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Most folks who live in the Little Rock area will tell you that we don’t exactly have a plethora of restaurant breakfast options. And while our choices are fairly limited, the places we do have are fantastic. One of those spots is Gadwall’s Grill in North Little Rock, a 30-year veteran in the industry.

Truth be told, I’ve only been dining at Gadwall’s for about three years. For a long time, I fought going, rolling my eyes at the thought of driving 20 minutes each way for breakfast. But I kept hearing the whispers, which eventually turned into shouts, from the restaurant’s adoring fans who insisted I check out the place.

It only takes one step inside the restaurant to feel that down-home, no-frills charm. You’ll be greeted by a “Please Seat Yourself” sign, a bar, likely full of diners, and a bustling kitchen just behind them. Prized taxidermy, neon signs, and various memorabilia adorn the walls. All together, it forms this wonderful, rustic atmosphere.

Find a booth, grab a menu at the end of the table and order yourself a cup of coffee. The java is good, not great, but is always topped off by one of the servers. There is no shortage of breakfast options at Gadwall’s Grill. Of course, standard items like pancakes, omelets, biscuits and gravy, French toast, bacon, and eggs all make an appearance. I always order the latter two items. No one in the area fries bacon and eggs like Gadwall’s, and I generally enjoy paring them, along with cheddar cheese, inside a breakfast sandwich. Those items rest between two pieces of buttered Texas toast and come with a side option, which should always be crispy hash browns. Much like the bacon and eggs, no one does better hash browns than Gadwalls.

One bite of the sandwich breaks loose the over-easy egg’s yolk, spilling the yellow liquid onto the hash browns. Snap off a bit of thick, slightly crispy, yet still bendable bacon and dip it into the pooling egg yolk. Take a sip of coffee from your mug or a swallow of milk from the frosty Miller Lite mug, look around at other diners, and just bask in the enjoyment of the moment. If you’re still hungry and looking to order something else, be sure to keep an eye on the clock.

Gadwall’s Friday, Saturday, and Sunday breakfast shifts only run until 10:30 a.m.

Let me repeat.

That’s 10:30 a.m., sharp!

If you’re looking to order after that time, forget about it. You better wait until lunch, which happens to start in 30 minutes. Speaking of, Gadwall’s does an excellent lunch and dinner service, but that’s a topic for another day.

Right now, I’m all about the bacon, eggs, and hash browns.

Gadwall’s Grill
7311 N Hills Blvd #14 (North Little Rock)
Phone: (501) 834-1840
Hours: Monday-Thursday 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Friday 7 a.m.-10:30 a.m. & 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Saturday 7 a.m.-10:30 a.m. & 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sunday 7 a.m.-10:30 a.m. & 11 a.m.-9 p.m.

Via Only In Arkansas.

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Did you get a three day weekend last weekend? It always seems like shorter work weeks drag on. Well, it is finally the weekend again! You can enjoy a tub race, grilling festival, mustangs, Arkansas road races, a Civil War battle, and more! The Magic Springs concert series has started, and the Arkansas Travelers will be having their Family Night this weekend! Let’s not forget the arts! You have the opportunity to spend an evening enjoying the live performance of CATS in Fayetteville this weekend!

First Security Grand Opening and Family Fun Day (Sherwood)

Join us as we celebrate the Grand Opening of our newest banking center in Sherwood! We will have food, games, pony rides and even baby kangaroos! You could win a trip to Disney World or one of our other great prizes.

Venue: First Security Bank – 9750 Brockington Rd., Sherwood
Date: June 1
Time: 10 a.m.- 2 p.m.
Admission: Free
Contact: Click Here

The World Championship Running of the Tubs (Hot Springs)

Downtown Hot Springs will host the 14th Annual Stueart Pennington World Championship Running of the Tubs on Saturday, June 1! The event is free to the public and consists of costumed teams loading up in authentic wheeled bathtubs for a race through the streets of Hot Springs. Audiences are also encouraged to come out with “water guns, house slippers, shower cap, and robe, to join in on all the fun while watching the parade along Historic Bathhouse Row!

Venue: Bathhouse Row
Date: June 1
Time: 9 a.m.- 12 p.m.
Admission: Free
Contact: Click Here

Photo Credit: Arkansas Parks & Tourism

Battle of Ditch Bayou Commemoration (Lake Village)

Head to Lake Village this weekend to commemorate the battle that took place between Union and Confederate soldiers just south of Lake Chicot. As the last major Civil War battle in the state, which took place on June 6, 1864, the Battle of Ditch Bayou was the most significant engagement in Chicot County. Most programs are free, but there is a fee for tours.

Venue: Lake Chicot State Park
Date: June 1
Time: 8 a.m.- 5 p.m.
Admission: Most programs are free, but tours are $10 for adult and $6 for kids ages 6-12.
Contact: Click Here

Eureka Springs Mustang Days

The best Mustang event to hit Eureka Springs is this weekend! Mustangs of every model, every year, customized and stocked will be on display. This event will be a jam-packed weekend of different activities ranging from a get together to a cruise to a parade and more.

