JONESBORO — Southern Tenant Farmers Museum (STFM) officials will host a celebration honoring the 15th anniversary of the center, Wednesday, Oct. 6. The event is from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. at the STFM, 117 S. Main Street, Tyronza.

The Southern Tenant Farmers Museum is a part of the Arkansas Heritage Sites of Arkansas State University.

“I am looking forward to the celebration of our 15th anniversary,” said Heritage Sites executive director Dr. Adam Long. “We have several new components to the museum. Oral histories are now available on surface tablets placed throughout the museum and exhibit panels containing our original content have been updated.”

Several events are planned, including live entertainment by Charley Sandage. Sandage grew up in rural Hot Spring County, Arkansas. After undergraduate work at Henderson State, a hitch in the U.S. Army, and two graduate study stints at UA-Fayetteville, he went to a career mainly in teaching and administration at several Arkansas public schools, colleges and universities. Exceptions included time at AETN and on staff at the Ozark Folk Center in Mountain View when it first opened.

Retirement afforded him time to expand on a 25-year old project called “Arkansas Stories,” based on original songs about people and events in Arkansas history. Long-form projects currently growing out of that interest include two musicals, one historical novel, and a concept for programming at A-State’s STFM.

Free tours will be available during this time along with a lunch of soup beans, cornbread, and cobbler provided by Armor Bank of Tyronza. Recent renovations of the museum were made possible by a private donor. 

Museum director Penny Toombs added, “One of our additions is a timeline.  This digital program provides guests with the history of the Mississippi Delta, beginning with the 1500s. New additions also include artist renditions of farm tools, a front facade of a tenant farming house, and space for traveling exhibits. I hope people come out on Oct. 6 to see the renovations, have lunch, and enjoy the music of Mr. Sandage.” 

The Southern Tenant Farmers Museum was the second A-State Heritage Site to open, in 2006. The museum enhances knowledge and understanding of tenant farming and agricultural labor movements in the Mississippi River Delta. The museum is located in the historic Mitchell-East Building in Tyronza, with the restoration of the building and development of the museum made possible through grants from the Arkansas Natural and Cultural Resources Council and a “We the People” Challenge Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The Heritage Studies Ph.D. program at Arkansas State utilizes the sites for opportunities for research, independent study, practicums, field work and hands-on experience for students. In addition to the Southern Tenant Farmers Museum, other Heritage Sites include Historic Dyess Colony: Johnny Cash Boyhood Home, Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Educational Center, and Lakeport Plantation.