Local museum planning Heritage Party

Sunday, January 13, 2013
As the Delta Gateway Museum prepares for its inaugural Heritage Party, director Leslie Hester explains the importance of the old Air Force base to the community's history as she goes over this early 1960s aerial map.

The Delta Gateway Museum is getting ready for its inaugural Heritage Party, culminating the museum's first year of its capital campaign and giving patrons a look into 1940s-era Blytheville.

"We want to give people a glimpse into a very important time in the history of Blytheville," Gateway Museum director Leslie Hester said as she explained why the Museum chose the 1940s for its Heritage Party theme.

"The base -- in all its incarnations -- was a very big thing for the area. Since it opened up in the '40s, which was such a rich time historically, we decided to go with that to highlight that era in our history," Hester said.

With the slogan "We can do it," the Heritage Party fundraiser is going to re-create a 1940s USO show to celebrate the area's rich military history and hopefully be a jolt in fundraising, according to Hester.

"You see in movies where they have these old USO shows with Frank Sinatra or Bob Hope -- we wanted to re-create that here," said Hester.

The party will feature live performers, including an Andrews Sisters cover band, dancing, heavy hor d'oeuvres and new displays featuring World War II-era U.S. and foreign military pieces, as well as displays specific to what was then known as the Blytheville Army Airfield.

Hester said she and the museum's commissioners are working to make this a "fun and historically accurate" event, but the main purpose is to raise money for the Museum's capital campaign and bring in professional longterm exhibits.

Fundraising for the campaign started last year after the museum moved into the old Kress Building on Main Street. Hester said the museum is currently populated by temporary exhibits, most of which are on loan from local collectors, but the time has come to move onto some bigger, more substantial exhibits.

"We spent last year raising funds for our planning designs and putting together what's out their now, which wasn't exactly easy," Hester said. "There are a lot of historical items out there -- people have them in their attics or garages -- but we had to find things pertinent to the story we're trying to tell -- the story of Blytheville's history. That took a lot of work last year, but we wanted to give people some pertinent exhibits to come see."

"This party is going to be very helpful in us being able to get longterm pieces that will allow us to tell that story," she added.

The Heritage Party will put a cap on the Museum's first year of its capital campaign before starting the new cycle in March. The inaugural Heritage Party will be Saturday, March 2. Tickets are $50 for a one person and $80 for a couple. For more information, call Leslie Hester at 870-824-2346.