Venue: Pine Mountain Village
Date: May 31- June 1
Admission: Free
Contact: Click Here

Magic Springs Theme and Water Park Concert Series Presents: “Skid Row, Stryper, and Kix” (Hot Springs)

Magic Springs Theme & Water Park announced their scheduled dates in its 2019 Summer Concert Series. The park will feature a total of 13 shows remaining at its Timberwood Amphitheater throughout the summer. With genres ranging from classic rock, country, Christian to contemporary, park visitors are sure to find music to their liking this summer at Magic Springs Theme & Water Park. This weekend will be a concert of 80s Rock legends KIX, Stryper, and Skid Row. Bring your blankets, chairs, and enjoy the show!

Venue: Magic Springs
Date: June 1
Time: 5 p.m.
Admission: Tickets Required
Contact: Click Here

2019 PK Cookout Grilling Festival (Little Rock)

The 2019 PK Grills Cookout is this weekend, and it is going to be bigger and better than ever with FREE COOKING DEMONSTRATIONS throughout the day, a kids zone, food and beverage trucks and, of course, a full day of outdoor cooking competitions featuring an SCA sanctioned Steak Cookoff, a KidsQue Nation sanctioned Kids Cookoff and a celebrity Burger comp! The party will kick off at the annual Welcome Party on Friday, May 31 with bluegrass, beers and a dinner provided by Operation BBQ Relief. 100% of the proceeds from ticket sales to the dinner will benefit Operation BBQ Relief.

Venue: War Memorial Stadium
Date: May 31-June 1
Time: Friday 2 p.m.-9 p.m., Saturday 8 a.m.-4 p.m.
Contact: Click Here

Faith and Family Night at Travs Game (Little Rock)

The Arkansas Travelers enjoy one of the longest running histories of any minor league franchise. The “Travelers” nickname is one of the oldest in professional sports. In fact, the Travelers have never taken a different nickname making it the second-longest running continuous nickname in Minor League Baseball, only trailing the Buffalo Bisons. The name “Arkansas Travelers” is derived from the famous minstrel known as the Arkansas Traveler, who roamed the Ozark Mountains selling his wares and singing songs. The team was originally known as the Little Rock Travelers and was renamed for the entire state in 1957, becoming the first professional sports franchise named after a state. The travelers have three games this weekend! Friday night adults will have a chance to win a TV, Saturday evening will be Family Night, and Sunday afternoon the kids get to run the bases!  A night out at the baseball fields makes for a perfect Arkansas summer evening.

Venue: Dickey-Stephens Park (North Little Rock)
Date: June 1-2
Time: Friday 7:10 p.m., Saturday 5:30 p.m., Sunday 2:10 p.m.
Admission: Varies
Contact: Click Here

CATS (Fayetteville)

CATS, the record-breaking musical spectacular by Andrew Lloyd Webber that has captivated audiences in over 30 countries and 15 languages, will be in Fayetteville this weekend! Experience CATS for the first time as it begins a new life for a new generation… or let it thrill you all over again!

Venue: Walton Arts Center
Date: May 31- June 2
Time: Showtimes Vary
Admission: Tickets Required
Contact: Click Here

Power Hour Comedy (El Dorado)

Carter “The Power” Bryant is back at it again with another comedy show at the Griffin Restaurant. This event is intended for mature audiences. 18+. Comedians include Rob Love, Barry Laminack, and Robyn Adair.

Venue: Griffin Restaurant
Date: May 31
Time: 9 p.m.
Admission: $10 for advance tickets, $15 day of the show
Contact: Click Here

Arkansas Races

Communities around the state host races to raise money for some good causes. Check out the lineup of races below!

Get Your Rear in Gear 5k (Little Rock)
Run 4 the Rock 5k (Western Grove)
Superhero 2M (Hot Springs)
Joanna’s Unicorn 5k/1M (Fayetteville)
Mount Magazine 15k (Havana)
Click Here to see the list of the Arkansas races this weekend and throughout the summer!

Header Photo Credit: Arkansas Parks & Tourism

Via Only In Arkansas.

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The Little Red River may have once been one of Arkansas’s best-kept secrets, but the word is out, and it’s time to experience all this river has to offer. Although time and technology have altered her path and changed her physical makeup, this 102-mile river and her tributaries provide Central Arkansas with an abundance of tourism opportunities. Clear waters and beautiful views make this world-class trout stream one of the most picturesque rivers in Arkansas.

Ozark Mountains

The Little Red River is fed by tributaries that form in Northern Arkansas in the heart of the Ozark Mountains. South Fork, Middle Fork and Devil’s Fork all converge at Greers Ferry Lake. (The three rivers originally converged just east of Sugar Loaf Mountain.) Since the construction of the Greer’s Ferry Dam, the Little Red River now emerges south of the dam at Heber Springs.

Early Settlers Along the Little Red

Many Native Americans took advantage of all that the Little Red River had to offer. Abundant fish, wildlife and native plants led to several tribes building settlements in the river valley. Evidence of Native American settlements and burial mounds dating back to at least the 1500s have been discovered.

In the late 1800s, Edward Palmer, known for his studies of Indian Burial Mounds all over the South, began studying mounds in the area around the Little Red River. Palmer is also known for investigating Native American burial areas across Arkansas such as the Toltec Indian Mounds, Menard-Hodges, Hughes Mound, Taylor Mound and Tiller Mound.

