on popular culture. Her roles range from a homeless woman to a disco swinger to a feminist of the 1970s.

Tickets are $14 for adults and $10 for students and seniors. Call 374-3761 for reservations.

New exhibit at MOD
The Museum of Discovery opens “Grossology: The (Impolite) Science of the Human Body” beginning Saturday, Sept. 16, and running through Jan. 7.

“Grossology” uses animatronics and imaginative exhibits in showing the good, bad and downright ugly about runny noses, body odor and more. “Grossology” is sponsored by Arkansas Children’s Hospital and Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield. MOD hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $7 for adults and $6 for seniors and children. Call 396-7050 or visit

Free films at QQUMC
The Quapaw Quarter’s “Faith in Film” series runs through Oct. 13 with a free movie and discussion every Friday beginning at 7 p.m. This week’s movie is “No Turning Back,” about an illegal immigrant who makes bad choices for good reasons.

Other upcoming films include “Fire,” about forbidden love amid religious and social oppression; “Mysterious Skin,” about child abuse; “Loggerheads,” which focuses on one son and two mothers; and “Transamerica.”

Some of the films have language and/or adult situations and may not be suitable for children.

Popcorn and refreshments are available for free. Call 375-1600 or visit the church’s website at for more information. The church is at 1601 Louisiana.