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Exploring the Ouachitas Behind the Stables of Oaklawn

Life on the Farm Birds of Prey Plus: Dryden Pottery Fly Tying Off Roading The Culinary District

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There’s even more to love at Oaklawn in 2015! Our expansion is now complete and that means more of your favorite games! Play hundreds of new games and grab a bite at the new Silks Bar and Grill … and all just a few minutes’ drive — not hours away. Come get lucky!

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Arkansas’ favorite place to play.

For Hot Springs lodging, dining, and shopping information, visit HotSprings.org. Gambling problem? Call 1-800-522-4700.


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SPRING 2015

Contents

27

What’s Inside

22 27

Behind the Stables

The Magic of Oaklawn Race Track

Life on the Farm

Growing Goodness in the Ouachita High Country

32 37

Kings of the Mountains

Two Falconers Help Indigenous Wildlife Soar Once Again

Sweet Sounds in the Valley

Where Music and Nature Meet Every Spring

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18

ART

Creative Director Marisa Rodgers

32

COPY

Contributing Writers Ciara Cerrato Jim G. Miller Shea Childs Denise Parkinson Joshua James Chris Summerville Jeremy Mackey Josh Williams Copy Editor Cathy Hicks

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P H OTO

Chief Photographer/Photo Editor Jeremy Rodgers

Departments

Contributing Photographers Jim G. Miller Denise Parkinson

New to the Ouachitas

Entertaining

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41

Off the Roads

Where Cross Country and Enduro is King

10

12

The Paddle Junkie

Lisa Logan Becomes Operational with Ouachita Kayak Tour Ventures

Fly Tying Culture

New Hands Aim to Perfect an Ancient Practice

Food for Thought

Intellecual Nourishment in the Heart of High Country

Glance Back

48

Vintage Venues

The Old Haunts & Happenings of America’s First Resort Town

Fare

14

Copper Penny Pub

Irish-Inspired Fare with a High Country Flare

Music & Arts

16

18

6

Kristal Mackey

Mark Edgar Stuart

Arkansas Native Weaves a Storied Past of Love and Nostalgia

History’s Oldest Art

Generations of Clay Weilding Spin a New Era & a Classic Craft

O u ac h i ta Hi gh C ou nt r y

In Each Issue

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20 50

Letter from the Editors

Bringing the Ouachitas Back to Life

Calendar of Events

What’s Happening This Spring

In Your Words

Reader’s Submissions: Twilight: A Study by Kai Coggin

S A L ES

Josh Williams Ouachita High Country is a production of Destination Design Initiative, pending 501c3 in partnership with Hot Springs Village. For advertising opportunities: ohcads@rendercreativegroup.com or call 501-620-4520 For editorial queries: Please write to: Render Creative Group attn: Ouachita High Country 801 Central Avenue, Suite 30 Hot Springs, AR 71901 or email info@rendercreativegroup.com To subscribe: Visit ouachitahighcountry.com or see page 3 for mail-in form and full details.

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L e t t e r F r o m t h e E d i t o rS

Bringing the Ouachitas Back to Life

For those of us fortunate enough to call the Ouachitas home, we know there is no season quite anticipated such as spring. It is a time of renewal, beauty, and creativity, and it infuses our community with energy. Though the first day of spring officially is March 20th, that first balmy evening when the scent of new seedlings permeates the air and those first green leaves that open up to catch the sunlight often come sooner to us in the high country and much to our splendor. This issue aims to capture even those earliest, enlivening moments and is inspired by the vigor and creativity they engender throughout the entire season. We were moved to cover stories about the animals in our community and their role in our local industry and health. The symbiotic and nurturing relationship between human and hawk explored in “Kings of the Mountains” is particularly inspiring for us. And where would we be here in the Ouachitas during spring without the reawakened bustle of our local farms? Of course, what makes spring a powerful symbol of rebirth is its cyclic nature. Each spring is set into motion by the seeds of the past, and isn’t this cycle an allegory for the course of historically saturated towns such as Hot Springs National Park? The current work of local artists such as the Dryden potters could not exist without the generational legacy upon which it is built. Musicians and the local festivals like the Valley of the Vapors that herald them, entertainers like the jockeys, trainers, and horses that carry on the excitement of Oaklawn racing: these cultural mainstays of our region have been set into motion by the arts and entertainment legacy of our past. Our spring issue is a recognition of the seeds of our past and a celebration of the current blossoms they beget. We invite you to celebrate with us. Ou a c hit a H ighCo u ntr y .com

