Best Junk Ever!

Van Buren Downtown Junk Fest
 Labor Day Weekend, September 2-3
 9am–6pm | Free to attend



A lot has been going on in downtown Van Buren, Arkansas in recent months. Freedom Park, next to the Old Frisco Train Station, opened on June 30, with its splash pad, pavilions, and amphitheater. On Thursday nights, shops stay open for Living Local Late-Night Shopping. Vendors set up on the sidewalks as well, musicians play, at certain times, artists display their work, and families stroll the historic street. 

And now, a new festival is being added to the list of attractions. Downtown Junk Fest takes place over Labor Day weekend, September 2-3, from 9am-6pm. If you love vintage, repurposed items, you’re going to have a great time browsing, shopping, and finding that one-of-a-kind treasure from more than 100 vendors. 

Do South® spoke with organizers Ken Robison and Mark Shaffer, owners of Metro Gallery, and Lindsey Brown about Downtown Junk Fest, to find out more about what you can expect when you show up to shop!



Where will Downtown Junk Fest take place?  The Junk Fest will take place on Main Street starting at Third Street going up to Eighth Street. Main Street will be full of Junk Fest vendors, food trucks, and all the local shops will be open.


Can you give us an overview of what will be available? More than 100 vendors will be offering rustic, vintage, repurposed, farmhouse, shabby chic, antiques, salvaged items, and boutique clothing. Our headline sponsor is Wasted in Fort Smith. Owner Angie Littleton is our largest vendor and will have her signature repurposed/reclaimed items available. Beth Templeton, owner of Belle Starr Antiques, will have a variety of vintage and antique items. Van Buren’s vintage shop, Key Lime Crush, will be on hand with great finds. Firefly Boutique and Gifts, and other vendors will host a variety of boutique clothing. Also, there will be lots of unique items, home décor and furniture.


Any food trucks? There will be approximately ten food trucks with additional food items along Main Street.


What about entertainment? We’ll have three locations with live entertainment. The main stage, in front of Van Buren’s historic courthouse, will host a variety of bands such as Justin Edwards Band, and Larry B and the Cradle Rockers, just to name a few. Many more artists will be performing in Blanche Moore Park and the new Freedom Park. Music will begin each morning and continue throughout the evening. Saturday night at 7pm, on the main stage, we will have the drawing to win a brand new 2017 Chevy Camaro. Tickets will be available up until drawing, and all profits will benefit the Center for Arts and Education Building Fund sponsored by Metro Gallery, Marrlin Transit, and Rhodes Chevrolet.


Who is putting the festival on? The Old Town Merchants Association is the presenter of the first annual Downtown Junk Fest with the help of many local volunteers and sponsors.


How difficult was Downtown Junk Fest to put together? Ken, Mark, and Lindsey have been working to organize an event like this for Van Buren for quite some time. Their first step was presenting the idea to The Old Town Merchants Association, and then to the Van Buren Mayor and City Council. At each level, members gave unanimous approval, and from there, sponsors from Van Buren and Fort Smith came on board to make this a successful event. Our thought has always been that small places can do big things when we all work together.


How many volunteers will it take to make the festival run smoothly? This event is growing quickly, and many have signed up to help. We have a range of volunteers from the Merchants on Main Street to the local ROTC. There will be more than fifty helpers, and we welcome more. It will be a great weekend.


What kind of turnout do you expect? Judging by the response on social media and word of mouth, we expect a huge turnout. Other successful Junk Fest events in Arkansas and surrounding states see 20,000 or more. We’re not charging admission, so bring the whole family and make some memories!


Do you think this will become an annual event? That’s our goal! People love Downtown Van Buren because of its beautiful historic buildings and meeting the friendly people from the area. The street is continually growing, and many more shops and restaurants are opening this year. Junk Fest is a great fit for our community.


What happens if it rains that weekend? This event is a rain or shine event. Most Junk Fests are outdoors, and vendors come prepared for the weather. Rain or shine, bring your umbrellas; they are perfect for shade.


How excited are you about the growth in downtown Van Buren? What’s happening in Historic Downtown Van Buren is simply amazing, and just goes to show that when The Old Town Merchants Association (TOTMA) partners with other organizations like Van Buren Originals (VBO) and Advertising & Promotion Commission (A&P), great things can happen. With the support of Mayor Freeman and the City Council, it’s easy to see why Van Buren is quickly becoming a destination not to miss. Main Street with Freedom Park at one end and the upcoming new location of the Center for Art and Education building at the other, make great bookends to all the new stores and restaurants that we have, and those that are soon to open. Future beautification projects include permanent mini parklets, and historic building information stations along each block.



Vendor and food truck applications are still available. Find applications on the Van Buren Downtown Junk Fest Facebook page. Email or call/text 479.414.3320 or 479.806.4540.

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