Toad Suck Daze Set for May 3-5, Announces Little Rock Zoo Exhibit, Record Giving of $220,500

Conway Institute of Music

CONWAY, Ark. (April 11, 2024)Toad Suck Daze announced today record charitable giving, a new amphibian exhibit at the Little Rock Zoo, as well as headline entertainment and key programming for its 43rd annual festival in downtown Conway on May 3-5.

Toad Suck Daze is the largest, free family festival in Arkansas with more than 100,000 attendees every year. Since its inception in 1982, it has contributed more than $2.4 million in scholarships, endowments, STEM education, preschool funding, arts education, and community development. Toad Suck Daze is presented by Baptist Health, Chris Crain Hyundai, and Genesis of Conway.

“We look forward to once again being a part of such a long-lasting tradition that celebrates education, arts and culture, and family,” said April Bennett, president of Baptist Health Medical Center-Conway. “Both of our organizations have been integral to the culture of central Arkansas for over 40 years, and we are honored to be there for local residents through comprehensive health services and community support.”

“Community is our number one priority at Chris Crain Hyundai and Genesis of Conway, and you can’t be involved in the community without being involved in Toad Suck Daze,” said Brett Berry, general manager of Chris Crain Hyundai. “We enjoy displaying our vehicles, passing out balloons to all the kids, and meeting all the locals and visitors during the festival. It is a big part of our year, and we always look forward to it.”

The festival announced $220,500 in planned giving to further its tradition of supporting scholarships, endowments, STEM education, preschool funding, pre-K reading initiatives, arts education, and community development.

Toad Suck Daze announced a $100,000 gift to the Little Rock Zoo to establish the Hidden Corners of the World: Uncommon Creatures exhibit.

“As unique as Toad Suck Daze are the creatures within the hidden corners of the world,” said Joy Matlock, director of marketing and development at the Little Rock Zoo. “This exhibit features reptiles and amphibians from all over our planet. Guests will marvel at the wonder, beauty, and oddities of magnificent creatures and learn about the unique habitats where they can be found.”

The exhibit will renovate a portion of the reptile house at the zoo and feature aquatic and non-aquatic animals in six tanks. Species include: Dyeing Poison Dart Frogs; Bumblebee Dart Frogs; Emerald Tree Boa; Amazon Tree Boa; Solomon Island Leaf Frogs; Prehensile-tailed Skink; Philippine tree Skink; Amazon Milk Frogs; Fringed Leaf Frogs; Suriname Giant Marine Toad, also known as Cane Toad; Colorado River Toads; Bornean Eared Frogs; Vietnamese Mossy Frogs; Flying Frogs; and the Tentacled Snake.

“Last year was an incredible one for Toad Suck Daze, thanks to our presenting sponsors and major festival partners,” said Conway Area Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Brad Lacy. “This allowed us to give more than any year in the festival’s history, and establish a new partnership with the Little Rock Zoo, which we are excited about.”

Contributions announced today include:

$100,000 to the Little Rock Zoo for the Hidden Corners of the World: Uncommon Creatures exhibit
$20,000 to design and engineer a toad-themed pocket park in downtown Conway
$25,000 to the Conway Downtown Partnership
$33,500 to the Dolly Parton Imagination Library
$17,000 in college scholarships for Faulkner County students
$10,000 to the Toad Suck Daze Emerging Scholars
$10,000 to a Greetings from Conway mural in downtown Conway
$5,000 to the Reynolds Performance Main Stage Series

This year’s entertainment — presented by Cherokee Casino & Hotel Roland and Legends Resort & Casino — will feature a night of bluegrass music on Friday, headlined by Arkansauce. The progressive string quartet’s music features improvisational string leads matched with complex melodies, intriguing rhythms, and deep thumping bass grooves.

Toad Suck Daze
Toad Suck Daze

Arkansauce, founded in 2011 in northwest Arkansas, independently released its fifth studio album, OK to Wonder, last year with 11 original tracks, ranging from upbeat and stimulating to contemplative and encouraging. The collection is filled with songs of revelry, wonder, insight, and whimsy.

Friday night’s openers are Bronwyn Keith-Hynes and Sad Daddy. The night’s headline entertainment sponsor is Green Bay Packaging.

