Despite lifeguard shortage, Fort Smith has plenty free of activities for the summer

·10 min read

Despite a lifeguard shortage in Fort Smith, a lot is ahead for Memorial Day weekend and this summer.

City of Fort Smith maintenance painters update Creekmore's pool for the summer.
City of Fort Smith maintenance painters update Creekmore's pool for the summer.

Creekmore Pool has had to shorten its hours due to a lifeguard shortage, but the city has contacted local swim teams to recruit additional guards.

Sara Deuster, Deputy Director for Fort Smith Parks & Recreation said the city is advertising for the openings as much as possible.

"Apart from advertising open positions, there is not much more we can do," she said. "We appreciate our citizens sharing our job posting because it helps reach a greater audience."

Visit Janet Huckabee River Valley Nature Center

This nature center is built on 170 acres of land that was part of Fort Chaffee.

Their regularly scheduled activities are daily "Critter Crunch" animal feeding at 2 p.m.

On Fridays the center has snake feeding and on Saturdays fish feeding is available in the large aquarium.

On Saturdays from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. staff members assist boaters on Wells Lake for their canoe and kayak program. A parent or guardian must accompany children. Participants are required to wear a life jacket, which is provided.

Janet Huckabee Nature Center's summer program flyer.
Janet Huckabee Nature Center's summer program flyer.

Every Saturday at 2 p.m. people can watch the fish chow down on their food in the large aquarium. At 2:30 p.m. get ready for beginner's archery. Bows and arrows, safety and basic instruction provided.

The center is hosting an Arkansas Boating Education Course Saturday, May 21 that will teach the fundamentals of safe and responsible boating. It's free and open to all ages.

Anyone born on or after Jan. 1, 1986 must complete a boater education course and carry a valid boater education card to operate a motorboat powered by an engine of 10 horsepower or more (including a personal watercraft) in Arkansas.

Take the class, pass the test, and receive your boater safety card.

Join PRADCO Outdoor Brands for their "Fishing Day" of an angler fishing course for all ages. Hosted at the nature center on 10 a.m. Saturday, June 11.

Sebastian Rogers, seated, joins Rylan Lamb, left, and Bently Osburn, Friday, June 12, 2020, for a fishing trip to the Janet Huckabee Arkansas River Valley Nature Center and Wells Lake.
Sebastian Rogers, seated, joins Rylan Lamb, left, and Bently Osburn, Friday, June 12, 2020, for a fishing trip to the Janet Huckabee Arkansas River Valley Nature Center and Wells Lake.

Fishing experts will be on site and demonstrations will be given every hour. Free giveaways will be available.

Check out the nature center's archery camp on the following dates:

June 16th (9 am to 10 am) - all ages, registration is not required.

June 22nd (9 am to 12 pm) - ages 7 to 11 registration is required.

June 23rd (9 am to 12 pm) - ages 12 to 15 registration is required.

Archery summer camp at Janet Huckabee Nature Center.
Archery summer camp at Janet Huckabee Nature Center.

Are you interested in learning how to catfish? Come join instructors by the lake side at the nature center for the evening on June 24.

Basics of how to target catfish and time with poles in the water will be the focus. All equipment will be provided. If you plan to fish, you must have an Arkansas Fishing license if you are 16 years of age or older. Registration is not required.

Do you have creative children? Check out the nature center's summer art workshop on colored pencils! Hosted June 29-30 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Pre-registration is required in advance by calling 479-452-3993 or by stopping at the front desk of the nature center. This class will be for kids ages 6-9 years old.

April and Daniel Ross spend time with their daughter Peyton, 7, fishing on Wells Lake, Friday, June 12, 2020, at the Janet Huckabee Arkansas River Valley Nature Center.
April and Daniel Ross spend time with their daughter Peyton, 7, fishing on Wells Lake, Friday, June 12, 2020, at the Janet Huckabee Arkansas River Valley Nature Center.

The nature center's events don't end here, check out their summer fishing camp dates:

July 7th 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. - all ages, registration is not required.

July 13th 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. - ages 7 to 11 registration is required.

July 14th 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. - ages 12 to 15 registration is required.