In the late 1950s, extensive research uncovered many artifacts and several burial grounds throughout the Little Red River Valley. These sites were covered by the lake when the dam was built.

Steamboats and River Transportation

Early settlers also took advantage of the abundant food and water source provided by the Little Red River and the river became an essential resource for transportation. By 1875, steamboats were making their way along the river bringing goods and providing a new means of transportation.

Although steamboats connected early settlers to the rest of the world, some needed to be able to cross the river safely. As early as 1818, there were ferries located along the Little Red, long before the construction of any bridges.

One of the most notable ferries was located along the river at Tumbling Shoals. In the 1880s, William Vincent Greer, also known as “Bud,” moved to the area with his wife. Shortly after his arrival, Greer applied for a permit to operate a ferry at Tumbling Shoals. Greer’s Ferry could accommodate two wagons and teams, and he charged 10 cents for foot passengers, 25 cents for horse and rider, and 40 cents for a wagon and team. Greer operated the ferry until his untimely death in 1890. Greer had fallen off a ladder and broke his neck while attempting to save the family home from a fire. The ferry was so popular that Greer’s wife and daughter continued to operate it following his death until a bridge was built in 1912. The town of Greers Ferry, Greers Ferry Lake, and the dam are all named after William Greer.

Damming the River

Unfortunately, being born in the mountains meant that the Little Red was often subject to intense flooding. Although her waters could be unpredictable, many depended on the river for food and water and travel. Throughout history, the rise and fall of the water caused the loss of farmland and life.

In 1927, the worst flooding in the history of the United States occurred throughout the Mississippi Valley and the southern states. This led to the Flood Control Act of 1938, which included plans for building a dam near Heber Springs. World War II put these plans on hold, but Congress finally approved the dam in 1954. The Greer’s Ferry Dam was completed in 1963 and, in his last public appearance before his death, John F. Kennedy dedicated the dam in memory of William “Bud” Greer and the little boat that once ferried passengers at Tumbling Shoals.

You can learn more about the Greers Ferry Dam here.

The River Proper

The Greers Ferry Dam impedes Greers Ferry Lake and marks the beginning of the river proper. The river meanders for 102 miles until it pours into the White River just outside of Searcy near Georgetown at the Henry Gray/Hurricane Lake Wildlife Management Area.

Immediately below the dam, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service maintains a trout hatchery. The cold water created by the dam creates a habitat perfect for trout. Natural spawning and regular stocking make the first 31 miles prime trout fishing grounds which rival many of the best streams in America. Rainbow and brown trout are a favorite of anglers, but brook and cutthroats are also plentiful.

As the river winds southeast through White County, her waters give way to several public access areas and popular fishing spots in Pangburn, Searcy and Judsonia. Before emptying into the White River, the Little Red flows through the Bald Knob Refuge and the Henry Gray Hurricane Lake Wildlife Management Area.

Stay Along the Little Red River

 JFK Campground

Lindsey’s Trout Fishing Resort, Lodge and RV Park

The Cabins at Lobo Landing

Red River Trout Dock

Fish the Little Red River

Beau’s Guide Service
Read more about Beau’s Guide Service here.

Little Red Fly-Fishing Guide Service

Sore Lip‘Em All Guide Service
Read more about owner Jeff Smith, Leland Lures and the Trout Magnet here.

Public Access

Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers manage ten public access points along the trout portion of Little Red River just below Greers Ferry Dam. A good map is here.

JFK Park Access (Damsite Catch and Release and Wheelchair Access)
Collins Creek Access (Youth Catch and Release)
Cow Shoals Access (Seasonal Catch and Release and Walk-In Access)
Barnett/Winkley Shoals Access
Libby Shoal (Walk-In Access)
Lobo Access
Dripping Springs Access
Pangburn Shoal Access (Wheelchair Accessible)
Ramsey Access
Monaghan-Womack Access

Other access points are available all along the river and are indicated on this interactive map.

Eat Along the Little Red River

Chuck’s Diner and Steakhouse
Cafe Klaser

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There wasn’t much that could motivate me as a fourth-grade girl more than the possibility of getting partnered with the cute boy in class for the daily square dance lesson. Though it wasn’t the official dance in my childhood home state, Arkansas made square dancing the official state dance in 1991.

Fourth grade was a memorable experience. I moved with my family to a new school in a new state and suddenly became interested in boys. The motivation and enthusiasm that came with that early square dancing reflect the community and cooperation that contributes its heritage in the United States.

First Graders at Julia Lee Moore Elementary in Conway. Used with permission. 

History of Square Dancing

Much as our country is a melting pot of cultures, so too is square dancing. It resembles Morris (Morisk or Moorish) dance first seen in 15th-century England and brought to America by early settlers. As cultures and backgrounds mixed, the dance evolved and took on influences of quadrille and folk dances from several other European countries. Eventually, Native American and African-American dancing contributed to the creation of what we know today as square dancing.

Making its official debut in 1651, square dancing was quite popular until the early 1900s when it fell out of favor, and other popular dances took center stage. Following World War II, square dancing gained popularity once again and remains an important event for many communities.

Photo provided by the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism. 

