Fort Curtis Dedication – Friday, May 11th

The May 11th dedication of Fort Curtis, the replica Union fort located in downtown Helena, will mark the first in a series of events launching the Civil War Helena tourism initiative and commemorating the Battle of Helena. In 2013, Helena will be the focus of Arkansas’ Civil War Sesquicentennial Commemoration, positioning Helena to draw both regional and national attention to its unique and multi-faceted story.

The block-long reproduction of Fort Curtis completed at the corner of York and Columbia streets is the largest of its kind in the region. The structure and the accompanying interpretive signage recall the human stories of those affected by the city’s occupation by Federal troops from July 1862 through the Civil War’s end in 1865 and the Confederacy’s failed attempt on July 4, 1863 to return the city to Southern control. Members of the Helena community have worked to develop the fort and more than 27 other Civil War sites, with the hope that this initiative will act as a catalyst for economic growth through increased tourism.

The May 11 event will include local and state officials, historians, re-enactors, and numerous civic leaders and community residents focused on building the area’s future by promoting its heritage. Other Civil War Helena events slated for 2012 include the opening of Freedom Park, the first official “Network to Freedom” Underground Railroad site in Arkansas.  Both Fort Curtis and Freedom Park will be managed by the Delta Cultural Center upon completion.

Farmers Market Gearing Up for 2012 Season

Last year's market at Court Square Park.

Saturday, June 9, marks the opening day of the 2012 Helena Farmers Market. This year the market will be launching several exciting updates and additions. Last year, Main Street Helena received two grants on behalf of the market: a $39,215 USDA Farmers Market Promotion Grant and a $6,000 Arkansas Community Foundation Grant. With this support Main Street Helena has hired a part-time market manager who will provide more robust program support and leadership. Additionally, the market has worked with Thrive through their Design Measures program to develop new signage and marketing materials to expand the market’s reach.

Potentially the most impactful improvement to the market will be the addition of equipment necessary to accept EBT and SNAP benefits. Market leadership is developing a token system that will allow residents receiving benefits to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables from market vendors. This development will significantly expand healthy eating options for downtown residents, with the closest grocery store located almost two miles from downtown.