The announcement of the grand opening of the Hidden Pond Trail adjacent to the parking lot was the big news this year.

The board members, families, and various other volunteers of the Sugarloaf Heritage Council hosted sponsors, new members, returning members and dozens of other guests Saturday in the administration building of the ASU/Heber Springs campus for the 5th annual Heritage Day Celebration event. Those present were once again entertained by the talented Pearson City Limits Band, dined on delicious food donated by Mack’s Fish House, renewed SHC memberships, and applauded local sponsors as they accepted certificates of appreciation for both financial donations and labor provided toward the ongoing improvements to the Sugarloaf Mountain trails. As he received the certificate for the support by the City of Heber Springs, Mayor Jackie McPherson said “I’ve climbed those trails since I was a boy growing up here and I never would have imagined that any group would come along to make them as nice as they are now. They are really awesome.” Other comments such as this were common at the open house.

As in previous years, local photographers donated color pictures of Sugarloaf Mountain for a silent auction contest. There were 13 submissions, several of which were professionally framed pairs or trio sets of photographs. All submissions were anonymous until the winner was announced. As in previous years, Michael Swaffar of Shuttered Image in Heber Springs received the highest bid for his magnificent shot of Sugarloaf Mountain under a full moon. Many thanks to all those who donated photographs and congratulations again to Mr. Swaffar!

The announcement of the grand opening of the Hidden Pond Trail adjacent to the parking lot was the big news this year. University Vice Chancellor Chris Boyett invited guests to experience the new trail and SHC board members guided several families along the new trail when the indoor activities were over. The program by the Cleburne County Historical Society featured a most interesting history of ownership of the mountain land, including the 40 acres which includes the Hidden Pond Trail. This section was not officially purchased until 1951 according to the research by Charles Stuart and Dr. Mickey Barnett, who expressed astonishment about his lack of awareness of the pond, “My granddaddy owned this farm for years and I’ve walked across it hundreds of times, but didn’t realize there was pond on it until last Thursday when I walked the trail!” Both these historical scholars from the CCHS have presented interesting programs each of the past Heritage Day celebrations, but this year’s had many new elements. There were several “then and now” photos of Sugarloaf Mountain, including some aerial shots, which were remarkable. The Sugarloaf Heritage Council wants to share this program on the recently redesigned SHC website: so those who are interested can study it, too.

The newest SHC board member, Michelle Mobley, University of Arkansas Area Extension Agent and 4-H Club sponsor, shared her colorful design ideas for landscaping of the “green space” at the trailheads of the traditional Summit Trail, the Hidden Pond Trail and the next phase in development, the Tonawanda Base Trail. She will lead the 4-H Club and other volunteers in the implementation of these improvements with plants and materials funded by the Sugarloaf Heritage Council. Work will begin soon on this project.

Next year’s Heritage Day Celebration will take place again on Saturday, May 17th, 2014, at ASU/Heber Springs. A regular supporter commented “Once you’ve been to one of these get togethers, you keep coming back!”