Square Dancing in Arkansas

In 1982, President Ronald Reagan signed Senate Joint Resolution No. 59, which declared square dancing as the national folk dance of the United States. Although the proclamation was only temporary, it prompted many states to follow suit and declare square dancing as their state dance or folk dance.

In 1991, by an Act of the Arkansas General Assembly, Arkansas became the 14th state to declare square dancing as their state dance. State Sen. Jack Gibson introduced the bill that proposed that the square dance be named the “American folk dance of the State of Arkansas.”

Among the arguments included in the bill were:

WHEREAS, square dancing is a traditional form of family recreation which symbolizes a basic strength of this country, namely the unity of family; and

WHEREAS square dancing is an activity for young and old, where senior citizens enjoy dance and fellowship and where disabled persons become skilled, happy and “handicapable” dancers

According to Royce Beasly, current president of the Arkansas State Square Dance Federation, those two ideas are still guiding forces for the dance in Arkansas. The ASSDF was formed in 1949 and continues to elect officers each year and supports square-dancing clubs and events throughout the state.

Photo provided by Brian Stark originally appeared in this article

Family-Friendly Dancing for Health

Beasly didn’t become involved in square dancing until just over ten years ago. After his wife died, he began dating Cathy, an active square dancer. Cathy volunteered Beasly during a club meeting one evening after someone mentioned that they needed to recruit new members. He laughed and said, “Gimme two shots of Crown, and I can dance with the best of them.” (His statement was in jest; all square dancing clubs have a strict rule against drinking before or during the dance).

“I did some research and discovered that square dancing can actually add a few years to your life. When I saw Homer Smith (an active square dance participant in his 80s) out there not just square dancing but round dancing and line dancing too, I knew I could, and should, do it.”

Beasly believes Smith’s involvement in square dancing was one of the things that kept him healthy and active throughout his senior years. Beasley himself got involved in the dance because of a woman, but it also helped get him in better physical shape. He and Cathy are now husband and wife.

Beasly calls square dancing “good, clean family fun.” The clubs don’t allow drinking, welcome families and children, and the dance keeps participants both physically and mentally active. He says they often see participants as young as five and some well into their 90s.

First graders perform for their parents and community at Julia Lee Moore Elementary in Conway. Photo used with permission.

Square Dancing in Arkansas Schools

Although schools don’t require students to learn to square dance, many forward-thinking teachers have caught on to the benefits of using it in their classrooms. Bryan Cole, an elementary music teacher at Julia Lee Moore Elementary in Conway, has been teaching square dancing for around 15 years.

Each year just before Christmas, Cole introduces his first-grade students to square dancing. When they return from the holiday break, the students are fully engaged in learning the dance, culminating in a program typically held each April.

Julia Lee Moore, a former teacher and the school’s namesake, had taught square dancing to fifth-graders for much of her career. A group of her students decided that Cole needed to learn how to square dance so he could continue the tradition and devoted time to teaching him the art of the dance.

“I chose to teach first-graders because it helps with gross motor skills and listening skills, both critical for that age group.”

Cole says the first-grade square dance program is usually his most attended. Although he doesn’t formally continue teaching square dancing in subsequent years, students often request it, and it has become a fun treat that he uses on occasion. As it turns out, square dancing is being taught in quite a few schools across the state by music, physical education and history teachers. Students seem to love it!

Natalie Bartholomew at age 4.

A Prairie Grove Tradition

In Prairie Grove, Arkansas, the tradition of square dancing runs deep. Held each year at the Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park, the annual Clothesline Fair has been gathering artists, crafters, musicians and square dancers for over 60 years.

Each year, children in fourth, fifth and sixth grade participate in exhibition dances while older children compete for recognition in the areas of outfits, technical skills, ability to execute the moves and crowd participation.

It is not uncommon for children to start learning quite young. Natalie Bartholomew of Prairie Grove is a second-generation square dancer who began dancing at the age of four.

“For those of us who have deep roots in Prairie Grove, it’s likely that we are second or third-generation square dancers. My mom, Cheryl West, square danced as a kid and eventually “called” younger groups when she got older. Both my father and mother-in-law, Steve and Mary Bartholomew, grew up dancing, and my father-in-law called younger groups as well.”

Bartholomew and her twin sister, Lindsay West Kennedy, grew up square dancing. So did her husband, Colt Bartholomew.

“My husband was quite the athlete, being named an all-state halfback his senior year and leading his team to be undefeated in conference play. I will never forget him saying, ‘We beat Farmington in football AND in square dancing!’ Now, I don’t know about you, but there aren’t many jocks that could say that and be not only totally serious when he says it but also totally understood by his peers. Square dancing is that big in Prairie Grove, and people take it that seriously.”

The Bartholomew’s son continues the tradition as a third-generation square dancer.

Photo provided by Natalie Bartholomew.

Keeping the Tradition Alive

While my square-dancing career began and ended with fourth grade, I still hold a strong appreciation for the dance. It is exciting to watch the skirts swirl and the feet shuffle. I now understand the cooperation that must take place along with the physical strength and endurance that dancers need to keep the square from breaking.

Square Dancing Around the State

A lull in recent years has some fearing that square dancing will eventually fade away as participation dwindles among younger generations, but ASSDF hopes to see it grow.