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NE W TO T H E O U A C H I T A S

Off the Roads

Hot Springs born brothers James and Scotty King learned to race almost before they could walk and they have been racing in Cross Country and Extreme Enduro Races around the world ever since. The rocky Ouachita terrain is challenging, but perfect for establishing yourself on a dirt bike. The major difference is that you can go 2060 mph on rocks and in the mud, but you can go 100+ miles per hour in the desert. “I ride a CRF 450 R which is like a freaking rocket ship,” says James who also rides a Honda 250 RS. Choosing the best bike for a particular terrain is crucial, especially when first getting on a dirt bike. The Kings have made their training ground at the Hot Springs ORV Park, an official sponsor of their race team, and they also offer classes for others

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O u ac h i ta Hi gh C ou nt r y

Where Cross Country and Enduro is King by Jim G. Miller photography by Jeremy Rodgers

interested in learning the sport. “Our dad Scot rode dirt bikes all his life,” says James. Scot’s jeeping hobby has also helped to prepare his sons for riding competitively. With race manager Tony Calkins, they have toured across the U.S. and just recently returned from the 4th Annual King of the Motos, the toughest extreme enduro race in the United States. The King of the Motos became so popular that it branched off into a series of seven races leading up to the big one in Johnson Valley, California. One race in the series leading up to the Nitto, King of the Motos takes place right here in the Ouachita High Country at the Hot Springs ORV Park. It’s made up of a variety of races that include endurance desert racing, competition-style rock crawls, and short course racing and it provides a little bit of something for

everybody, depending on what type of motoring you’re into. If you have driven anywhere off-road or on the rough Arkansas asphalt then you know that it’s a challenging terrain to manage ,whether you’re on four wheels or just two. These major enduro races require a lot of time and money to manage which is why many of them depend on their sponsors. Aside from offering classes on the side, both Scotty and James are still in high school and college, respectively. They also juggle part time landscaping jobs, in addition to keeping an insane schedule with racing, but they are fueled by the adrenaline and competitiveness of the sport. “There’s no dead ends with racing, you get as much in as you put out,” says James. Because they constantly look forward to new races and employ such a strong work ethic,


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they only take two months off every year. Changing their own oil, checking their bearings, and conducting other routine maintenance takes just as much time as practicing and racing. Off roading can be a dangerous sport and injuries are a typical element of the game. “I’ve seen guys who had to get taken out on a medi-vac from a race,” says James. Fighting against the elements, equipment malfunctions, and in some cases, even other racers, adds a level of intensity and chaos to the sport that can only be experienced by participating in the race. Along their epic Enduro journey, King Racing has gathered numerous vendor sponsors and friends along the way, but they are always on the lookout for more. As pro class racers, they’ve both become accustomed to breezing by pine trees 2 inches from their handlebars at a high rate of speed. With an abundance of open land and opportunities to ride in the area it’s a fun outdoor sport to participate in with the family. They also endeavor to stay in touch and become incorporated with their local community through events and fundraisers at sponsored locations. “It’s

a fairly loud and destructive pastime,” says James smiling to himself, giving away that he enjoys every second of it. They have the capability of converting an abandoned parking lot into a mini enduro cross track with logs and large boulders. It makes for some fun entertainment and gives the brothers an opportunity to share their passion with the community.

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Two major races that take place in Hot Springs are the Arkansas Hare Scramble Championship Series, an Enduro race, and the Arkansas Cross Country (AXC) race. Upcoming AHSCS Races in the High Country take place in Amity at Lost Creek Park on April 12th, and the Hot Water Race in Hot Springs, Arkansas on May 3rd. There are several other races that take place in the Hare Scramble Championship series all throughout Arkansas. To learn more, visit http://www. ahscs.com/calendar/. The next AXC race is scheduled for June 6-7 at Foxx Runn and again at Lost Creek in late October or early November. For details and contacts on other AXC races visit www.axcracing.com/2015_Schedule. htm. Keep track of the King Racing family on Facebook or contact James King at (501) 318-3585 for info about classes or upcoming race events.

