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How 501 Day is bringing communities in central Arkansas together

Many Arkansans took to the streets of downtown Little Rock to celebrate the second annual 501 Day festival aimed at celebrating those in the area code.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark — Last year, May 1, 2021 marked the inaugural '501 Day'-- a gathering intended on highlighting and celebrating cities and towns within the area code.

Fast forward to now, and the 2nd annual 501 Festival is upon us, being celebrated in downtown Little Rock.

The free event spanned over two blocks on Main Street, featuring live music, vendors, apparel for sell, art, accessories, and hand-made goods. 

The festival also featured food and fun for the whole family.  

For Sharon Jackson and her family, it was a reason to get out of the house-- providing her with an opportunity to show her two kids the way of the community. 

RELATED: First annual '501 Day' leaves Central Arkansas communities feeling unified

"We didn't have things like this. We had little community things but to bring the whole community in, it does make a big difference," Jackson said. "It teaches them to actually be a part of a community, to get out and know how to speak to everyone."

It was an exciting day for Jackson's two children, 9-year-old Christopher and 6-year-old Ericka. 

Ericka may be younger, but she takes the lead when it comes to fun for the duo. 

"I see a bunch of stuff that my brother would like to do. My brother would like to do everything," said Ericka.

They climbed and jumped on the bounce houses that were there for kids. 

While the children had their fun adults like Broderick Bozeman, the founder of 501 Fest, ran up and down the blocks to ensure everything went according to plan.  

"That's what makes this whole thing special. We have not had an event, or just a day, or anything to really celebrate what we have here in our city," Bozeman said. "This is kind of our first really good representation to do this, and just to show the city what we do here in our city." 

Last year, he said there were around 2500 people in attendance and was hopeful about the turnout this year.

"Last year, on average the vendors did between $1,500 and $2,000 just being here. It's really good just for a one day event. I'd like for them to double their revenue this time. These are small businesses too," said Bozeman.

Fellow festival coordinator Dazzmin Murry felt the same. 

She said 501 Fest has something for everybody, whether they're young or old.

"501 Day is the official celebration for the region. 501 is the area here. So, 501 Fest is just our way of celebrating every corner of 501. Something for all ages right here in our city," said Murry.

Aside from the bounce houses, Christopher and Ericka enjoyed making new friends, enjoying some good hotdogs and chips from a local food truck, and listening to the musical performances. 

All in all, the festival was a success and one that Ericka called "the best day of [her] life."

Local businesses also took part in 501 Day, showing pride in their cities and their region in the following ways:

 501 Day in North Little Rock: 

  • McCain Mall retailers providing 501 sales (participating retailers added to mall website.)
  • Spend $25, get $5.01 off at The Popcorn Spot LLC.
  • $501 reduction in real estate fees if you list your house for sale during May 2022 with Sara Lynn of iRealty NLR.
  • Arkansas necklace giveaway and $5.01 off a jewelry purchase of $40 or more at Bang-Up Betty.
  • $5.01 armband, unlimited rides, hotdog, chips, drink and snacks for $5.01 at Funland Amusement Park.
  • $5.01 Green Fee on the tournament course only after 2 p.m. at Burns Park Golf Course.

The annual celebration even saw participation from larger businesses in the area, like McDonald's.

Local McDonalds celebrating 501 Day:

Central Arkansas McDonald’s restaurants in the 501 area code will give away free crispy chicken sandwiches on May 1 in honor of 501 Day! It’s a one-day deal available only through the McDonald’s app with no purchase necessary as local owner-operators celebrate their communities.

Community organizers are hoping to increase the visibility and traction of the festival through word of mouth and online platforms. You can find the festival through the following methods: 

Organizers encourage the public to use those platforms to speak on 501 Day and share what they love about central Arkansas year-round.