18 April 2009

Battle of Fayetteville Commemorative - Headquarters House Museum, Fayetteville

Headquarters House Museum (home of the Washington County Historical Society) celebrated the 146th anniversary of the Battle of Fayetteville on Saturday, April 18. This year's celebration included a Dutch oven cooking competition, lace-making and quilting demonstrations, period dancing, house/museum tours, living history presentations, artifact exhibits, and a color guard.

The Dutch oven competition was awesome! There were teams from Oklahoma and Arkansas who cooked breads, main dishes, and desserts to enter in the competition, as well as to feed the visitors at Headquarters House. The judges, who included Channel 5's Darren Bob and Ashley Ketz (both were SO nice and funny!), had a TOUGH job! The Grand Champions were Curtis and Gaye Ann Grace from Newkirk, Oklahoma. They won dessert with their apple berry pie, as well as the bread portion with homemade cinnamon rolls. The Mudtown Dutchers from Bethel Heights, AR, won the main dish portion - their seafood jambalaya was amazing! Jim and Dawn Mills, also from Newkirk, Oklahoma, had a terribly mean (a very very good mean!) pecan pie. The cookoff would not have been as successful had it not been for Ron and Doris Williams and Oscar and Ruby Robinson, who fed every visitor to the Battle of Fayetteville with brown beans and ham, cornbread, and trashcan turkey. See their website at http://www.ozarkmountainmemories.com/. We appreciate their help and dedication very much!

Pictured Below - Top: Gaye Ann and Curtis Grace, "The Mudtown Dutchers"
Bottom: Jim Mills, Dawn Mills, Doris Williams

The Dogwood Lace Guild was represented by several lacemakers who demonstrated the tedious and fascinating skill. Their delicate pieces were gorgeous! They meet the 1st Saturday of each month at 10:00am at the Arts Center of the Ozarks in Springdale. Contact Peggy Bowen at peggy.bowen@gmail.com if you're interested. Quilting was demonstrated by the Son's Chapel Quilters. They meet Tuesday mornings from 9:00-12:00 at Son's Chapel in Fayetteville. If you have any questions, please contact Mary Scott at happyhowardscott@aol.com.

Pictured Below: Peggy Bowen with Dogwood Lace Guild, The Son's Chapel Quilters

Doug and Tess Kidd were kind enough to bring their collection of Civil War artifacts. Tess is the Volunteer Coordinator for WCHS. We love to have them show off their collection!

Every summer the WCHS holds their Heritage School for Young Ladies and Gentlemen at Headquarters House. During the week-long program, one of the things they learn is dance. The Virginia Reel, Gay Gordon, Duck Soup, Patty Cake Polka, and the Waltz are just a few of our favorites. Mrs. DeeDee Lamb, Director of Historic Programs, puts on quite a show every year! If you're interested in learning about the 1850's and 1860's, contact WCHS.

Pictured Below - Left: Jennifer Davis, DeeDee Lamb, me, and Joe Guinn; Right: Jordan Garrett and me

This year's WCHS Scholarship was presented to Jennifer Davis of Fayetteville. I'm proud to call her a close friend! She's a lovely young lady who will go VERY far in life.

A special and HUGE "thank you!!" to all the volunteers who make the Washington County Historical Society a success. Their signature events - the Battle of Fayetteville and the Ice Cream Social (August) - add so much to our community. Without the Historical Society, our county would not have so much of its past preserved and promoted.

If you're interested in becoming a member or volunteer of WCHS or would like to schedule a house tour, please go the website linked at the top of the page. Getting involved with the past is very rewarding - understanding the past is vital to our future.

11 April 2009

M&N Augustine Foundation Easter Feed

Today, St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Fayetteville was busy with the 16th Annual M&N Augustine Foundation Easter Feed, which is always held on the Saturday before Easter. The M&N Augustine Foundation is a local nonprofit organization founded by Dr. Merlin Augustine in honor of his parents and the way they lived their lives – respecting diversity and helping others. The Foundation is a 100% volunteer organization that has literally hundreds of local volunteers. During this Easter Feed, Augustine Foundation volunteers served 4,300 meals. An amazing feat!! The meal was a traditional Easter meal – ham, turkey, mashed potatoes, dressing, gravy, sweet potatoes, vegetables, and tons of desserts. Volunteers prepared food donated by very generous sponsors of the Foundation. Easter baskets were also made for local children. This year, close to 2,000 meals were delivered to people such as Meals on Wheels recipients, shelter residents, the homebound, and people at the Salvation Army and local jails. It required some heavy-duty logistical planning to get all those meals to the right places!

Hundreds and hundreds of people came to the Easter Feed to eat and visit with friends and meet new people. Many local elected officials were on hand to meet and greet people, serve on the food lines, and visit with folks. I just want to say THANK YOU to everyone who came out to support the Augustine Foundation and the Easter Feed. The Easter Feed is a tremendous example of what we can accomplish when we work together towards a common goal!

Pictures below (left to right) - Doc with Washington County Prosecuting Attorney John Threet, me with long-time family friend Washington County Sheriff Tim Helder, me with U.S. Representative John Boozman, and Doc visiting with Fayetteville Police Chief Greg Tabor, volunteer Charlotte Johnson, and local man.

A quick word about “Doc.” Dr. Augustine and his lovely wife Beverly have been friends of mine since I was 12 years old. I started my community service and volunteer work with the M & N Augustine Foundation, and I still work with them. My parents work with them, and my grandfather worked with them (my grandfather, Kenneth McKee, and Doc became friends when Gengan was a civil rights liaison for Governor Winthrop Rockefeller and Doc was a student involved in the civil rights movement). Doc, I look forward to many more years with you and the Foundation!

I have made dozens of friends through the Foundation and have had many learning experiences about diversity, community service, and the benefits of life-long activism. If you are looking for an organization where you can volunteer or give your time or money, the M & N Augustine Foundation should be at the top of the list!! It is local, there are plenty of opportunities to volunteer, and the Augustines are fabulous people whose hearts are always in the same place as their actions.

06 April 2009

My Bucket List

I have a Bucket List. Number 23 on my list is "visit every state park in Arkansas and document it." When I say "visit every state park and document it," I don't mean just drive through and take a picture with the sign. I mean I really want to visit them - I want to participate in the activities Arkansas has to offer. We have 52 state parks (2 under construction) in Arkansas, and each park has amazing sights and unique events that take us back and move us forward.

On a recent trip to Little Rock, I took a short side trip to Scott, Arkansas, to see how much time I would need to spend at the two state park sites there. The Toltec Mounds Archeological State Park is on the site of a Native American civilization that lived there nearly 1,000 years ago. The Plantation Agriculture Museum focuses on cotton agriculture in Arkansas from 1836 until World War II. I will definitely be taking time to go back to both of those places!

BUT the real reason I am writing this particular entry is to brag on what has made my personal list of "Top 10 Best Restaurants in Arkansas." Cotham's Mercantile. It was opened in 1917 as a general store, and it served as a military commissary and jail. In 1984, a small restaurant was added to feed locals. When Bill Clinton and David Pryor discovered the restaurant, it quickly became the place to go for lunch – and still is. You can't beat the view or the service! The restaurant is famous for its Hub Cap Hamburger. I now know from experience that it really should be known for its FRIED GREEN TOMATOES!! If you're ever in that part of the state, take a short jaunt over to Scott and Cotham's Mercantile. You'll be VERY pleased that you did!