Skating Rinks

Roller skating took the public by storm in the years following the Civil War. Other than the cost of skates, all a person needed was a smooth surface and a modicum of courage in order to enjoy speeding along with the rush of wind through his or her hair. Fayetteville didn’t lag behind in embracing this novel sport. Crowds flocking to the rink to try their hand at this challenging new recreation must have been aware that their activities would be fodder for onlooker commentary including wiseacre sketches which made their way into the local news announcing prizes awarded for “the most graceful lady skater” or “the awkward squad.”

Fayetteville led the state in offering roller rinks to an eager public. As the sport took its various twists and turns through the years, the community met the demand with a total of (so far) twelve roller rinks. One that stands out in recent memory was the fond dream of Dayton Stratton, a visionary businessman who saw the potential of a rink to accommodate much more than roller skates. It was Stratton that put Fayetteville on the national map of live music concerts, sponsoring local performances of breakout acts like Conway Twitty, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Ronnie Hawkins and The Hawks (later to become The Band).

Read the history of local (and state) roller rinks in the forthcoming AROUND THE COUNTY: Histories of Washington County, Arkansas.