July 21st 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. - all ages registration is not required.

The nature center is hosting 3D archery 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, July 15.

"Learn the basics of archery and try your hand at shooting some of our 3D targets found at the nature center."

All ages are invited and all equipment is provided. Registration is not required.

Shooting sports camp offered at Janet Huckabee Nature Center.
Shooting sports camp offered at Janet Huckabee Nature Center.

A shooting sports camp at the nature center will teach a variety of ages about firearm safety, how to aim, and more. Register by calling the nature center at 479-452-3993.

July 28th 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. - all ages, registration is not required.

Aug. 3rd 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. - ages 7 to 11 registration is required.

August 4th 9 a.m to 12 p.m - ages 12 to 15 registration is required.

Visit the Fort Smith Museum of History or the city's other historic sites

The museum will host a children's summer reading program called "Stagecoaches and Stories" every Thursday in June from 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Children and parents are invited for a different book reading in the museum's children’s series highlighting the role of stagecoaches and their impact on American history.

The books will engage children with thrilling historical stories of women stagecoach drivers, “Stagecoach Sal”, and “Fearless Mary”, both pioneers in their roles. Other lessons will focus on Fort Smith’s role in the development of the “Butterfield Trial.”

Old stagecoach car inside Fort Smith Museum of History.
Old stagecoach car inside Fort Smith Museum of History.

Stories shared with children will also show the inner workings of a stagecoach, the miles travelled by drivers and passengers, the dangers they incurred, and the role stagecoaches played during the Gold Rush of the 1840s and 1850s and the expansion of the West.

The museum will host its second annual Christmas in July VIP Party luau on Thursday, July 21 from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Entertainment includes Traditional Hawaiian Dancers, Don Bailey and band playing Hawaiian tunes, silent auction featuring a sneak peek at some of the unique offerings from vendors, and a live auction.

Dinner will be an elevated take on Hawaiian favorites complimented with tropical beverages, beer and wine. Must be 21 to attend.

Outside the Fort Smith Museum of History.
Outside the Fort Smith Museum of History.

Christmas in July continues the next day, Friday, July 22 from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with unique vendors at the Bonneville House, The Clayton House and the Fort Smith Museum of History.

The Fort Smith National Historic Site, located on the banks of the Arkansas River, contains the remains of two American military forts, a jail and a courthouse. The exhibits focus on Fort Smith's role in American westward expansion during the 19th century.

Fort Smith's visitor center, Miss Laura's social club, is the one out of seven "row houses" that lined the Old West red light district and stood the test of time. Now, it is the only former bordello on the National Register of Historic Places, and it has been fully restored to its original grandeur.

Creekmore Park and Community Center Events

On Thursday, June 9 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. the park will host a water gun tie-dye event.

Creekmore community center will host "Kids in the Kitchen" from June 14-16. Pre-registration is required.

Go down a giant slip-n-slide on Thursday, June 23 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Martin Luther King Jr. Park.

Try your luck in an egg drop race on Thursday, July 7 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. in Creekmore Park.

Unleash your inner-ninja at Creekmore Park's Ninja Warrior Course from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Thursday, July 21.

The wheelchair accessible swing at Creekmore Park.
The wheelchair accessible swing at Creekmore Park.

Go fishing at Carol Ann Cross park on August 4 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

City Play Day is August 6 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Martin Luther King Jr. Park.

City Splash Pads

Fort Smith city splash pads are open on Memorial Day!

The MLK Splash Pad is at 1815 N Greenwood Ave.

The Tilles Park Splash Pad is at 3700 Grand Ave.

The Compass Park Splash Pad is at 100 N A St.

The Woodlawn Park Splash Pad is at 2006 N 6th St.

The MLK Splash Pad will open on Memorial Day.
The MLK Splash Pad will open on Memorial Day.

Movies in the Park

Creekmore Park will show "Encanto" on June 10.

Park TBD for showing of "Glory Road" on June 17.

Tilles Park has "Raya and the Last Dragon" showing June 24.

"Luca" will play at Creekmore Park on July 8.

"Clifford" will play at Tilles Park on July 15.

