Lonoke hosts music festival, celebrates 150th anniversary

LONOKE  On Saturday, Oct. 15, the city of Lonoke, in partnership with the Lonoke Lions Club, will host a free music and arts festival in downtown Lonoke.

The festival honors Idessa Malone, one of the first African American women to own a recording label in the country who has ties to Lonoke. She owned the Staff Record Label in Detroit, Mich., and was a DJ for a blues show there and later a gospel show on the Lonoke radio station, KWTK. She passed away in 1987 and is buried in Sunset Cemetery in Lonoke.

The Idessa Music and Arts Festival will feature regional blues groups and local gospel singers. The blues groups appearing are Shannon Boshears from Little Rock, Terry “Big T” Williams from Clarksdale, Miss., the Billy Gibson Quartet from Memphis and Griffin and Friends from Northwest Arkansas. The gospel performers include the St. John Praise Team, the First United Methodist Praise Band, and the Harvest Fellowship Praise Band.  

The visual arts component of the festival includes street artists with a People’s Choice award, art vendors with a variety of quality, handmade items, and makerspaces where attendees create take-home art projects. There is something for children of all ages!

Lonoke Mayor Trae Reed expressed, “I’m excited to see Lonoke stepping up and celebrating Idessa Malone through arts, gospel and blues. I have a high level of confidence … it will not disappoint.”

Plan to spend a day at the festival. Makerspaces will be open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The mainstage opens with gospel performances from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. and transitions to blues performances from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Art vendors will be open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and food trucks will be available throughout the day.

More information about the festival and opportunities to sponsor is available at Idessa Music & Arts Festival (idessamusicartsfestival.com).