A statement released by organizers states:
After careful consideration regarding the health and safety of our community, our sponsors, vendors, volunteers, and attendees, we have made the difficult decision to postpone the 43rd Annual Lum & Abner Festival scheduled for June 5-6, 2020.
As a result of the increased and overwhelming concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic impact, we feel this is the best way to proceed. We are very disappointed that we are unable to hold the festival as normally scheduled, but believe it is the right decision based on the information available to us at this time.
The Lum & Abner Festival Committee and Mena Advertising & Promotion Commission are communicating regularly. Plans are being discussed for an event as restrictions on gatherings ease. Additionally, plans are underway to make the 2021 festival better than ever!
For additional information about the Lum & Abner Festival, go to visitmena.com or call the Mena Advertising & Promotion Commission at 479.394.8355.
Mena’s signature event, the Annual Lum & Abner Festival is the first weekend in June at Janssen Park in Mena, Arkansas. This event is presented by the Mena Advertising & Promotion Commission and has been steadily growing year after year. Live entertainment is a huge part of the event as it runs all day both days of the festival.
In addition to live entertainment, enjoy wonderful arts and crafts, great food, the awesome Lum & Abner Car, Truck, and Motorcycle Show, Kiddie Korner with playground and bounce houses, the Lum & Abner 5K Run/Walk, the Lum & Abner 3 on 3 Basketball Tournament, the Lum & Abner Softball Tournament, Fishing Derbies, the RE/MAX Baby Crawlin’ Contest, the Flying Houndz Frizbee Dog Show and more!
Chet Lauck and Norris Goff were the creators of Lum & Abner. Chet was born on February 2, 1902 in Aleene, Arkansas and Norris was born in Cove, Arkansas on May 30, 1906. Both had moved to Mena with their families by 1911. They lived only a few blocks apart and grew up together.
They were both very talented comedians and by 1931 had become local “Amos and Andy” imitators. They were scheduled to perform on a local charity program in Hot Springs, Arkansas on April 26, 1931. At the last minute they decided to appear as two old-time Arkansas philosophers with the names “Lum Eddards” and “Abner Peabody”.
Thus was formed a team that was to delight radio audiences for the next 25 years. Just three months later on July 27, 1931 “Lum & Abner” made its’ national radio debut on the NBC radio network from Chicago with the Quaker Oats Company as their first sponsor.
This was to continue, with different sponsors and networks, for nearly 25 years. They also performed their routines on vaudeville stages throughout the country. By 1933 they had introduced the “Jot “Em Down Store” to their audiences and this would become the focal point of most of the programs.
By 1940, Chet and Norris were on their way to Hollywood to make the first of seven motion pictures. In 1948 the radio format was changed from a 15-minute show to a thirty minute program. The new shows used special guest stars, a live orchestra, and a studio audience. This was quite a change from the original shows and was not as well received by the listening audience.
By 1953 television was the new rage in America. Chet and Norris considered trying the new medium and a pilot show was taped. However, Norris’ health problems were just too much to allow him to stand rigors of performing on early tv. So Chet and Norris decided to retire those “two loveable old characters from Pine Ridge”.
Another era of the golden age of radio came to an end. They had performed over 5,000 live radio programs and entertained countless millions of fans. For the next ten years or so Chet and Norris each made several appearances on various tv programs but never again revived the Lum & Abner show.
Norris “Tuffy” Goff (Abner) passed away on June 12, 1978 and Chester “Chet” Lauck (Lum) joined him on February 21, 1980.
Some information gathered from Lum&Abner Festival Facebook Page and The National Lum & Abner Society