"Sonic The Hedgehog" will play at Creekmore Park on July 22.

All movies begin at dark.

Take a walk on one of the city's many trails or visit parks!

More: New dog park to open in Fort Smith this summer

Get ready to experience history at the Massard Prairie Battlefield Park. It was the site of a Civil War battle, during which Confederate soldiers used hit-and-run tactics to score a victory over the Union side. The location is also the site of Civil War re-enactments and features a walking trail.

Trail at Massard Prairie Battlefield Park.
Trail at Massard Prairie Battlefield Park.

Ben Geren Regional Park provides patrons with a range of recreational activities. They offer rugged trails for mountain bikers and hiking and paved bike trails that are ADA-accessible. The park also offers tennis courts, batting cages, and a golf course.

Ben Geren trail is maintained by Sebastian County. It starts at Zero Street near Massard Creek, extends for 1.8 miles south along Massard Creek intersecting Planters Road Trail and connecting to Landfill Loop, to end at Massard Road South Trail and Fort Chaffee West Trail.

Chad Colley Boulevard trail runs 1.75 miles long through the new section of the road from the south end of Massard Road to the Steep Hill Road and Rye Hill Road east intersection near Riley Farm subdivision.

Chaffee Crossing trail System is a join project with the Fort Chaffee Redevelopment Authority for the construction of a 7.1 mile trail system. Get ready for a long walk!

Greg Smith River trail is a multi-use trail between the Arkansas River and Riverfront Drive. It extends 6.3 miles and is lit at night. The trail starts at the River Park Events Building and ties into Fort Smith Park. This trail features art installations, a bridge and river views.

Massard Road trail starts at Jackson Street near Phoenix Avenue and the bikeway on Massard extends south to the Zero Street trail. This paved trail is 1.4 miles long and is east of the airport property.

Mill Creek trail is 0.6 miles of gravel that runs along a portion of Mill Creek. It starts off Jenny Lind Road behind Sutherlands and extends along the creek connecting to Phoenix Avenue near Jack's Skateland.

Ronnie Udouj Walking trail is 1.5 miles that spur off to allow users to shorten their walk. A portion of the trail is paved while the rest is gravel. It features a pedestrian bridge that crosses over the Sunnymede Creek.

Visit Fort Smith's Regional Art Museum

"RAM Saturdays" are back with open studios for children and families, covering world culture themes this summer. Every Saturday from 12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. or 2-3:30 p.m.

Audra Titsworth and her daughter Junie enjoy art time together at RAM Saturdays.
Audra Titsworth and her daughter Junie enjoy art time together at RAM Saturdays.

"Explore, learn, create and take home unique works of art." Registration is required.

RAM Sketch Tuesdays with Stacy Bee is a free, weekly online art class via Zoom or Facebook Live open to ages 10+. Follow along at home with your own art supplies and practice techniques taught by Bee.

Levitt AMP Music Series free Thursday concerts

Fort Smith is again the beneficiary of a Mortimer & Mimi Levitt Foundation grant that supports free, family concerts on the riverfront.

The concerts are presented with 64.6 Downtown and the City of Fort Smith.

Bring your lawn chairs and picnic blankets to the Riverfront Amphitheatre at 121 Riverfront Drive.

May 26: Anitta Smith, Fort Smith native worship and gospel artist

June 2: Hudost, an electric-folk, world-rock musical duo

Hudost will perform June 2 on the riverfront in downtown Fort Smith.
Hudost will perform June 2 on the riverfront in downtown Fort Smith.

June 9: Dawson Hollow, American Indie-Folk-Rock band of five siblings

June 16: New Breed Brass Band, a New Orleans second line brass band

June 23: Michael Fields Jr., jazz artist and bassist

June 30: The Claudettes, Chicago piano blues, rockabilly and punk

July 7: Gangstagrass, bluegrass, hip-hop and beyond

July 14: Chantae Cann, jazz, soul and gospel, world rhythm and hip hop

Free admission, all concerts start at 6 p.m.

Check back for our summer event calendar coming soon!

This article originally appeared on Fort Smith Times Record: Free things to do this summer in Fort Smith