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NE W TO T H E O U A C H I T A S

The Paddle Junkie

In 2008, Lisa Logan decided to make a career move that meant returning home to Arkansas. She fled the Ouachita High Country long ago for adventure, travel, and the excitement of city life, so returning was not what she had planned. However, now that she’s settled in a small community near Sims, Arkansas, she’s right where she wants to be. She grew up camping, swimming, water skiiing, and paddling on Lake Ouachita and even now she’s constantly on the lookout for a new outdoor experience. Logan was the typical kid who enjoyed the outdoors and she had what you might consider a charmed outdoor upbringing. She has since learned not to take the little things for granted when growing up in the heart of a national forest and beautiful natural landscape. It was this overwhelming nostalgia and freedom of being one with nature that

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O u ac h i t a Hi gh C ount r y

Lisa Logan Becomes Operational with Ouachita Kayak Tours Venture by Jim G. Miller photography by Jeremy Rodgers

encouraged her to leave St. Louis and get a job back in Arkansas as an upper respiratory therapist. Although she commutes to work now and sometimes has to work the graveyard shift, she is content with her life and the opportunities for adventure that lie ahead. Able to spend time with her family and loved ones while still being able to embark on the occasional kayak trip or hiking excursion, Lisa recently finished her Ouachita by Kayak journey where she traversed the entire perimeter of Lake Ouachita in a 2001 15 foot perception Carolina. According to the Corps of Engineers it was a 700-mile journey. She witnessed the splendor of nature first hand, weathered brutal storms, and at times faced the challenge of paddling against fearsome high winds in her Ouachita by Kayak excursion. Logan is

now an experienced navigator of one of the most unique and pristine lakes in the United States and by documenting the entire process via her official Facebook page, Logan was able to bring friends along on occasion, as well as her two trusty dogs, Bella and Callie. Photographing nature, testing her mettle by keeping a steady pace, and challenging herself to paddle further each day, Logan has a strong perseverance when she’s sitting snug in her kayak on the lake. “While it’s fun to see how many miles you can get in a day, it’s not the only reason I paddle. You get to see things, especially on the slow days that you might have otherwise missed or not bothered to stop and take a photo of. It reminds you to just stop for a moment and enjoy the sights and sounds of the lake,” says Logan. As Logan explains, she was not just paddling, but examining the coves and inlets of the lake and unusual


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rock formations and beach lines the entire time that she was on the lake. So what is next for Logan now that her Ouachita by Kayak journey is over? She is currently leading guided day trips on Lake Ouachita offering a relaxing and exploratory opportunity for people to witness some of the brilliance of the lake that she discovered in her personal journey. Doing half-day and full day trips with either individual or group tours, Ouachita Kayak Tours can also provide you with a customized tour of the lake depending on your particular interests. Acquiring the fleet of kayaks, complete with Werner paddles and life jackets from Ouachita Outdoor Outfitters, she’s now equipped to begin giving tours. The fleet is made up of Venture “Easky” Kayaks, both 15’ and 17’ long. A well-known tourer with traditional British sea kayak pedigree, the Easky 15’ from Venture Kayaks is fast, holds a line well and will handle rougher waters with ease. A comfortable cockpit combined with a stable hull shape provides the performance potential to help you develop skills with confidence. A lake recreation junkie, Logan also enjoys paddle boarding and paddling in play boats (smaller kayaks) and these options are also available to try out when booking with Ouachita Kayak Tours. “The idea of getting somebody to pay me for being on the lake just sounds fabulous to me,” confides Logan. She isn’t planning on stopping there, however, as she has