Square dancing remains alive and well in Arkansas. There are currently at least 15 active square dance clubs and organizations across the state that hold regular dances. Dances take place every night of the week; observation is invited, and participation is encouraged.

As we head into festival and county fair season, this important part of Arkansas and national history will frequently be intertwined with celebration. I highly recommend that you check out the schedules and make plans to watch a dance or two. Look no further than your local square dancing club for a fun and physical activity that supports community.

Arkansas State Square Dancing Federation

Arkansas Square Dance Clubs

The Modern Square Online Magazine

Ozark Folk Center in Mountain View

Prairie Grove Clothesline Fair

Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park

Header photo provided by the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism. 

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Most, not all, of my food writing takes place in the confines of the home. However, a couple of times a month, I do enjoy banging away at the old keyboard in a coffee shop.

That’s where The Meteor comes into the picture.

Over the past year, a fair number of the articles you’ve read by me were written at this establishment, a space which is half coffeehouse and half bike shop. I’m no bike enthusiast, so you can probably guess which side of the shop I’m usually found. The interior of The Meteor pops with that look so many of us have grown to love over the past few years. Exposed ceiling beams, brick walls, and ductwork blend seamlessly with hardwood flooring, enormous windows, and industrial finishes. A nice mix of background music and customers coming and going, along with those, like me, intensely focused on their laptops, make for the perfect writing environment.

While I almost always order a regular cup of coffee, rest assured the shop has a variety of coffee and tea drinks made by a team of talented baristas ably trained to handle any order thrown at them. The Meteor uses Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea, in part due to the fact that one of its co-founders, Doug Zell, is also a co-founder of the coffee shop, but also because the coffee is quite good.

Along with the coffee, a freshly baked blueberry muffin typically ends up on my table. It’s the perfect complement to my java, but so too is the carrot cake muffin or any one of the delicious scones resting by the register. If I’m at The Meteor during lunchtime and feeling hungry, I’ve been known to order either The Zell, a delicious turkey sandwich with arugula, jicama, shaved Parmesan, and jalapeno raspberry spread or the Chicken Pesto, which includes avocado, mixed greens, tomato, and mozzarella.

The Meteor offers a full breakfast menu, complete with a variety of tacos, biscuits, and toasts, as well a limited lunch menu of sandwiches and salads. The avocado toast seems to be a wildly popular item. I have noticed what seems to be hundreds of orders walk by my table over the past several months. On Saturday and Sunday, folks can take advantage of the shop’s “Weekend Wake-Up Menu” from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. with options like waffles, toasts, breakfast sandwiches, fried eggs, biscuits, and mimosas.

As for me?

I’ll pass on the mimosas in favor of that smooth coffee and a few nibbles of my muffin. Remember, I have to keep my mind sharp so I can finish this article.

Did You Know?

The Meteor has a new rooftop beer garden that opened just a few weeks back. Keep an eye out on social media for Happy Hour specials on beer and wine. The shop also offers an “All Day” menu, which includes yogurt with granola, mixed berries, and toast with blueberry or raspberry compote.

The Meteor
1001 Kavanaugh Blvd (Little Rock)
Phone: (501) 664-7765
Hours: Monday-Saturday 7 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sunday 8 a.m.-8 p.m.

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“Son, what kind of pitch would you like to miss today?”  – Dizzy Dean

On late-spring weekends more than 10,000 baseball fans fill Baum-Walker stadium to capacity. This is especially true when the Razorback baseball team is fighting for the top spot in the SEC standings or playing a home series against one of many traditional rivals. Arkansans have a love of the Hogs that has been passed down through generations and has become an integral part of the state’s culture. Also part of that culture is an inherited love for baseball. Football has become the most popular spectator sport both locally and nationally and, of course, the Razorbacks have their cherished 1994 National Championship in basketball, but baseball has a special place in the collective heart of Arkansas. It is the game of our grandfathers.

Abner Doubleday would certainly be surprised to find he was mistakenly, or diabolically, given credit for creating the game of baseball. Perhaps he should be more surprised that American baseball liked the romanticized fiction of his accomplishment so much that the ultimate shrine of baseball honor, The Baseball Hall of Fame, is located in Cooperstown, New York, near the apocryphal location where he and his boys borrowed a cow pasture for those original games.

If, in fact, baseball is the offspring of games brought to our shores by immigrants and was born in the city, the young game was adopted early by rural America. The granting of that custody was so complete that baseball’s leadership worked tirelessly and often deceptively to validate rural America’s ownership of the game.

The story of country boys in a pasture inventing the beloved game was so powerful that in 1905, guided by “research and patriotism,” a commission led by Chicago Cubs President, Al Spaulding, was formed to declare the myth a historical fact. The prestigious gentlemen from baseball’s elite declared the Doubleday story to be true and presumed, by their prominence, that their acclimation would be the end of the discussion.

Of course, the birth of baseball is complicated and still debated today, but the love of rural America for the game is unquestionable. Nowhere was this affection more evident than rural Arkansas in the early 1900s.

