Last Night Fayetteville offers more in New Year’s Eve celebrations

With more artists, musicians and venues, the largest public New Year’s Eve party in Arkansas will be a little bit bigger this year.

The performing arts festival Last Night Fayetteville will kick off its second year of New Year’s Eve celebrations at 6 p.m. Dec. 31 at the downtown Fayetteville Square.

Events this year include a kids’ zone, jazz stage, comedy club and many other local musicians and artists. Performances will run up till 11:45 p.m., ending in time for the midnight “Hog Drop” and fireworks display. General admission tickets are $10 in advance for adults and $5 for children. VIP tickets are also available for $50.

“This is an all encompassing event,” event director Lauren Embree said. “Compared to this time last year, we’ve sold two to three times the number of tickets. The amount of presales is a great indicator this year will be a success.”

With the inception of Last Night in April 2011, Embree worked with her husband and production coordinator David and programing director Erika Wilhite to launch the New Year’s Eve festival last year.

Giant puppet parade

Courtesy photo

“We noticed a need in Fayetteville for an event like this,” Embree said. “We were looking to create a special event with something for the family and young adult alike. We’re the largest public celebration in Arkansas, and we haven’t found an event in the state that rivals us yet.”

Last Night has grown greatly in the span of a year, Embree said, and the event was able to bring in more artists and bands for this year’s celebration.

“We’re lucky to have such a big talent pool in Fayetteville to choose from,” said Embree, who began booking bands and artists months in advance. “We looked into who the people of Fayetteville want. We hope to introduce an array of bands and genres, from folk bands to more upbeat, party bands.”

Four separate stages will be set up around the square: the Adventure Subaru Main Stage inside the Fayetteville Town Center, the Jazz Stage located in Fayetteville Underground, the Folk Stage at the Odom Law Firm and the Dance Stage at Fresco Café.

Sheet Fort Theater

Courtesy, Ellen Gregory

The festival will also include a comedy club inside The Mustache Goods & Wears, a kids’ zone inside the Town Center and the Sheet Fort Theater inside Matt Miller Studio.

The Artist’s Laboratory Theatre, a collective ensemble company in Fayetteville, created the idea of the Sheet Fort Theater and is returning to Last Night to perform again this year.

The company builds sheet forts to create venues for small intimate performances, said Wilhite, who is also the artistic director of Artist’s Laboratory Theatre.

“We premiered ‘Found Fayetteville’ at the sheet fort venue last year, and are bringing it back for this year’s festival,” Wilhite said. “It’s like a multimedia variety show. We find sound in our environment and collage it all together into a love letter of sorts to Fayetteville.”

Wilhite said performing last year brought the company a lot of exposure and feedback from people who wouldn’t have known about them otherwise.

“Really Last Night raises awareness about the preforming arts in Fayetteville,” Wilhite said. “You may know there’s theatre or comedy in Fayetteville, but you don’t always know where to find them. Last Night helps you to discover what is out there.”

Phunbags Comedy Improv

Courtesy, Lauren Embree

The Mustache owner Brian Bailey said it was a no brainer to open up the retail shop’s doors again for the festival.

“This is an event run by locals and put on by locals for locals,” Bailey said. “A lot of the people who come to the comedy show are people we’d want shopping in our store. It’s a fun event to open up our doors for.”

Both Embree and Wilhite said they have high expectations for this year’s event, and said they hope within a few years, Last Night Fayetteville will be like a household name.

“We want people to say ‘Oh of course we’re going to Last Night for New Year’s Eve,’” Embree said. “We want it to become a tradition for the people in our area. We want them to realize that Last Night is an event to stay.”

2012 Last Night Fayetteville Schedule

Event map

Adventure Subaru Main Stage – Town Center
7 p.m. – 3 Penny Acre
8:30 p.m. – Groovement
9:45 p.m. – Jugglology
10 p.m. – Randall Shreve & the Sideshow

Sheet Fort Theater – Matt Miller Studio
7 p.m. – Fayetteville Word Wars
9 p.m. – Found Fayetteville*
10 p.m. – Found Fayetteville* (repeat)
11 p.m. – Sound Affects

Mustache Comedy Club – The Mustache Goods & Wears
7 p.m. – Phunbags Comedy Improv*
9 p.m. – Phunbags Comedy Improv* (repeat)
10 p.m. – Comedians of NWA*

Jazz Stage & Fashion Gallery – Fayetteville Underground
7 – 11 p.m. – Fashion Gallery of local designers
7:30 – 11 p.m. – Claudia Burson Trio & Friends

Folk Stage – Odom Law Firm
7:30 p.m. – Emily Kaitz & Outside the Lines
8:30 p.m. – Still on the Hill
9:30 p.m. – Folk Jam

Dance Stage – Fresco Café
8:30 p.m. – TerraNova Tribal Bellydancers
9 p.m. – Blossom’s Burlesque*

Kids’ Zone — Town Center
6 p.m. – Jason Suel
6:30 p.m. – Shaky Bugs
7 p.m. – Theatre Games with Arts Live Theatre
7:30 p.m. – Kayleigh Calaway
8 p.m. – Giant Puppet Parade (outside)
8:30 p.m. – Jugglology
9 p.m. – Theatre Games with Arts Live Theatre
9:15 p.m. – Marshall Mitchell
10 p.m. – Mini Film Festival with Seedling Film

Also featuring arts & crafts with Terra Studios, Zam the Magician and more!

*Denotes Mature Content

VIP Lounge presented by BHK
Inside BHK Kafe – featuring hors d’oeuvres, desserts & champagne bar crafted by Chef David Lewis
With the Garrett Jones Trio

Peace Fountain Rededication – Outside the Town Center
7:45 p.m. – Ten years ago, artist Hank Kaminsky partnered with the World Peace Society to create the Peace Prayer Fountain at the entrance to the Fayetteville Town Center. Join us as we celebrate Hank & his contribution to public art in Fayetteville!

Hog Drop Countdown
Gather outside on the Square at 11:45 p.m. for the Hog Drop Countdown to Midnight & Fireworks Finale presented by Cox Communications!