Saturday night will be headlined by Arkansas native Matt Stell. The platinum artist has quickly made his mark on country music, amassing more than half a billion on-demand streams with back-to-back No. 1s with Prayed for You and Everywhere But On. Stell has made appearances on Good Morning America, The Kelly Clarkson Show, Bachelor in Paradise, and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert’s digital music series #LateShowMeMusic.

Man Made is his current lead single off a new album expected next year, which follows his 2020 EP Better Than That. Stell is a self-taught vocalist and guitarist from Arkansas, who made the move to Nashville in 2014 after turning down Harvard University’s Extension School Pre-Med program.

Former American Idol winner and fellow Arkansas native Kris Allen will open for Stell on Saturday night.

In 2019, Allen celebrated the 10th anniversary of his American Idol win by releasing 10, an album of reimagined acoustic versions of some of his most beloved songs of the previous decade, including fan-favorite Waves and his platinum-selling single Live Like We’re Dying.

Allen followed this up with the release of Don’t Stop Dancing, launching a new era of music for the Arkansas-born musician and paving the way for his upcoming 2024 album, Pole Vaulter. His newest single, Guinevere, features the imaginative songwriting and stunning vocals that put Allen on the map while setting the tone for his most introspective work to date. From a song about the joys of long-term love to the antidote for intrusive thoughts, Pole Vaulter covers a spectrum of emotion and experience from the seasoned storyteller Allen has become.

Saturday night openers include Sofie and the New Relics, Christie Huff, and Midnight South. The headline entertainment for Saturday is sponsored by Car-Son Construction.

Sofie and the New Relics
Sofie and the New Relics at Illuminate in 2023

“When we began building the lineup for this year’s Toad Suck Daze main stage, we didn’t set out to give it an Arkansas flavor,” said Adam Hambrick, creative director for Toad Suck Daze. “We wanted to offer a lineup of music that we know Arkansas loves. It just so happens that it turned into a homecoming for some of the state’s brightest stars and some of my favorite people.”

Sunday’s entertainment, sponsored by the Conway Cowboy Church, will feature David Leonard and Josh Baldwin. Destiny Worship Music is the opening act.

Leonard is a Nashville-based artist who performed with NEEDTOBREATHE before becoming one-half of the GRAMMY-nominated duo All Sons & Daughters. He has song credits including Great Are You Lord, Christ Be All Around, and All The Poor and Powerless. He released his first solo project in 2019, The Wait, a special collection of personal and reflective songs. Leonard followed that up with The Wait: Silence The Noise. His latest single is Good Lord.

Baldwin is a gold-certified singer-songwriter and worship leader who joined the Bethel Music collective in 2014. His newest album, Made for More, is his second live worship album, following his 2022 release, Where The Glory Is.

All festival entertainment is presented by Cherokee Casino & Hotel Roland and Legends Resort & Casino. Visit Conway is this year’s Main Stage sponsor.

Toad Suck Daze festival programming will feature traditional favorites, and as always, new programming to help continue to grow the festival’s reach. Popular and familiar programming and attractions returning this year include Acxiom Tinkerfest with programming provided by the Museum of Discovery, character meet-and-greets with Arkansas PBS characters, and the Caldwell Toyota Toadal Kids Zone.

New to the festival this year, is NativState Toadally Outdoors, which will be located on the corner of Parkway and Oak streets. The area will feature exhibits and activities that celebrate the fun and science of the outdoors. It will include demonstrations throughout the weekend for kids and adults, an inflatable archery range, and more.

Toad Suck Daze will also host two family movie nights, sponsored by Bargain Brothers, at the Caldwell Toyota Toadal Kids Zone. Friday night’s movie will be Encanto and Saturday night’s movie will be Space Jam: A New Legacy.

There will also be two documentary screenings at The Max Event Venue at 1007 Spencer St. during the festival. Friday’s documentary will be Dusty & Stones and includes a Q&A with the film’s director, Jesse Rudoy. Saturday’s documentary will be Arkansas Wild: The Story of Trout Tourism on the Little Red River.

“This our effort to wave the banner for creativity in the Natural State,” Hambrick said. “We want Toad Suck Daze to be a place for people to see masters of their artistic craft up close and personal right in their backyard.”

For a full schedule of entertainment and other attractions, visit ToadSuck.org or follow Toad Suck Daze on Facebook.

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