Football was primarily played by college men, and basketball, also primarily a school sport, was played inside. Baseball, on the other hand, was available to farmers, coal miners, timber cutters, and even sharecroppers. No educational affiliation was required, and elementary school drop-outs were welcome. If someone could buy a ball, or even make one, and procure a bat or two, the game was on. The three acres or so needed to play were readily available, as was the creek for the after-game bath.

From these rural beginnings, Sunday picnic games, town teams, and semipro leagues developed all over Arkansas. The major leagues, playing in urban cities were manned by stars from rural Georgia, the Kansas plains, the cornfields of Nebraska, and the backroads of Arkansas. America loved them and the romanticized country baseball from which they came.

With colorful nicknames like The Georgia Peach, Big Train, and The Flying Dutchman, these uneducated farmers, laborers, and coal miners came to the city and became the stars of early baseball. Arkansas had its share of both colorful rural characters and baseball pioneers.

Boss Schmidt came from the coal mines of the Arkansas River Valley, Rube Robinson from a farm in White County, and Pea Ridge Day hailed from, of course, Pea Ridge. Arkansas would also send professional baseball Dizzy and Daffy, a Preacher, a pitcher known as Old Folks, and a girl named Sue. The history of Arkansas baseball is rich with their stories and those of lesser-known country hardballers.

The relics of those days can still be seen on most backroads in Arkansas. The decaying dugouts and dilapidated backstops of the cow-pasture ball fields were once the proving ground of a generation of Arkansas’ outstanding baseball players. Long since quiet and abandoned, these backroad ball fields are disappearing reminders of the rural history of Arkansas baseball.

Today, in the days of travel ball, private lessons, and year around competition, the idea that an uncoached country boy, with only talent and Sunday semi-pro experience, could succeed in professional baseball seems unlikely. In the early half of the 20th century, that path to the major leagues was well traveled. In the coming months, Backroads and Ballplayers will become part of Only in Arkansas as we share the stories of the men (and women) who made that journey.

Photo Credit: 
Rural Baseball near Mountain Home, Arkansas 1919, Farm Security Administration, Photo in non-restricted collection at Library of Congress
Cover Photo: Philadelphia players at Hot Springs, Arkansas. March 1912. Photo is public domain.

Via Only In Arkansas.

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The warmer temps of May usually mean I’m racing outside to fire up the grill. And while there are a million different items I enjoy grilling, like chicken wings, burgers, and salmon, a delicious slab of flank steak is near the very top. Here’s a wonderful Grilled Balsamic and Soy Marinated Flank Steak recipe I recently found and tried out.

Flank steak is fairly inexpensive, packs a tremendous amount of flavor, and, quite frankly, is very difficult to mess up during the cooking process. As you’ll see from this simple, 10-ingredient recipe, it’s also an ideal cut of meat to marinate.

Click on the recipe and give it a good once-over, but you’ll also probably want to follow a few of these suggestions:

  1. During the ingredient-prep stage, please make sure to give the onion a fine chop. This will allow it to meld with the soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and other ingredients.
  2. The recipe suggests letting the meat marinate between 30 minutes and two days. I opted for five hours, which ended up being perfect. I would probably shy away from marinating anywhere close to two days.
  3. Make sure to remove the steak from the refrigerator and let sit on the counter for at least 30 minutes. This will allow the meat to grow closer to room temp before hitting the grill. Once you remove the flank steak from the bag, pour the reserved marinade into a small pot and set aside. We’ll get to it in just a bit.
  4. The recipe suggests grilling the meat for 6-8 minutes per side. I opted for nine minutes, but timing will fluctuate based on your preferred doneness of the steak as well as its thickness. Also, be aware that an actual piece of flank steak usually has a varying thickness, so ¼ of the meat might be cooked medium, while the rest of the steak is more of a medium-rare.
  5. Once the steak is done, remove from the grill, place on a plate or platter, let sit for ten minutes, and then slice thinly against the grain and at a bit of an angle.
  6. While the steak is resting, take the pot of reserved marinade and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cook for ten minutes, while whisking periodically. Pour sauce over a few slices of the flank steak right before serving.

This recipe packs big, but not overwhelming flavors, and the moderately priced flank steak makes it a little less intimidating cut of meat to work with compared to a filet mignon or bone-in ribeye. I highly recommend shooting for medium-rare doneness with this steak, as it yields great taste and a beautiful pink interior. The meat also pairs well with a variety of side items, like mashed potatoes, sautéed spinach, rice, roasted broccoli, or grilled zucchini. There is no shortage of marinated flanks steak recipes on the web, but this one is definitely a cut above.

Via Only In Arkansas.

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Have you ever eaten a spudnut?

My first and only experience happened three years ago in Little Rock. Fortunately, a friend had just returned from the Spudnut Shoppe in El Dorado, a two-hour drive from the capital city, with a box of still fairly fresh confections. I remember the potato flour-based donut being distinctly better than most donuts on the market, but it wasn’t until a couple of weeks ago that I was able to visit the actual shop and try one at the peak of freshness.

