Subscribe

Annual Arlington in April festival highlights town's rich history

By Updated: April 28, 2019 12:35 PM CT | Published: April 28, 2019 10:43 AM CT
<strong>Arlington firefighter Cody Conley holds the door for Philip Huntington as he adjusts his daughter Sarah&rsquo;s toy firefighter&rsquo;s helmet during the town's 29th annual spring festival, Arlington in April.&nbsp;Thousands turned out on Saturday, April 27, in Arlington&rsquo;s historic Depot Square for the event.</strong> (Patrick Lantrip/Daily Memphian)

Arlington firefighter Cody Conley holds the door for Philip Huntington as he adjusts his daughter Sarah’s toy firefighter’s helmet during the town's 29th annual spring festival, Arlington in April. Thousands turned out on Saturday, April 27, in Arlington’s historic Depot Square for the event. (Patrick Lantrip/Daily Memphian)

Thousands turned out this weekend in Arlington’s historic Depot Square for the town’s 29th annual spring festival, Arlington in April.

Visitors were greeted by live music, games and activities for children, and more than 120 vendors featuring food, crafts, jewelry, art and other products and services.

The event was sponsored by the Arlington chapter of Association for the Preservation of Tennessee Antiquities (APTA). The statewide nonprofit, celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, focuses on preserving historic sites and making sure they are open for future generations.

APTA President Debra Wiseman said the organization was happy with the turnout for Saturday's festival.

Among the attractions for visitors was the restored and preserved historic log cabin, post office, museum and blacksmith shop – a replica of the blacksmith shop from the 1880s. Inside, blacksmiths Corey McCrone and Kevin Duley hammered out horseshoes for onlookers. The bellows for the forge, one of the few working forges in Tennessee, were restored earlier this year.

“So it’s not just a crafts fair festival. You’re getting to see what Arlington was like back when it was created,” said John Hinders, APTA chairman of the Blacksmith Shop Committee.

The Arlington chapter of the APTA counts more than 90 members, with about 40 helping out for this year’s festival. In addition to vendors lining the streets surrounding the square, the brick-and-mortar shops in the area were open for business.

“This is one of our busier days of the year,” said Lynn McKee, owner of Classic Trends at Depot Square.

The gift shop, which opened 16 years ago, carries ladies’ apparel, candles, picture frames, jewelry and more.

“It’s always fun to see everyone come down to the square and mingle,” McKee said. “We get a good bit of traffic in here and usually have a good sales day.”

Entertainment this year was provided by Joy McDaniel Academy of Dance, The Michael Brothers Band, Faith Music Academy, Georgi Penn, Sons of Priapus and the Germantown School of Rock Band.

Money raised from vendor fees will be used by the APTA to fund new restoration projects and to maintain the historic sites year-round.

One recent APTA restoration project included rebuilding the chapel at the Holy Innocent Cemetery, about three blocks from the square. Former Arlington mayor Sam T. Wilson saved the original windows of the chapel when the structure blew down in a storm in the early 1990s, and the windows were restored by an Arlington resident and reinstalled in the chapel two years.

Other recent APTA work included repairing the steps to the blacksmith shop and painting the historic post office.

“We’re happy to watch Arlington grow into a much larger community, as along as everyone preserves the history and respects it,” Hinders said. “Arlington will never really change if that’s preserved.”


Michael Waddell: New farmers market open-air pavilions planned for Bartlett and Arlington


The festival’s focus on the past contrasts with new development happening or planned around the square. A new two-story commercial building, with office space upstairs and retail planned on the ground floor, was completed recently by Jon Moultrie and Ryan Tucker, partners at Enterprise Realtors. They are partnering with Kim and Bobby Winstead.

Brendalay Grill is in the process of building a new, larger location in the square, Greenlee Street Offices has completed its new building and will build a second one, and A-Town Crossfit is working on its new Arlington Fitness building.

On the western end of the Depot Square historic district, the Forrest Street Park campus is also getting new amenities, including a restroom, pavilion, concession stand, playground and additional parking, along with a 700- to 1,000-person amphitheater.

Also on the horizon, Bob Wilson, owner of Arlington-based H Saga/Port Alliance, is planning a $5 million, two-story project in the square that will include retail space on the ground floor with condos on top.

<strong>Gracie Gott (left) hurdles a rotating bar while her friend Eliza Rector (center) anticipates her impending leap of faith during a game called &ldquo;meltdown&rdquo; at the Arlington in April festival on Saturday, April 27.</strong> (Patrick Lantrip/Daily Memphian)

Gracie Gott (left) hurdles a rotating bar while her friend Eliza Rector (center) anticipates her impending leap of faith during a game called “meltdown” at the Arlington in April festival on Saturday, April 27. (Patrick Lantrip/Daily Memphian)

Topics

Arlington
Michael Waddell

Michael Waddell

Michael Waddell is a native Memphian with more than 20 years of professional writing and editorial experience, working most recently with The Daily News and High Ground News.


Comment On This Story

Email Editions

Sign up for our morning and evening editions, plus breaking news.