Bigelow & The Daffodils

In central Arkansas is a town that is not well known by outsiders and quiet a few area residents only know of this small town for one reason - a little flower named after a beautiful Greek boy. You may have heard of him. Narcissus became so obsessed with his own reflection as he kneeled and gazed into a pool of water that he fell into the water and drowned. From the spot where he died, the beautiful Narcissus flower grew. Today, most people call it by it's common name, the daffodil.

The peaceful area around Bigelow.
Esau was a small community a few miles southwest of the present Toadsuck Ferry Bridge just outside of Conway. Over time, Esau grew until it touched the edge of the small town of Fourche. In 1911, Fourche River Mill owner, N.P. Bigelow, built a big, fancy white house on a hill above the town. He was elected mayor, and then he gained permission from the Arkansas General Assembly to change the name of Esau to Bigelow. At one time, Bigelow was the biggest town in the county. A vote was eventually taken to move the county seat from Perryville to Bigelow and Bigelow won the vote. However, Perryville refused to recognize the outcome and would not turn over the county paperwork so the move was never made.

Not much left of downtown Bigelow.
Over time, the mills closed, stores closed, and Bigelow lost residents until it became what it is today, a small country community with 329 residents, a few living in the town proper and most living on land surrounding the town. Though weathered and leaning, some of the old buildings still stand offering testimony to days gone by. There are several small, but long-established churches in the area that serve the residents. One of these churches is the United Methodist Church at Wye Mountain. Although only 50 members strong, the church owns a large field behind their building; not a field of hay or woods or grass; but a field of thousands and thousands of daffodil plants. And in this field, every year, they hold a festival - The Daffodil Festival.

The festival is held at different times every year because the daffodils don't bloom according to a schedule. It is held when the daffodils want it held and that's the way it should be. It's very informal. There are no rock bands nor do you have to purchase arm bands at the gate. You just show up. You can bring a blanket and a picnic if you'd like and mill around the field. They normally have a little shop open with handmade crafts you can buy. You can also purchase bulbs and daffodils ($1 per dozen) so you can bring a little "Wye Mountain" home with you. The proceeds go to pay the church's minister.

Field of daffodils.
It's not the most exciting festival in the world but it's something that a lot of people make a point to go to each year and if you happen to be around the Little Rock area in March, ask a resident if the daffodils are blooming. They'll know where to send you.

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
and twinkle on the Milky Way,
They stretched in never-ending line
along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
in such a jocund company:
I gazed - and gazed - but little thought
what wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

                                        William Wordsworth