Mena’s signature event, the Annual Lum & Abner Festival is the first weekend in June at Janssen Park in Mena, Arkansas. This event is presented by the Mena Advertising & Promotion Commission and has been steadily growing year after year. Live entertainment is a huge part of the event as it runs all day both days of the festival.
In addition to live entertainment, enjoy wonderful arts and crafts, great food, the awesome Lum & Abner Car, Truck, and Motorcycle Show, Kiddie Korner with playground and bounce houses, the Lum & Abner 5K Run/Walk, the Lum & Abner 3 on 3 Basketball Tournament, the Lum & Abner Softball Tournament, the beautiful Quilt Show, Fishing Derbies, the RE/MAX Baby Crawlin’ Contest, the Pig Races and a fan favorite The Outlaws Gunfighting Group… and more!
Vendor Reservation Forms and Sponsorship Forms will be available to download approximately January or February of each year.
List of Past Events and Things to do at Lum & Abner:
5K Run Walk
The Outlaws Gunfighting Group
The Pig Races
Seniors Fishing Derby (55+)
Physically Challenged Fishing Derby
Youth Fishing Derby (ages 5-12)
Ouachita Quilt Show
Lum & Abner Classic Car Show
Lum & Abner Softball Tournament (Tapley Park)
Lum & Abner 3 on 3 Basketball Tournament
RE/MAX Baby Crawlin’ Contest
Headliner – Friday Night:
Opening Act – Friday Night:
Headliner – Saturday Night:
Opening Act – Saturday Night:
THE HISTORY OF LUM AND ABNER
Lum and Abner was an American network radio comedy program created by Chester Lauck and Norris Goff that was aired from 1931 to 1954. Modeled on life in the small town of Waters, Arkansas, near where Lauck and Goff grew up, the show proved immensely popular. In 1936, Waters changed its name to Pine Ridge after the show’s fictional town.
Jot ’em Down Store
Created by co-stars Chester Lauck (who played Columbus Edwards, albeit he called himself “Lum Eddards”) and Norris Goff (Abner Peabody), Lum and Abner was as low-key as Easy Aces, as cheerfully absurdist as Vic and Sade, and exaggerated The Goldbergs’ ethnic focus by amplifying the protagonists’ regional identities. As co-owners of the Jot ’em Down Store in the fictional town of Pine Ridge, Arkansas, the pair are constantly stumbling upon moneymaking ideas only to find themselves fleeced by nemesis Squire Skimp, before finally finding a way to redeem themselves. Lum and Abner played the hillbilly theme with deceptive cleverness. The hillbillies knew that the slickers would get what was coming to them sooner or later and either didn’t mind or knew more than they let on that the slickers getting theirs was a matter of fortunate circumstance.
In addition to the title characters, Lauck also played Grandpappy Spears and Cedric Weehunt while Goff played Abner, Squire Skimp, Llewelyn “Mousey” Grey, Dick Huddleston, and most of the other characters.
Lauck and Goff had known each other since childhood and attended the University of Arkansas together where they both joined the Sigma Chi Fraternity. They performed locally and established a blackface act which led to an audition at radio station KTHS in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Prior to the audition, the two men decided to change their act and portray two hillbillies, due to the large number of blackface acts already in existence. After only a few shows in Hot Springs, they were picked up nationally by NBC, and Lum and Abner, sponsored by Quaker Oats, ran until 1932. Lauck and Goff performed several different characters, modeling many of them on the real-life residents of Waters, Arkansas.
When the Quaker contract expired, Lauck and Goff continued to broadcast on two Texas stations, WBAP (Fort Worth) and WFAA (Dallas). In 1933, The Ford Dealers of America became their sponsor for approximately a year. Horlick’s Malted Milk, the 1934–37 sponsor, offered a number of promotional items, including almanacs and fictional Pine Ridge newspapers. During this period, the show was broadcast on Chicago’s WGN (AM), one of the founding members of the Mutual Broadcasting System. In 1936, Dick Huddleston of Waters petitioned the United States Post Office to changed the town’s name to Pine Ridge. Postum cereal sponsored Lum and Abner in 1938–40, before Alka-Seltzer picked up the duo. Miles Laboratories, manufacturers of Alka-Seltzer and One-A-Day Vitamins, became the longest-running sponsor, backing the program from 1941 until 1948. Over the course of its life, Lum and Abner appeared on the two other major radio networks in addition to NBC and Mutual: CBS and ABC (formerly NBC Blue).
In 1948, the show changed from a 15-minute “comedic soap opera” to a 30-minute self-contained show. New writers were added, including Flying Tiger ace Robert T. Smith, along with an orchestra and a live audience. The new format was unpopular and the series came off the air in 1950. Lauck and Goff experimented with other formats during the hiatus, finally changing back to a 15-minute, Monday-Friday show on ABC in 1953, but the revived show was discontinued the following year due to competition from television and Goff’s failing health.
The team broadcast more than 5,000 shows, of which over 1,630 episodes exist today. The archive is extensive between 1935 and 1948. As with most old-time radio shows, very little pre-1935 content (in this case, two episodes) survived to the present day. Only a handful of post-1948 programs, and none of the 1953-54 revival, have survived; whatever recordings of those shows are believed to have been destroyed.
Like several of their contemporaries, Lauck and Goff had the opportunity to bring their characters to life in movies. The Lum & Abner radio show of March 29, 1940, “The Store Closes to Shoot a Movie,” announced a break in the radio series in order to make the first film of the series, Dreaming Out Loud, which was released the same year. Six other films were later produced, the last being Lum and Abner Abroad (1956). This last film, shot in Yugoslavia, were originally meant as three episodes of a television pilot, but, as the series wasn’t picked up, it was released theatrically.
• Dreaming Out Loud (1940)
• The Bashful Bachelor (1942)
• Two Weeks to Live (1943)
• So This Is Washington (1943)
• Goin’ to Town (1944)
• Partners in Time (1946)
• Lum and Abner Abroad (1956)
As well as inspiring the program and its characters, Pine Ridge is also home to the Lum and Abner Museum, which opened in the 1970s and currently features on the National Register of Historic Places. A replica of the Jot ’em Down Store stands adjacent to the Museum.
The National Lum and Abner Society
The National Lum and Abner Society, formed in 1984, published a bimonthly newsletter, The Jot ‘Em Down Journal, until 2007. Between 1985 and 2005 the organization held 20 annual conventions (skipping 2004) in Pine Ridge and Mena, Arkansas, playing host to numerous veterans of the Lum and Abner radio programs and motion pictures. Since 2007, the NLAS has existed as an organization with free membership with its Jot ‘Em Down Journal transferred to the NLAS website. Founding officers Sam Brown, Tim Hollis, and Donnie Pitchford have remained connected to the organization since the beginning.
The first NLAS “Reunion” took place in June 2011 as part of the annual Lum and Abner Festival in Mena, Arkansas to celebrate the 80th Anniversary of the Lum and Abner show as well as the 75th anniversary of the changing of the name of Waters, Arkansas to Pine Ridge. The NLAS has released the first three CD volumes of Audio Jot ‘Em Down Journals for blind members, working through the Helping Hands for the Blind organization in California. These contains readings of the 1984-89 printed issues of The Jot ‘Em Down Journal. A fourth volume is on hold at present.
In 2015, a NLAS event was held in Mena, Arkansas.