Compton Gardens in Bentonville was the setting once again, on August 10 this year, for what has become an annual public event, since 2012, to commemorate the August 1 birthday of Dr. Neil Compton, founder of the Ozark Society. This year an invitation-only breakfast for 90 people from the Compton family and close friends, Compton Gardens board members and supporters, and Ozark Society officers was followed by the opening of exhibits on the grounds of Compton Gardens. Some 25 local environmental groups, museums, and vendors had displays and goods for sale in conjunction with Arkansas and the Ozarks outdoors. Nearly 15 volunteers staffed the Ozark Society’s three tables throughout the morning, and Fred Paillet, Steve Stephenson, and Ken Smith were on hand to sign their books. Compton Gardens provided birthday cake and ice cream for the several hundred pedestrians who moseyed on through after stopping at the Saturday Bentonville Farmers’ Market nearby. One highlight of the morning was the dedication of a new neon entrance sign to Compton Gardens, with remarks offered by the artist, Todd Sanders. Many members of Dr. Compton’s family and close friends were able to attend the dedication, including Dr. Compton’s two daughters, Ellen and Edra, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
Compton Gardens is adjacent to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and houses a small exhibit room describing Dr. Compton’s life, the history of the Ozark Society, and the fight for the Buffalo River. The display includes Dr. Compton’s canoe, which was the inspiration for the new neon sign design. Watch and listen to the artist on YouTube at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XsSmoMSTfNg