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James Black School of Bladesmithing and Historic Trades to Bring Doug Marcaida and James Neilson to the James Black’s Bowie Heritage Festival

Pictured left to right: J. Neilson and Doug Marcaida

HOPE/TEXARKANA, AR – February 14, 2022

The University of Arkansas Hope-Texarkana James Black School of Bladesmithing and Historic Trades invites you to have dinner with Doug Marcaida and James Neilson. Tickets are available now to meet and greet the two “Forged in Fire” television celebrities on Friday, April 22, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Brunson House in Washington, Arkansas.

Doug Marcaida is a US military veteran who served in the US Air Force for eight years and then pursued a career as a respiratory therapist for twenty years, all the while teaching and honing his skills as a Filipino martial artist. Marcaida developed his own style of Filipino martial arts, called Marcaida Kali. He travels all over the United States and the world, teaching first responders and military personnel the foundations of his beloved art. He is also an edged weapon combat specialist who designs some of the world’s deadliest blades. As a highly-skilled martial artist who has studied fighting styles and techniques worldwide, Doug is known as a walking encyclopedia in the evolution of weapons of war.

James “J.” Neilson has been making knives for over twenty years and is one of the best all-around bladesmiths in the world. He was recognized in 2008 when he achieved the rank of Mastersmith from the American Bladesmith Society, a title held by less than 115 people worldwide. Forging blades professionally out of his “shop in the woods” in the mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania has made J. an expert in “sole authorship” blade-making, a total mastery of every element of weapon design and manufacturing. His experience and credentials in the process of edged weapon-making are internationally recognized.

On Saturday, April 23, the City of Washington, Arkansas, in partnership with the University of Arkansas Hope-Texarkana Foundation and Historic Washington State Park, will host the Inaugural James Black’s Bowie Heritage Festival from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The festival will celebrate James Black, the bladesmith who forged the first Bowie Knife for Jim Bowie in Washington, and promote a variety of Arkansas heritage crafts and trades. The festival will feature an original James Black Bowie Knife exhibit, world-famous master bladesmiths, a cutting competition, a knife show, a kids’ corner, heritage arts & crafts, food, music, and more.

Tickets for the meet and greet event are $125. For more information or to purchase tickets, call the UA Hope-Texarkana Foundation at 870-722-8549.

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