In May of 1977 Bentonville was to have it first "Round the Square" event. It was the brainchild of J. Dickson who chair a hard working committee of people to set up the event. The day was full of activities from The Bentonville junior and senior high drill teams to a May Pole dance, to vendors. Hundreds of people packed the square that day. The 150 chickens that were BBQ were soon all sold. The event was also called "trade days" after the gathering of people in early Bentonville who would do business on Saturdays. It would be a combination flea Market , garage sale, and art show all in one. The day turned into a great success. At the end of the day before leaving J. Dickson Black was overheard saying, "I knew it would work all along.
They BBQ 150 chickens on the first day of "Round the Square. Every last chicken was sold which helped defray the cost of the event. Some of those helping are (from left) Donna Rakestraw, Jim Walton, David Scoggins, Steve Marquess and Tim Summer. Photo from The Benton County Democrat 5/4/77(now the NWA Democrat Gazette)
"Round the Square" continued every other week for that year. Finishing up the year in October celebrating Bentonville's 141st birthday. Here J. Dickson Black takes a big bite of birthday cake donated by local merchants. (photo from The Benton County Democrat 8/5/1977 now the NWA Democrat Gazette)
off The vendor spaces for "Round the Square" were always free on a first come bases. You didn't have to sign up or see anyone, just show up. Exhibitors could sell handmade crafts, books, antiques, collectables, fresh garden items, bake goods. An organization with a fund raising program was welcome to set up. The show would run from 8am to 4pm. You could set up early if you wanted and leave when you wanted. At the time it was the only know event like it in the state of Arkansas. Anyone who just wanted to sing or play a musical instrument was welcome. If you just want to show your collection they would help you set up. Mr. Black many times referred to it as a fun fair. Where people could just come and visit with each other , or the vendors.
This is a photo of J. Dickson Black on the Bentonville square where you could find him every Saturday. Mr. Black alway had an interesting story to tell about the history of Bentonville
Many changes have taken place over the years. The event has now become weekly and the name has been changed to Farmers Market. But one thing has stay the same over the years. The Black family has been a part of the Round the Square / Farmers Market for the last 42 years. Although J. Dickson has been gone for many years his daughter Gabriella (Black) McFall still sets up on the square regularly. There has been a marker placed on the square to honor J. Dickson Blacks effort of keeping the event running over the many years of his life. This is a memorial to J. Dickson Black for his efforts in starting the Farmer Market. It sit at the S. W. corner of the Bentonville square.
This is the booth of Gabriella (Black) McFall the daughter of the late J. Dickson Black. The McFall sell different types of rocks, and there booth is very popular will the children.