Last month, I interviewed local artist and entrepreneur Jim Nelson for my upcoming book, “Welcome to Eureka Springs: The I-Sh*t-You-Not History of America’s Quirkiest Town.”
Jim arrived in Eureka Springs with his wife Susan in the mid-1970s as hippie leatherworkers looking for a place to open shop, and found their forever home.
I mainly wanted to talk with Jim about Eureka’s influx of hippies around that time, especially the controversial Edd Jeffords, who will be featured in my book. Jeffords produced the “hillbilly Woodstock” that attracted 150,000 concertgoers to the area, and founded an institute that went after government grants for projects benefiting small farmers and small towns.
I also was interested in the changing downtown scene during that era, when boutiques like the Emporium and Spring Street Pottery added big-city sophistication to little-city charm, and head shops like Eureka Mercantile served the burgeoning subculture contingent.
We also talked about Crescent Dragonwagon, Schoe the hippie biker mayor, the Eureka Springs School of the Arts, and the Waltons, all of whom will make appearances in my book.