I arrived at 6:30 a.m. on a Saturday to an old-timey, dimly lit and somewhat barren donut shop. A line of six people formed at the register and extended to the front door. It was early, so low volume, half-dazed small talk amongst locals in line was the only noise in the joint. Dozens and dozens of boxes, stacked neatly against the back wall, caught my eye, but so did the overall sparseness of the place. There were a couple of tables and chairs for in-house dining, a cooler for drinks, and a coffee pot. Upon second glance, I spotted more empty donut boxes along the wall. What I’m trying to say is that Spudnut Shoppe was all about spudnuts.

The workers were quiet. One man labored over dough while another walked around, overseeing what I assumed to be the fryer in the back. A third tended the counter. It was a small, yet efficient operation, run to perfection. As the locals gabbed about each other’s family, I stared blankly at an overhead board, searching for options and prices.

A plain glazed spudnut will run you 70 cents. Other slightly higher priced items include chocolate covered, lemon filled, strawberry filled and caramel iced spudnuts, along with cinnamon rolls, eclairs, and donut holes by the dozen. It’s a simple, no-frills menu, which is about what I expected.

Except for the donut holes, I tried all of the aforementioned offerings. My bill ran about $9, a small price to pay for greatness. And while I enjoyed all of them, the plain glazed truly stood out. Most of the potato flour donuts I’ve tried in the past were thick, dense and just not very enjoyable, but the spudnut was fairly light and fluffy. A perfect fry job left the exterior crisp, yet not oily. The spudnut was soft and warm, but not hot, so I’m figuring it had set out for about 10 minutes. It was apparent what all of the fuss was about. Simply put, it was one of the better donuts I’ve eaten in quite a while.

Knowing that time was critical, and every moment counts when it comes to donuts, I snapped a few photos, got back into my car, and drove home to Little Rock. Two hours later, my family was enjoying their first spudnut experience.

That’s what I call paying it forward.

Spudnut Shoppe
810 W Faulkner St. (El Dorado)
Phone: (870) 863-9914
Hours: Monday-Saturday 5 a.m.-12 p.m.; Closed Sunday

Via Only In Arkansas.

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Tremaine Pollydore launched his line of bowties and accessories in 2012, with the hope of eventually designing full clothing lines. His aspiration is now a reality. During the 2019 Designers Choice Fashion Preview (DCFP), held April6, Pollydore watched as models walked the runway in his latest collection.

“I’ve always drawn well,” Pollydore said. “And I’ve always had an interest in fashion. In 2012, [gospel artist] Tye Tribbett became really popular, and his style, wearing bowties and suspenders, also became popular. I decided to capitalize on the trend and sell bowties.”

With that, Maine Attraction Bowtie and Accessories was founded. Pollydore humbly admits his first versions of the accessory were a bit crude.

“I glued them together. The first lady of my church said, ‘You cannot sell these for $25,’ so I taught myself to sew.”

He also added lapel pins and ascots to his offerings; in 2014, he added scarves, and last fall, ponchos. He recently changed the name to Maine Attraction by TPolly Designs to reflect the company’s expanded offerings.

Pollydore’s experience with DCFP began several years by volunteering backstage at the fundraiser.

“Tremaine was my stage manager for several years. He’s always been so optimistic and positive,” Theresa Timmons Shamberger, founder of DCFP said.

When this year’s designer call was announced, one of Pollydore’s friends encouraged him to audition.

“He said, ‘You need to think bigger than just ties and scarves,’ so I decided to take the leap,” Pollydore said.

Shamberger said, “I had no idea he was auditioning. When he walked in, I was so surprised and excited to see him. I had no idea what to expect, but we were impressed with his designs.”

His selection was a dream come true as well as being his biggest challenge to date (before the show, his most challenging task had been producing 44 ties in just three days!). However, he did not have to go it alone. Famed designer, Korto Momolu, has been a part of DCFP from its inception and acts as a mentor for many of the designers, and this year, she took Pollydore under her wing.

“She really encouraged me and taught me so much about design and sewing, how to drape and how to rethink the purpose and design of my pieces. I cannot express how much I appreciate her input,” Pollydore said.

Her advice and his tenacity proved to be invaluable for the budding designer as he — like so many entrepreneurs — still works a “9-to-5 job”.

“I usually do a pretty good job balancing the two; however, preparing for this show required a lot. I used all my vacation time preparing for Designers Choice. It was worth it — I firmly believe that my job is a stepping stone. Fashion and design are my destiny.”

Pollydore said he has learned many valuable lessons as a result of participating in DCFP.

“You cannot allow fear to hold you back. Taking that first step is the way to overcome fear.” He added that being chosen as the Fan Favorite at this year’s show was a surprising honor. “It’s pretty unbelievable. I’m still in awe.”

His designs included cardigans, kimonos and ponchos with an emphasis on Afrocentric patterns. The audience at DCFP overwhelmingly responded positively to the pieces, so much so, that Pollydore won the event’s first ‘Fan Favorite’ award.

For Pollydore, the show was the beginning of the realization of his dream. “Being able to see my family members’ smiles was my greatest reward.”

DCFP is an annual charity event benefitting Timmons Arts Foundation. The nonprofit foundation benefits area students through various partnerships with schools and other nonprofits.

The foundation also hosts and sponsors a summer camp during which students are exposed to and receive hands-on instruction from working professionals in music, theatre, vocal arts, dance and fashion design. The camp culminates in a production during which participants like Pollydore realize their dreams, displaying their crafts and talent on stage.

