The Central Mall parking lot in Fort Smith will be transformed into a car show on Saturday morning with vehicles of all kinds.
Spark for The Ark will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in front of the former Sears store in a mall parking lot benefiting the Ark for River Valley.
“We’re expecting to see a lot of growth,” said Frankie Ford, executive director of The Ark for the River Valley.
This year’s event will be held in Fort Smith for the first time. The event was canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic.
The Ark for the River Valley, a local nonprofit, provides advocacy, education, and entertainment for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in the region, according to its website. It serves more than 450 members in the River Valley and parts of Oklahoma and is a chapter of The Ark for the United States.
Ford said the last show held at Alma in 2019 brought more than 100 cars and raised about $6,000.
Membership costs $15 per year and gives participants access to all of Ark’s for River Valley. Membership to Ark for River Valley costs $15 per year and gives participants access to activities including movie shows, bowling nights, dance and cooking classes.
“We’re a small agency, but we serve a lot of people,” Ford said.
Members are the cause of fundraising, said Jim McCallister, a classic car collector and former board member of the organization.
“It gives our members a safe place to go and hang out,” McCallister said.
When they were young and in school they had a place to gather and hang out with people their age, he said. They lost it as they grew up, but the Ark gave it back to them.
About 20 people have already signed up for the show, but Ford expects a lot more to sign up on Saturday.
Classic cars, trucks and motorcycles are in the lineup.
The winner of the 2019 car show is featured on this year’s poster for the fundraiser.
“We take the winner of overall best of show, and we take that vehicle and then it becomes the artwork for the T-shirt and the poster for the next car show,” Ford said.
A local artist turns the winning car into a painting that is used for trade and advertising.
McCallister said the fundraiser is an opportunity for the Arch to River Valley to connect with the people of the region in a comfortable, more healthy way. He said the nonprofit had previously held a dinner event that did not take off.
“It’s a cool hometown way to do it,” McCallister said.
Pre-registration for the event is $20 and the day of registration is $25. For information call 479-783-5529.
Abbi Ross is the City Reporter at the Southwest Times Record. Ask him at aross@swtimes or on Twitter @__AbbiRoss. can be contacted at