After several years of raising awareness for the cause and fundraising, the Bass Reeves Legacy Initiative will officially dedicate the statue of the famous lawman on Saturday, May 26, at Pendergraft Park in downtown Fort Smith. As the only equestrian statue in Arkansas, the larger than life Marshal Reeves will greet visitors entering the city from the west. As visitors cross the Arkansas River from Oklahoma and enter downtown Fort Smith, the magnificent stature will be first sight to see in our city of rich western history.
A week of special events are planned beginning with the “Artistic Grit” Art Exhibition opening on Friday, May 18 featuring both paintings and sculpture by artist Harold T. Holden. The one week exhibition in the rotunda of the Convention Center will be open through May 25 during regular Convention Center hours.
The Fort Smith Museum of History will host a“Meet the Artist and Welcome Party” on Thursday, May 24 with a cookout in the museum parking lot. In appreciation of our supporters, museum members are invited to enjoy beer, brats and beans and meet Bass Reeves sculptor Harold T. Holden. The event is open to non-members for $10 per person. Guests may enjoy live music by local band Blue Fiddle.
Dedication Day activities will begin at 10:00 a. m. on Saturday, May 26, with the unveiling of the statue at 10:30. Special guests include Mistress of Ceremonies Angela Taylor of 40/29 News, actor James Pickens, Jr. of “Grey’s Anatomy,” Alyse Eady, 2010 Miss Arkansas, the Fort Smith Community Band and local musicians Bobby Lopez and Hershel Parker.
The Dedication Day Celebration Festival will continue throughout the afternoon with events scheduled at various locations.
The museum will host several activities through the afternoon:
1:30: Talk with artist Harold T. Holden
2:00: Talk and book signing with author Art Burton, Black Badge, Silver Star
Bass Reeves portrayal with T. Baridi Nkokheli
3:00: Reading by authorVaunda Nelson, Bad News for Outlaws, the awarding winning children’s book. Followed by a book signing.
4:00: Book signing with Judge Paul L. Brady, The Black Badge. Judge Brady is the great-nephew of Bass Reeves.
For a complete list of events see the Southwest Time Record or visit:
Bass Reeves was born a slave in Texas in the mid-19th century. After escaping, Reeves spent many years in Indian Territory before settling in Van Buren after the Civil War. Judge Isaac Parker asked Reeves to become a deputy because of his vast knowledge of Indian Territory. Reeves brought in over 3,000 outlaws in his career.