Buffalo River Elk Festival features elk management summit workshop

JASPER, Ar (AGFC) - Jasper and Newton County residents are busy preparing for their annual Buffalo River Elk Festival. The festival is scheduled to begin Friday, June 26, and continue through Saturday, June 27. This year, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission will hold an elk summit workshop during the celebration. The award winning festival began in 1998 to celebrate the successful reintroduction of elk to Newton County and has been an annual event every year since.

The highlight of the festival is the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission drawing for elk hunting permits. The drawings and most of the activities will be at the courthouse square in Jasper with a kids' fishing derby on the banks of the Little Buffalo River. This year the elk summit workshop will be held at the festival. It will be the culmination of the months-long effort to design a management plan for Arkansas's elk herd. The elk summit workshop will be held at the Arkansas House in Jasper from 10 a.m. to 12 noon.

Thousands of hopeful elk hunters applied for the permits for this year's hunt. The public land elk hunt dates are Zones 1, 2, 3, 4: Sept. 21-25 and Dec. 7-11, Private land elk hunts are Zones A, Sept. 21-25 and Dec. 7-11, Zone B and Zone 4, Dec. 7-11.

The drawing for the public land permits will be on Saturday, June 27 at the Newton County Courthouse Square in Jasper, near the Buffalo River and center of Arkansas's elk country. Persons applying for permits don't have to be present, but many attend each year, joining in the festivities and activities.

One of the more popular events returns to the festival again this year - the on-site drawing for a permit. One permit will be issued to someone who applies at the Elk Festival in Jasper. Sign up, stick around and you may win a permit. For this permit, the lucky hunter must be present. Just like the other public land elk permits to be drawn, entrants must be an Arkansas resident.

The elk hunting permits will be issued for specific zones along and near the Buffalo River.

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation will be present with several educational programs. For the hunting enthusiasts, drawings for elk permits will be held each hour starting at noon on Saturday.