Quality of Life
Having opportunities to “go, see, and do” is part of what distinguishes good communities from great ones. The Fort Smith region is rich in recreational and outdoor treasures, giving residents the chance to enjoy a wealth of experiences right in their own backyard.
The Fort Smith Region is proud of its rich heritage. While each community has its own unique story, the region as a whole, shares an incredible connection to the country’s western roots and its expansion to the Pacific coast. The FSRA area encompasses the Arkansas-Oklahoma state border, which during its early days, was the dividing line between the well-known law-enforcing town of Fort Smith and what was deemed “Indian Territory.”
Throughout Arkansas and Oklahoma, one-of-a-kind structures can be found that hold much meaning to the towns they are in and their citizens. These buildings, some dating back nearly two centuries ago, reflect the architecture, style, and materials of the times they were constructed. Many local gems are featured on the National Register of Historic Places, including several downtown districts.
Local communities have a great appreciation for their historical treasures and work diligently to preserve their past, while also promoting progress and growth. Downtowns and Main Streets are great examples of this in most FSRA cities. Many have maintained their charm over the decades, while some have experienced significant revitalization in recent years.
This wealth of historical sites contributes to the area’s thriving tourism industry. Visitors travel from across the country to learn about the area and its past. In Fort Smith, construction will soon begin on National U.S. Marshals Museum, which welcome guests from the around the world. The multi-million-dollar facility will showcase the incredible contributions that U.S. Marshals have made to the security of the country for more than 200 years, and the role that cities, such as Fort Smith, have played in that pursuit.
The area experiences four distinguishable seasons. Spring and fall are typically very pleasant times of the year, with mild temperatures and moderate levels of precipitation. Average annual rainfall for Fort Smith is 45 inches, with the city and surrounding area generally seeing only five or so inches of snow per year. The average annual temperature in Fort Smith is 61 degrees, with the area generally experiencing its coldest weather in January (average annual cold temperature is 29 degrees) and peak heat in July and August (average annual high is 93). The rainiest months for the region are April through June, and September through November.
Click here to learn more about weather patterns in the Fort Smith Area.
Western Arkansas and Eastern Oklahoma is a region well-known for its scenic outdoors and abundance of recreational activities. Local waterways, including rivers, lakes, and streams make for great fishing, boating, and swimming. Hills and mountains create beautiful landscapes across the two states, creating ideal spots for hiking and camping. A number of state parks, including Mount Magazine and nearby Lake Fort Smith, also make for great outdoor getaways.
The arts abound in the Fort Smith region, with several prominent museums, performance groups, and cultural centers calling the area home. Highlights include the Fort Smith Regional Art Museum, which has welcomed a number of domestic and internationally-renowned exhibits since its inception. The Center of Art and Education in Van Buren features a new exhibit each month, showcasing the talents of artists from throughout the region. In 2016, CAE announced plans to relocate to Van Buren’s historic Main Street and renovate one of the main storefronts into a beautiful gallery and meeting center.
The area also boasts Arkansas’ oldest symphony. The nearly-century old Fort Smith Symphony is comprised of more than 100 talented musicians from around the country. Each year, the symphony welcomes acclaimed guest performers and presents an elaborate season that celebrates classical and modern compositions, and also includes favorites such as the Christmas Concert and the “Earquake” Educational series for students.
The Fort Smith Little Theater is another Arkansas gem. The volunteer-led community theater has been delighting audiences since 1947. A number of other organizations, including the Community School of the Arts, and the Young Actors Guild (YAG), also promote arts among area youth and provide unique opportunities to create and perform.
Community festivals are celebrated in nearly every town in the FSRA partnership region. Many date back well-over a century, celebrating the town histories, popular industries and music. Some draw visitors from throughout the country, with a few garnering national accolades.. Favorites include the Poteau Balloon Fest, Altus Grape Fest, and the Riverfront Blues Festival, among others. In recent years, new events have begun drawing large crowds and further promoting the arts, including Fort Smith’s The Peacemaker Festival and The Unexpected Project.
Poteau Balloon Festival
Altus Grape Fest
Riverfront Blues Festival