Mother Nature slowed the kickoff of “Bash on Barraque” on Saturday morning with sprinkles and clouds that indicated more rain was on the way, but by noon sunny skies drew a number of families to Barraque Plaza at Pine Street and Barraque Avenue in downtown Pine Bluff.
Children were taking advantage of the free activities, including face paintings, art and hands-on painting by the Arts & Science Center and the Pine Bluff Art League, games, flower planting, free books, knot-tying demonstrations by Boy Scouts and fire safety demonstrations by Pine Bluff firefighters.
No fees were charged for the activities, but vendors were allowed to charge for food and drinks they were offering, said Joy Blankenship, executive director of Pine Bluff Downtown Development.
“It’s not a big event, but it lets lots of people know about Barraque Plaza,” Blankenship said as she handed out free popcorn and bottles of water.
“So far Barraque Plaza is getting attention,” she added. “The Pine Bluff Realtors are meeting here in mid-June and the Kiwanis Club held a meeting here.”
The shade covering has been a major asset, she said.
The second phase involves plans for a garden on the north side of the plaza.
“It will be a peaceful place to sit,” Blankenship noted.
As she was talking, Pine Bluff High School art students were painting the faces of four children who entered the plaza minutes earlier with a woman.
Daryl Taylor, assistant city attorney and chairman of the Old Towne Committee for Reinventing Downtown, said she was impressed by the mix of “hands-on demonstrative learning” available at the “Bash on Barraque.”
A master gardener, Taylor said children were given clear cups filled with soil and shown how to plant flower seeds, explaining that the clear container will help the young understand the growth process as they watch the root system of the plant develop.
Taylor said her long-term vision involves more people, more activities and bigger crowds at the seasonal programs. The latter includes inviting vendors who are willing to demonstrate how they make their crafts in addition to selling the products.
The committee will host the eighth annual “Old Towne Christmas” in December, Taylor said.
Blankenship said that in addition to the “Bash on Barraque,” the annual Farmers Market Festival was under way at Saracen Landing just north of the plaza and two activities were planned Saturday at Regional Park.
For more information about reserving the plaza for groups and activities, call the Downtown Development office at (870) 536-8742.