The Randolph County Heritage Museum sits unnoticed and unvisited by much of the citizenry of Randolph County, but it remains an asset to our community. In 2017 Pocahontas hosted the annual Arkansas Historical association meeting. I have been a member of this association for a number of years and have attended meetings in Fayetteville, Little Rock, and Fort Smith over the years. While I had yet to move home (at the time I was living in Fayetteville where I taught at the University of Arkansas while completing my dissertation,) I was proud of my hometown. Throughout the weekend I heard time and time again from members of the AHA what a lovely town Pocahontas was. Now some of those folks may have been telling the local boy what he wanted to hear, but many of them simply don’t know me that well and had no idea that I was born and raised right here in Randolph County. Another complement that I heard had to do with our museum. Many AHA members commented on what a nice museum we had and how lucky we were to have it on the court square.
We owe thanks to many people for the vision and leadership since the museum opened. In fact, the Randolph County Heritage Museum has outlasted the statistics—most small museums close after just a few years and ours is going strong. I became the director of the museum on June 21 so I am still getting the hang of things. Having said that I am impressed with a small but dedicated group of volunteers who donate much of their time to keep the doors open. Many people may not be aware, but the museum is owned by Five Rivers Historic Preservation, Inc. While I am the director I could not do it all alone, I depend on our staff and on the members of our community advisory board.
Some changes are taking place at the museum this summer. For one we will be posting new expanded hours soon. Some of you have encountered a closed museum when you have attempted to visit, and we are sorry for that. We are working to address the problem. Another change is the naming of the museum annex. Several years ago Five Rivers Historic Preservation named the annex for Joe Martin. Many of you are aware but it is worth repeating, Joe is one of the big reason we even have a museum. In fact, Joe gave us the building. Soon you will see new signage on the annex. Also, you will soon notice a beefed-up gift shop—come see us for all your Pocahontas, Randolph County, and Arkansas made gifts as well as a large selection of local, Arkansas, and southern themed books. Lastly, if you visit the museum you will see that exhibits are changing in the annex.
On August 6 we will kick off our “Summer Lecture Series.” In the past we have focused on first hand tales of growing up in Randolph County and Pocahontas. This year we are expanding this out and focusing on local and regional history. I hope you will make plans to attend these six great lectures, (well maybe five great lectures since I am giving one of them.)
Last year the museum fundraiser “A Night for the Museum” was a huge success. We are aiming to make it an annual event. This year our gala fundraiser will be held on October 27. The event will kick off at 6:00 pm at the Rendezvous Event Center in historic downtown Pocahontas. Once again, the featured entertainment will have a local connection. The duo Tom & Hebron will perform. We will have a live auction and a silent auction, and all the proceeds will help fund the museum. If you haven’t been to the museum in a while I want to invite you to stop by soon.
I hope you will visit soon,