This weekend, history returns to its origins in Washington, Arkansas in the form of a Bowie knife on display at the James Black's Bowie Heritage Festival.

As the story goes, the Bowie knife was created after a duel on a Mississippi River sandbar just above Natchez, Mississippi, the event was on September 19, 1827. James Bowie was forever catapulted to fame defending himself by disemboweling an assailant despite being shot three times and stabbed four times. He survived that fight only to lose his life in Texas' most famous battle at the Alamo in 1836. The weapon he used  was described in the newspapers as a “large butcher knife.” From that time on men wanted a knife rapidly being called the “Bowie knife.”

Photo, Mario Garcia
Photo, Mario Garcia

Legend states that Washington, Arkansas’s James Black made a similar knife for James Bowie, perhaps even the first knife. Though Black's work was never formally signed, scholarly research has slowly built a strong case for Black and the bowie knives he made with distinctive coffin-shaped handles, genuine silver fittings, and blades hammered out of the finest available steel.

Mario Garcia, Townsquare Media
Mario Garcia, Townsquare Media

This weekend at James Black’s Bowie Heritage Festival could possibly be the largest group of James Black knives ever in one place, plus similar knives either strongly influenced by Black’s work or made by Black. Also on exhibit will be a collection of artifacts recently recovered from the site of Black’s forge. Two brief presentations on Black will also be given at the festival on Saturday afternoon.

The James Black’s Bowie Heritage Festival will be in Washington, Arkansas this Saturday, April 23 from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

The festival will also include:

  • Arkansas Heritage Crafts
  • Knife Show
  • Cutting Competition
  • Kids' Corner
  • Period Music
  • Historical Reenactments
  • World Famous Mastersmiths
  • Forged In Fire TV Celebrities Doug Marcaida and J. Neilson
  • Food
  • And much more!

Partners in the festival with the City of Washington, the UAHT Foundation, and Historic Washington State Park include the Washington Fire Auxiliary, Arkansas Department of Heritage, and Washington Tourism.

For more information check out their Facebook Event Page.

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