With acre upon acre of beautiful farmland, a host of antique stores and local shops, and—of course—one of the state’s largest seasonal festivals, it’s easy to see why this area becomes a popular gathering place each November
When you think of Arkansas’ wetland area and the towns in the gorgeous stretch of land across Arkansas, Lonoke, and Prairie counties, you probably have visions of rice fields and ducks flying overhead. That comes as no surprise since Stuttgart, one of the largest cities in this area, is known as the Rice and Duck Capital of the World. And, with a title like that, there’s sure to be a celebration that follows. Stuttgart’s takes the form of a yearly festival held during Thanksgiving week. The World’s Championship Duck Calling Contest & Wings Over the Prairie Festival (870-673-1602, stuttgartarkansas.org) draws not only Arkansans, but also visitors from around the globe. Organized by the Stuttgart Chamber of Commerce and brought to you by numerous sponsors, the weeklong festival has something for everyone—whether or not you are a hunter. The fun kicks off on Saturday, November 22 with a Duck Widows Tennis Tournament followed later in the day by the Queen Mallard and Junior Queen Mallard pageants. Sunday, November 23, the Wings Over the Prairie Festival Open House features shopping at Stuttgart’s downtown vendors from 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. On Wednesday, the carnival and midway open and will continue to run through the end of the festival on Saturday, November 29. Other events including the Sportsman’s Party, Great 5K/10K Duck Race, an arts and crafts fair, the World Championship Duck Gumbo Cook-Off, and—most notably—the duck calling contests for various age divisions will take place on Friday and Saturday during the festival.
If you’re driving from north or central Arkansas to Stuttgart for the festival, there are plenty of great places to stop, stretch, and find a souvenir. If you love antiques or even if you’re just a history buff, we suggest stopping in Keo (just off Highway 165) at Morris Antiques (501-842-3531, morrisantiques.com). The 60,000-square-foot shop is filled with French, English, and American furniture and collectibles that are truly one of a kind. Since 1967, the family owned and operated business has been offering customers the best selection of quality pieces and styles from the 1750s to the mid 1900s. What’s more, their on-site restoration shop can restore your beloved heirlooms to their original finish so you can continue to enjoy them for years to come. While you’re there be sure to check out their museum, which is filled with conversation pieces such as a horse-drawn hearse, vintage appliances, and taxidermy pieces.
MAKE IT HOME
When you decide to plant your roots in a town, one of the first priorities is to find a trustworthy, reputable, and friendly bank. Farmers & Merchants Bank (870-673-6911, mebanking.com) has been that local, trusted source for area residents since 1945. Headquartered in Stuttgart, the bank also has branches in Marianna, DeWitt, Hazen, Des Arc, Morrilton, and Perryville. Started by a group of farmers who wanted to ensure lending would be always be available to farmers and merchants during WWII, the bank still holds the same community-based principles today and prides itself on being attune to the needs of customers and local residents.
During this time of year, one of their favorite ways to give back to the community is by sponsoring a portion of the Great Duck Race, a 5K and 10K held in conjunction with the Wings Over the Prairie Festival and the World’s Championship Duck Calling Contest. In fact, the runners meet at the Stuttgart branch to start the race.
If you already live in the area and need to make a few updates to your home, you’ll want to rely on the friendly service and unbeatable selection at the Stuttgart location of Lumber 1 Home Center (870-673-3601, lumberonehomecenter.com). Conveniently located on East Michigan Street, Lumber 1 is a one-stop shop for all your building material needs, as well as reputable flooring, lighting, outdoor living, power equipment, and power tool brands. Whether you live two blocks or two hours away, the friendly and knowledgeable team is ready to help you with your next project.