By Leilani Roberts Ott
Lottie Hufford said the little town of Webbers Falls has been asleep for a long time and it is coming to life with the opening of Showtime@theFalls.
The town will be bustling Saturday like it did in a photo from the Webbers Falls Historical Society, where a row of businesses are seen in the 1930s near the old U.S. 64 bridge crossing the Arkansas River.
Showtime@theFalls’ grand opening, Show and Shine Car Show, and Music Show starts at 1 p.m. with the car show and continues with a ribbon cutting at 2 p.m. Those who have made reservations will have dinner and then everyone is welcome to hear The Timekiller Band at 7 p.m. in the newly renovated community center and concert hall.
Floyd Adams, who is in the band, bought and remodeled a couple of buildings near the river in Webbers Falls. He hopes the building will be used for concerts, weddings, plays or any other event. His band, The Timekiller Band, plays there at 7 p.m. the first and third Saturdays of the month. Admission is $5. The Webbers Falls Historical Society Museum is next door. It will be open to the public Saturday, too.
The newly renovated building, Showtime@the Falls, is bringing people back to the town, Hufford said.
That makes Adams and his band happy. They started “jammin’” together about four years ago. The band includes Adams, vocals and bass; Johnny Martin, acoustic guitar and vocals; L.D. Clay, acoustic guitar and vocals; Gerald Ritter, fiddle and vocals; and Tommy Terrapin, drummer.
Adams, who lives in the Tenkiller Lake area, said his band played in the old Webbers Falls Civic Center last December. The people came and wanted to hear more of their classic country and some gospel tunes. He bought the building and remodeled 6,000 square feet with open rafters reaching 16 feet, barnwood and iron decor, a dance floor, cushion seats, dressing rooms, stage and concession area where you can get an individual homemade pecan pie made by Sandy Swearingen, owner of the Burger Barn in town.
“There’s a real market for people our age,” Adams said. “There’s no drinking.”
He believes his band is good calling his fiddle player “exceptional” and touting that member Martin played with Freddy Fender for about eight years.
“They are very good,” Hufford said.
Linda Miller, who is secretary/treasurer of the society, along with her husband, George, who is president, is excited about the activity along the street Saturday. She loves telling stories about the history of the town. The drug store that is in the photo from the 1930s is where the museum is now located and Showtime@theFalls is next door.
She said Dr. L. M. Thomas had his office in the back of the old drug store. He retired in the 1960s. He was the doctor for the community. She’s working on compiling a list of all the babies he delivered.
The museum has a special section honoring veterans from the area.
“We’re preserving the history,” she said. “Everything has been given or loaned.”
There is a photo in the museum of The Calaboose, which is still standing.
“We open it for special occasions,” Miller said. “When the flood of 1943 occurred, people were trying to get away from the flood waters. The entire downtown was flooded. People were on rooftops. The city marshal, volunteers and men from Camp Gruber were taking people out in boats. The marshal was working hard and suddenly remembered he had a man in the jail. When he got to him and opened the cell, the water was up to his shoulders. Got him out in time.”
Inez Thomas, now 90, and the former postmistress of Webbers Falls, recalls going by boat to the post office and seeing letters floating around, Miller said.
One of the new displays is about outlaw Jack Spaniard. The story has many turns like a soap opera that involves a sheriff, Judge Parker, Belle Starr testifying, a dog and a dead man.
“He was convicted because of a dog,” Miller said.
There are also displays from the I-40 bridge collapse where several people died. Hufford’s husband, Dr. Stan Hufford, a chiropractor, gave adjustments to workers and volunteers when the bridge fell into the Arkansas River taking several vehicles with it.
“He gave adjustments and I gave prayers and hugs,” Lottie Hufford said.
Today’s Webbers Falls has a “wonderful park” with coin operated showers, and electric and water hookups for camping.
“If you go down the street, you will run into the river,” she said.
With all the music, car show and fun Saturday, she believes “we’re getting life back into Webbers Falls.”
If you go
WHAT: Showtime@theFalls grand opening, Show and Shine Car Show, and Music Show.
WHEN: 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, car show; 2 p.m., ribbon cutting; and 7 p.m., concert featuring The Timekiller Band.
WHERE: Showtime@theFalls, downtown Webbers Falls.
ADMISSION: Free to see the car show with $15 entry fee for car owners and $5 to attend the concert.