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Fort Smith is spending 2018 celebrating its 200th birthday, which means the area will be full of events and activities to mark the bicentennial.

Fort Smith’s official 200th birthday was Dec. 25, 2017, a date marked with a chilly Christmas Day re-enactment of U.S. troops’ arrival on the river on Dec. 25, 1817. Fort Smith was named in honor of Gen. Thomas Smith, commander of the U.S. Army Rifle Regiment.

The Christmas Day re-enactment was just the beginning of the celebration. The yearlong event is divided into four quarters, each with its own theme. January-March celebrates Arts & Culture; April-June is Western Heritage; July-September is Homecoming; and October-December is Future Fort Smith.

Fort Smith offers historic sites and a scenic riverfront downtown, not to mention thriving retail and culinary treasures. The Fort Smith region is as diverse and modern as it is beautiful and historic. It is one of the most dynamic places to live in the U.S. Affordable living with a high quality of place makes the region desirable to an array of individuals and businesses alike. Whether you’re looking for a place to call home, a place to raise a family, a place to begin your career or a place to locate a business, the greater Fort Smith Region embodies all the characteristics of an ideal community.

Nestled along the Arkansas River, between the Ozark Mountains and the Boston Mountains, Fort Smith and the surrounding area provide some of the most beautiful scenery imaginable. From Lake Fort Smith State Park to a plethora of other parks, golf courses and the 170-acre Janet Huckabee Arkansas River Valley Nature Center, residents are never far from nature.

The Fort Smith region also enjoys a cost of living that consistently ranks among the lowest in the nation. Residents enjoy an overall cost of living that is 84 percent of the national average according to the cost of living reports.

Fort Smith is a leader in Arkansas’ manufacturing communities and is home to national and international companies like ABB (formerly known as Baldor), Graphic Packaging, Mars Petcare, Kraft Heinz (Planters Peanuts), Pernod Ricard, Gerber and Umarex USA. The Fort Smith region produces everything from baby food to bourbon. In fact, more goods are produced here than in the entire state. In addition to these companies, the city boasts corporate headquarters for ArcBest, Thermold Magazines, OK Foods and FFO Home.

The city is home to an array of arts and boasts Arkansas’ oldest orchestra, the Fort Smith Symphony. The Fort Smith Regional Art Museum is a haven for artisans in the region to work and to showcase their pieces. The Fort Smith Little Theatre is Arkansas’ oldest continuously running all-volunteer theater with highly entertaining performances. The “Season of Entertainment” at University of Arkansas Fort Smith continues to bring remarkable, talented artists to Fort Smith each year.

During spring and summer months, weekend nightlife along Garrison Avenue in downtown Fort Smith provides a variety of live music — from blues to rock and jazz to country. A great show is never far away.

The Fort Smith Region is also home to award-winning public school systems and the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith, which offers two- and four-year degrees in areas ranging from dental hygiene to graphic design. The region also boasts Vista College, and a satellite campus of Arkansas Tech University at Ozark, satellite campuses of Webster University and John Brown University, and Carl Albert State College in eastern Oklahoma.

We encourage you to discover this varied area of magnificent scenery, rich tradition and booming business.