Jasper and Newton County residents are busy preparing for their annual Buffalo River Elk Festival.
The festival is scheduled for June 27-28.
The award-winning festival began in 1998 to celebrate the successful reintroduction of elk to Newton County and has been an annual event every year since.
The highlight of the festival is the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission drawing for elk hunting permits.
Thousands of hopeful elk hunters applied for the permits for this year's hunt.
The two-segment season will be held Sept. 22-26 and Dec. 8-12.
The drawing for the public land permits will be on June 28 at the Newton County Courthouse Square in Jasper, near the Buffalo River and center of Arkansas' elk country.
Persons applying for permits don't have to be present, but many attend each year, joining in the festivities and activities.
An added attraction for this year's hunt will be an on-site drawing for a permit.
One permit will be issued to someone who applies at the Elk Festival in Jasper.
Sign-up, stick around and you may win a permit. For this permit, the lucky hunter must be present.
Just like the other public land elk permits to be drawn, entrants must be an Arkansas resident.
The drawings and most of the activities will be at the courthouse square in Jasper with a kids' fishing derby on the banks of the Little Buffalo River.
Successful elk hunting applicants will be able to take along non-hunting helpers, according to Mike Cartwright; elk program coordinator for the AGFC. "A hunter can hire a professional guide, but guides must have permits from the National Park Service if they guide on Buffalo National River land," Cartwright said. The elk hunting permits will be issued for specific zones along and near the Buffalo River.
The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation will be present with several educational programs.
For the hunting enthusiasts, drawings for elk permits will be held each hour starting at noon on June 28.