On New Year’s Eve 2007, Fayetteville, Ark., hosted its final First Night celebration on the Fayetteville Square. For the three years since then, the Square has been silent on December 31.
In 2011, Lauren Embree set out to change that.
“We founded a nonprofit group whose mission is to create opportunities for Fayetteville artists to exhibit their work,” Embree said. “By hosting a New Year’s Eve event, we were able to showcase multiple different types of arts and artists all in one place.”
The event, dubbed “Last Night Fayetteville”, featured more than 20 local performers and acts in 8 venues. They included rock, folk, and jazz bands, children’s performers, jugglers, stand-up comedians, belly dancers, and magicians. There was also a giant puppet parade, as well as a sculpture garden and mini-film festival.
“We have all of these great art experiences in Fayetteville, and many people don’t know about them,” Embree said. “By bringing the city together on one night, we can really highlight many local talents and boost local pride.”
One of the other ways the town paid homage to its local roots was through a “hog drop”. A razorback hog, the mascot of the Univ. of Arkansas and a local symbol, was represented as a paper-mache piece that was slowly dropped during a midnight countdown. It’s like the ball in Times Square, but a more local tribute.
“It was just a great way for us to celebrate all that we have in this city,” Embree said. “It was exciting to turn around at midnight, during the fireworks display, and see all of the people celebrating their first moments of 2012 together with us.”
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