Tontitown, Arkansas

Tontitown is a small city situated in the northern part of Washington County in the US State of Arkansas. The city was established in 1898 by Italian settlers in the Ozark Mountains. Located in the northwestern part of Arkansas, the city serves as a bedroom village for larger neighboring cities of Fayetteville and Springdale

Geography And Climate Of Tontitown

Tontitown covers a total area of 46.74 sq. km, of which only 0.35 sq. km is occupied by water, and 46.39 sq. km is occupied by land. Tontitown experiences an oceanic climate. It receives rain for 161.3 days during the whole year and receives up to 872mm of precipitation. Tontitown's coldest month is January, with an average high temperature of 6.8°C and a low temperature of -1.8°C. The month with the least rainfall is February, which has 10.6 days of rain and averages 46mm of precipitation. The perfect time to visit Tontitown for hot-weather activities is from mid-June to late August.

Brief History Of Tontitown

Tontitown's history, like that of many other American towns, begins with the narrative of immigrants. A group of Italian farming families sailed to the United States in 1895, seeking to make a new life in the face of high taxation, political upheaval, and unpopular colonial wars. After a bumpy start in Southeast Arkansas, Father Pietro Bandini purchased a tract of property in Northwest Arkansas and relocated 40 people to Tontitown. Father Bandini, who was born in Italy and educated in France, chose the Tontitown location for its favorable environment and low land prices. Due to the demand created by the 120 immigrants, the price of the property had almost doubled, from $8 to $15 per acre, by the time the 40 families who followed Father Bandini arrived. Each family was committed to purchasing ten acres. During the harsh winter of 1898, the men labored in Oklahoma's mines while the women and children endured, living off the land. The new Italian-American Arkansans were able to construct modest log homes and survive the first winter on rabbits. When spring dawned, the immigrants got right to work doing what they did best: farming. Tontitown was established as a town in 1909, with Father Bandini serving as the first mayor. Soon after, railways began to run through the region, with the first station opening in 1912.

The Population And Economy Of Tontitown

As per the latest US Census estimates, the current population of Tontitown is 5,408 people. Tontitown's population has grown by 121.55 % since the 2010 census, which reported a population of 2,441. The city's major ethnic groups are White (74.8%), Hispanic (12.1%), and Two or More races (8.7%). Tontitown has an average household income of $97,323, with a poverty rate of 9.33 percent. Educational Services, Accommodation & Food Services, and Retail Trade are the most important industries in Tontitown. 

Attractions In Tontitown

Tontitown Grape Festival

Women cooking spaghetti and frying chicken on an old stove for the Tontitown Grape Festival in Tontitown, Arkansas
Women cook spaghetti and fry chicken on an old stove for the Tontitown Grape Festival in Tontitown, Arkansas. 

Tontitown's Italian heritage is celebrated each year in August with the Tontitown Grape Festival. The three-day festival, which includes spaghetti dinners, carnival rides, arts and crafts booths, live music, and the crowning of Queen Concordia, is thought to be Arkansas's longest-running annual community event. Tontitown's vineyards were well known, and the Concord grape had become the town's distinctive product. In the 1930s, the Grape Festival expanded to numerous days. The spaghetti meal cooked by St. Joseph Catholic Church parishioners is at the core of it all. Beginning with July of every year, volunteers prepare hundreds of pounds of homemade pasta and sauce. Thousands of attendees (almost 9,000 in prior years) are served the spaghetti meal, which contains fried chicken, salad with homemade Italian dressing, handmade bread, and Concord grapes. The proceeds from the celebration are given to support the parish. Grape judging was previously a highlight of the festival, but there aren't enough grape farmers in Tontitown to organize such a competition in the twenty-first century. Even though the grape business in Tontitown has dwindled over the years, the annual Grape Festival continues to highlight the grape's significant role in Tontitown history.

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