plans to hopefully begin working with the Corps of Engineers to organize kayak races on Lake Ouachita. With the water warming up, Ouachita Kayak Tours will begin booking on Friday, March 20th. On the first day of the spring equinox, Logan will have multiple launch points so the possibilities of seeing portions of the lake that you’ve never seen are quite possible. Lake Ouachita was created when Blakely Mountain Dam impounded the waters of the Ouachita River near Hot Springs and it is the largest lake in Arkansas, covering over 40,000 acres. The lake is virtually surrounded by the Ouachita National Forest and has one of Arkansas’s most pristine shorelines. The 40-mile-long lake is also a favorite of sailors for its vast stretches of open water and scuba divers enjoy the clear waters. Recreational boating, water skiing, and other water sports are also very popular on Lake Ouachita, which boasts more than 100 uninhabited islands for primitive camping. Lake Ouachita is one of Arkansas’ finest outdoor destinations featuring Lake Ouachita State Park (with cabins), commercial marinas and resorts, and more than 400 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers campsites. If you are interested in booking your maiden voyage on Lake Ouachita call Logan at (501) 725-2925. You can also visit them on Facebook and on their official website at www.ouachitakayaktours.com.

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NE W TO T H E O U A C H I T A S

Fly Tying Culture

Although the first book on Fly Tying was published just prior to the year 1500, it has been determined that the Macedonians used colored wools and feathers tied to hooks to catch fish. As early as 200 AD, there are written descriptions of Macedonians catching a speckled fish from a nearby river. The introduction of more advanced materials and tools-waxed silk fly line in place of horse hair fly line, for example, or a vice to hold flies as they’re tied instead of relying just on one’s fingers, has greatly advanced the craft over the past several hundred years. In the early 1900’s, George Skues put forth the idea that fish would also feed on the nymph stage of an insect. This simple revolution in fly fishing has given birth to an intricate art form that now includes hundreds of patterns that can combine traditional materials, like wool, feathers, wire, and silk with more contemporary materials, like chenille, flash,

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O u ac h i t a Hi gh C ount r y

New Hands Aims to Perfect an Ancient Practice by Chris Summerville photography by Jeremy Rodgers

plastic legs, and epoxy resin, all designed to maximize the fisherman’s enjoyment of the great outdoors. Most people who get into fly tying are fly fishermen, but not all. Some are fishermen who use bait or spin casting tackle, while some are surgeons from the medical field who want to improve their dexterity and hand-eye coordination. Trout fishermen are not the only ones who tie their own flies either. Many Crappie and Bass fishermen here in Arkansas like to tie and make their own jigs and baits. Some tie flies for just about anything that swims. Most fishermen get into fly tying because they want to have the satisfaction of knowing that their version of a fly is what deceived a fish. When weather or busy schedules won’t accommodate other activities, fly fishing offers the opportunity

for time on the water. Many Arkansans spend a good bit of time running around the woods with a firearm or bow and arrow during hunting season, and fly tying can also allow these hunters turned craftsmen to use hair and feathers from the animals killed that would otherwise be thrown away. Treating and handling them properly requires more work and planning, but also provides a deeper connection with the entire process. Many say that fly tying produces better fishermen because more attention is paid to the insects and what is happening on the water. When fly tyers do this, they’re trying to “match the hatch”. Many aquatic insects go through various life cycles and being able to correctly identify not only the type of insect but the correct life cycle will often make the difference between a successful or unsuccessful day. This is a phrase that is more common in trout


fishing but all fishermen can benefit from being more aware of their surroundings and being in the moment. Fly tying has a long and rich history and several Arkansans have contributed to that history, the two most prominent being Dave Whitlock and Duane Hada. They have spent their lives honing fly patterns and techniques on the rivers and streams of Arkansas, specifically the White River and Crooked Creek. Many of those patterns work well on our streams and rivers here in the Ouachita Mountains, as well. If you’re wondering how you can get into fly tying there are a variety of different avenues. One of the easiest ways is to contact your local fly fishing club. There are several here in Arkansas and a quick Google search should let you know what organizations are in your area. There are also several annual events, usually hosted by a fly fishing club or shop, here in the Natural State where you can learn about tying. The Little Missouri Fly Fishing festival, traditionally held on Presidents day weekend in Murfreesboro, is a great place to start. The Sowbug Roundup is held in late March every year in Mountain Home. There is also an event called the Streamer Lovefest held at Dally’s Ozark Flyfisher in Cotter. This event is mostly about tying streamers, which are large flies generally used to target bigger fish, in this case, the large Brown Trout of the White River. For more information about tools and techniques visit your local fly shop. Ouachita Outdoor Outfitters in Hot Springs, The Ozark Angler in Little Rock, and The Toad Fly in Conway all have knowledgeable staff and a wide selection of tools and materials. Ou a c hit a H ighCo u nt ry.com