Photos courtesy of Brian Chilson at Arkansas Times.

Via Only In Arkansas.

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A three-day weekend is upon us and for many, this weekend signals the start of summer. Plan a camping trip, take a hike, or take time to enjoy yourself with these great events around the state. But above all, remember and honor those who gave all so that we could have the freedom to travel, enjoy picnics and spend time with our families. We extend our thoughts and prayers to the families of the servicemen and women who will not be present this weekend.

Good Ol’ Days (Mount Ida)

For over 20 years, the Good Ol’ Days Festival and Car Show has been a family favorite, bringing folks to Mount Ida. The Good Ol’ Days Festival is always held the Friday and Saturday of Memorial Day weekend and is held on and around the courthouse grounds in downtown Mount Ida. This popular festival features numerous vendors, a wide variety of food options, activities for the whole family, a car show on Saturday, a gospel sing on Friday evening, and live music on Saturday. Seating is limited, so be sure to bring your lawn chair for the concerts.

Venue: Courthouse Square
Date: May 24-25
Admission: Free
Contact: 870-867-2723 or Click Here

Operation Skyhook (Pine Bluff)

Every Memorial Day weekend, members of the Black Pilots Association of America descend upon Pine Bluff for their annual Fly-In. In fact, 2019 marks the 23rd consecutive year that member chapters from across the nation will touch down at Pine Bluff’s Grider Field Municipal Airport for a weekend of fun, aviation camaraderie, and flying competition. Kids can get airplane rides and admission is free!

Venue: 709 Hangar Road
Date: May 24-26
Admission: Free
Contact: 870-534-4131

Fan in the Stands – Arkansas Special Olympics 2019 Summer Games (Searcy)

This weekend Harding University will host the Arkansas Special Olympics Summer Games for the 26th year. This years event will host over 2000 athletes and 500 coaches. The games will kick off this Thursday, May 23, with the opening ceremony, followed Friday and Saturday by the actual games. Special Olympics Arkansas is asking local Searcy businesses and individuals to come and be “Fans in the Stands.” Event organizers want the stands to be full of people to cheer on and support the athletes at the games.

To answer the call to be a “Fan in the Stands,” come May 23-25, make signs using the hashtag #SOARSummerGames, and wear your company logo.

Location: Harding University, Searcy
Date: May 23-25
More information: Searcy.com
Contact: Camie@specialolympicsarkansas.org or visit Special Olympics Arkansas

Photo Credit: Arkansas Parks & Tourism

West Summit Field Day (Little Rock)

School is ending and summer is here! Join the park staff at Pinnacle Mountain for a fun day of field activities and summertime adventures. Archery, kayaking, reel casting, hiking, and more. Pack a lunch and picnic with a park interpreter. Grab your football and pick up a game. Get outside and get active.

Venue: Pinnacle Mountain State Park
Date: May 25
Admission: Free
Contact: (501) 868-5806

Adventure Outdoors Expo (Heber Springs)

Head to Heber Springs this weekend for the Adventure Expo! There will be vendors inside and outside, AGFC Mobile Aquarium, National Guard Obstacle Course seminars, demonstrations, live music outdoor from 5-7, and more! Events include a fly casting demo, Dutch oven cooking demonstration, stand-up paddleboard demo, outdoor yoga class, bike maintenance & repair, paddling 101, girls who hike Arkansas, and more! You won’t want to miss this!

Venue: 201 Bobby Jean Lane
Date: May 25-26
Time: 11 a.m.- 7 p.m.
Admission: Free
Contact: Click Here

2019 Division I Golf Championships (Fayetteville)

The University of Arkansas will host the NCAA Women’s and Men’s Golf Championships for the first time in school history at The Blessings Golf Course on May 17-29. The women’s championship will take place on May 17-22 while the men’s championship will take place on May 24-29. Make plans to be a part of this exciting championship event.

Venue: Blessings Golf Club
Date: May 23-29
Admission; Tickets Required
Contact: Click Here

Symphony on the Square (El Dorado)

The First Financial Bank Symphony on the Square has become a true El Dorado tradition, bringing thousands of people to the steps of the Union County Courthouse in beautiful historic downtown El Dorado for a concert that is both entertaining and patriotic. This year the Symphony welcomes home El Dorado native Sophia Meyer and local favorite Emily Cole for this rousing concert performance. Meyer was among the winners of the 2018 Red River Radio Young Artists Competition and is currently a student at Vanderbilt University. Cole is well known throughout El Dorado for her outstanding voice and regular local performances. Join the Symphony in closing out its 62nd season with another unforgettable concert performance featuring some of the most rousing music in the American canon.

Venue: Downtown El Dorado
Date: May 25
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Admission: Free
Contact: Click Here

BigFoot at Cogswell Motors (Russellville)

If your kids love Monster Trucks, BIGFOOT will be a Cogswell Motors this weekend! The Monster Truck will be there all day Friday and all day Saturday. On Saturday afternoon there will be a car crush!
Don’t miss this family fun event!

Venue: Cogswell Motors
Date: May 24-25
Time: 8 a.m.- 5 p.m.
Admission: Free
Contact: 877- 893-2464

Via Only In Arkansas.

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