Sept. 29 Summer Festival will support the rebirth of Mansfield's Dixie Theatre
The old Dixie Theatre in downtown Mansfield, Ark., has likely seen its “last picture show,” but a tenacious team is working toward its restoration as a live music and community theater and meeting place.
A series of small concerts has been held to raise funds, but the Dixie’s supporters are stepping up Sept. 29 to present a major outdoor concert from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Mansfield City Lake Park. The park itself is growing with more cleared land for recreation and a new covered pavilion that will be finished at festival time.
“We’ll have the bands on a trailer stage,” explained Becky Walker, who, with her husband, Robert, has been one of the planners of the small concerts and the festival. Six acts are invited to perform: Southern Sounds, Crossroads, the Rusty Plow Band, Lakeview Bluegrass Boys, the Chastains (Willing Heart) and Common Ground, Walker said.
Admission, sold at the gate, will be $5; free for children 12 and younger accompanied by an adult. Local civic clubs will sell pulled pork sandwiches and refreshments. No alcohol is allowed.
The Dixie Theatre restoration initiative volunteers plan to move forward patiently to the next steps in returning the 100-year-old building to a community asset.
Since 2005 when the building was purchased by the city, progress has steadily been made to obtain grants, have architectural plans drawn, clean and stabilize the building. The Fort Chaffee Redevelopment Authority donated 300 vintage theater seats to the project. The seats are now stored in the theater.
The next step will be to completely secure the roof and add utility service, complete interior and exterior remodeling and build a stage with light and sound systems, Walker said.
Donations to the Dixie Theatre restoration project are tax-deductible and may be mailed to the City of Mansfield, c/o Dixie Theatre, P.O. Box 307, Mansfield, AR 72944
A Facebook page called “Mansfield’s Dixie Theatre” has photos of theater memorabilia and an ongoing discussion of its history and future.