Counting down the must-dos to be an NWArkie
By Lana F. Flowers
TFW Contributing Writer
Every city or region has them.
There are the people you must know and the places you must go.
From the institutions and official events to the dives and local legends, these things make where we live unique.
Whether you’ve lived here for a week, a year, five years or 30, you’re going to find something new or at least be reminded of what you have, thanks to living here.
Here’s a countdown of our Top 40 list of things to be a NWArkie, beginning with numbers 40-21. Come back next week for the following 20. In the third week, we’ll feature what YOU — the readers — believe are the top events, places, happenings, people or qualities that are vital to the Northwest Arkansas experience.
40. You must have been to at least five small towns that are off the I-540 corridor — and by “been to” we do not mean drive through: You must stop and talk to at least three people. Visit Decatur to eat at the Bulldog Cafe. Go to the Little Debbie thrift store in Tontitown or Gentry. Know your Cave Springs from your Healing Springs from your Elm Springs from your Sulphur Springs from your Siloam Springs.
39. Have a Facebook chat with Fayetteville Mayor Lioneld Jordan. He is on at nearly any time, any day. He constantly posts snippets of wisdom, inspiring quotes from famous people and information about events in the area.
He had 4,887 Facebook friends as of Aug. 24. Earlier in the month, Jordan posted about an artist gallery opening at Ozark Natural Foods, a lane closing on U.S. 62 west from I-540 to Farmington and an Adlai Stevenson quote.
38. Hike Devil’s Den State Park. The park, west of Winslow, was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. The park includes campsites and cabins, hiking trails, bluffs and caves. Lee Creek runs through it, so you can cool off on a 100-degree August day.
37. Go to Powerhouse Seafood and Grill in Fayetteville for the Thursday night party on the patio, complete with live music.
“It’s kind of a cool atmosphere laid back, a younger and older crowd,” said Shelby Mainzer of Johnson, who will appear again next week because he checked off another item on this list.
36. Know what business was in a building at least three businesses ago.
For example, what is now Starlight Skatium used to be a dance club. Come on, you were there in the 1990s. You remember consuming a blue-tinged drink called a Drunk Chicken out of a Mason jar. Don’t make us find the photos.
But what was it before that? Hum.
35. Share a kiss by the cross on Mount Sequoyah. What? People do that? Apparently so, because a couple of Fayetteville residents (who preferred to remain unnamed, for fear of embarrassing themselves or their children) suggested it.
The cross, on the western side of Mount Sequoyah, affords a stunning view of the city, perhaps inspiring romance. Or at least, some good deep kisses and a makeout session after midnight.
34. Have a Bloody Mary at Common Grounds in Fayetteville. Gracie Terrell, who has lived in Fayetteville for 25 years, said Common Grounds is special to her because “It used to be the only place where you could get a drink on Sundays.”
33. See a show at the Rogers Little Theater along South Second Street in downtown Rogers. The casts include community residents who rehearse nearly every night for weeks prior to performances.
“Everyone should attend a show at Rogers Little Theater. It’s not typical hokey community theater. We are the anti-community theater,” said Kristin Calhoun of Rogers, otherwise known as Bloody Mary in “South Pacific.”
32. Have lived in a Lindsey apartment complex. You get extra credit if the complex had Links or Greens in the name. Though Jim Lindsey and his company have apartment complexes throughout the South, he lives in Northwest Arkansas and his complexes are ubiquitous.
31. Buy a piece of art from a local artist. If you want to keep Fayetteville funky, you have to support the local creative economy. See an exhibit at Ultra Studios at 118 W. South St. in Fayetteville on a Friday night, go to the sUgAR gallery at 114 W. Central Ave. in Bentonville or visit other local art studios.
30. Experience the linear parking lot that I-540 becomes at certain times of the day, like between 6:30 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. to about 7 p.m. See traffic ahead of you going 30 miles per hour? Think there’s a really bad wreck blocking the road? Oh no. It is one state trooper sitting on the shoulder 10 miles ahead.
Hit the gas and go on already.
29. Get gas at what is locally known as the Gucci Gas Station, also called the Prada Pick ’n’ Tote, in Rogers. Its real name is Pinnacle Station Local Market.
I know of no other gas station where you can buy organic produce, gourmet beverages, pick out butcher-quality steaks or racks of ribs, and get fuel. They have a salad bar. Gelato and gourmet pastries, too. Try this: Tell your out-of-town guests to enjoy fine dining at the gas station. When they balk, take then so they change their minds.
28. Visit a taqueria — Spanish for taco shop. I’m not talking about a chain. Oh no, we mean something like Maria’s, Acambaro, La Huerta and Las Palmas. If you have $10 and an hour, they have the refried beans, rice, enchiladas, shrimp, taquitos, flautas, sopapillas, chips and salsa to fill you up.
“The food is Mexican and the service is fast and friendly. And it’s cheap,” said Amy Lamb of Fayetteville, who has lived in the area for 12 years.
27. Go boating on Beaver Lake. Take your Jet Ski (or other brand of personal watercraft), your sunscreen and your sense of adventure. But, don’t drink on the lake in Benton County — it’s dry.
26. Eat at the Monte Ne Chicken Inn, where meals are served family-style, nothing is low fat and it’s all made from scratch. They’re open from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and from noon to 7 p.m. Sunday. It’s recommended you call ahead to make reservations. It’s a short drive east out Arkansas 94 from Rogers.
25. Know at least three celebrities from the area.
And we don’t mean local celebrities, we mean people who have been on national television, in a movie or who have recorded hit songs. Three suggestions:
- Joe Nichols, country music star, is from Rogers.
- Kelly Limp, who was on a season of MTV’s “The Real World: New Orleans,” is from Fayetteville. She now is married to Scott Wolf, who was on “Party of Five” and now is on ABC’s “V.”
- Emmy-award winning band Trout Fishing in America has its roots right here. Say hey to Keith Grimwood and Ezra Idlet next time you see them out and about.
24. Go to First Thursday on the town square in Fayetteville.
“I was born here in Fayetteville and moved away for a couple of years, but I have lived here for 19 or 20 years, so for most of my life,” said Sarah Schultz of Fayetteville. “It’s a really cool thing. There are all sorts of art they have going on. When I went, they had a bunch of great food.”
Schultz had not been to First Thursday for about a year, but talking about it reminded her of how good it was, and she plans to attend again.
23. Cross state lines to gamble. It’s right next door to Benton County, but West Siloam Springs and the Cherokeally are in West Siloam Springs, Okla.
You can buy lottery tickets in Benton and Washington counties, but we don’t count that as gambling. Go to Oklahoma so legally win at the slot machines, play roulette or bet on the river in Texas Hold ’Em poker.
22. Feed the animals, or get slightly nipped by one, at the Wild-Wilderness Drive-Through Safari, at 20923 Safari Road in Gentry. Just keep your cash to yourself so you don’t get mugged by a monkey on the 400-acre property.
21. Have your photo taken with Dick Trammel at a charity event.
He officially works with Arvest Bank. He was a University of Arkansas Razorbacks cheerleader back in the day. He’s been raising the spirits of Northwest Arkansas residents and funds for Northwest Arkansas charities ever since.
He is the unofficial Northwest Arkansas Mascot.
Next week the top 20.
And don’t forget to submit your suggestions for NWArkie bucket list. Send your ideas and photos of vital Northwest Arkansas happenings, places, etc., to firstname.lastname@example.org.