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FARE

Copper Penny Pub

In 2004, the First Ever First Annual World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade was born on Bridge Street. Copper Penny Pub, Hot Springs’ only Irish-themed pub, wasn’t around then, but the owners and staff are excited to be a part of it in 2015. The parade is one of many factors boosting the recovery of the downtown Hot Springs economy. In just the last few years, The Superior Bathhouse was transformed into a restaurant and brewery, Maxine’s Live has emerged as a premier live music venue, and Oxy-Zen brought the full oxygen bar experience to the Spa City. In 2014, the American Planning Association added Central Avenue to their list of Great Streets in America, and sitting right here on that great street, in the middle of all downtown has to offer, is 711 Central Avenue, where the Copper Penny Pub pours pints from 11 a.m. until the early morning hours.

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O u ac h i t a Hi gh C ount r y

The owners of Copper Penny, Mike Tankersly and Peggy Bodemann, were looking at several possible locations when they decided they wanted to open a bar and restaurant. Tankersly said they chose the Central Avenue location because they wanted to “contribute to the revitalization of downtown.” The menu is an eclectic mix of Irish fare and local favorites. The Irish stew is delectable, but the burgers are the biggest sellers. A testament to Copper Penny’s local flavor, Ambrosia bakery on Central Avenue supplies the buns on which the half-pound juicy hamburger patty sits. Another Irish-inspired American favorite is the Reuben sandwich, whose rye bread is supplied by another local bakery, Mueller’s, located on Crawford Drive. Local chef Lee Brooks said he was impressed with Copper Penny’s ambiance

Irish-Inspired Fare with a High Country Flare by Joshua James photography by Jeremy Rodgers

and the food. “I love this place,” Brooks said. “The menu is small which means you can focus on those things and do them right. And the way the place feels- it’s really a neighborhood pub where you can just relax and have a beer and eat good food.” Every Sunday Copper Penny offers a brunch menu. Mimosas and Bloody Mary’s complement the steak and eggs and chicken and waffles. The menu itself is a local creation, having been largely developed by Hot Springs native Susannah Wright. For Valentine’s Day, Bodemann served up her personal shepherd’s pie recipe, which proved to be a hot commodity that Saturday night, and she plans to bring it back for St. Paddy’s Day. Bodemann said she uses the locals’ suggestions as a gauge to determine what kinds of new items to add, specials to offer, and the overall direction to take the business.


Like any pub worth its lager, Copper Penny also hosts live music every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. On Fridays and Saturdays the pub features a revolving door of up and coming bands who play anything from rock to country to Irish-themed music. Every Thursday, however, Professor Tele, a foursome of all local musicians, plays an eclectic variety of crowd favorites. Professor Tele’s vocalist, Shane Simanton, has been playing venues in Hot Springs for decades. After hearing Simanton’s band play a few times, Bodemann invited them to play the Copper Penny. “We’ve kind of adopted Shane and he’s kind of adopted us,” Bodemann said. “They’ve become our house band I’d say. And they do a great job every week.” “In the summer we had a lot of really good nights in there,” stated Kenny Tillery, bass player for Professor Tele. “Downtown is cool because you get a good mix of locals and out-of-towners. We get a lot of local people who come in there on Thursdays.” Drummer Brian George is another Hot Springs native and music veteran. “Brian’s been playing around here since he was like 12,” Tillery said. Grayson Goff, Professor Tele’s guitarist, is also from the Spa City. He’s only 21 but shreds the guitar like a vet. Copper Penny has several specials planned for the St. Patrick’s Day parade. The price of Guinness will be discounted and the domestic beer will be dyed green. The pub will also expand its business to the patio outside to serve beer to Bridge Street parade goers. Meeting people from around the world who come in to the pub is a large part of what Bodemann loves, but she says that the local regulars are of utmost importance. Her favorite times at the pub are when Hot Springs natives who have been at the Documentary Film Festival, Blues Fest, or any of the many special events Hot Springs hosts, come in to have a burger and a pint at the pub. Copper Penny is an “Irish-themed” pub; that’s an important distinction. “Irish” pubs, obviously, are found in Ireland. The owners thought that if they overdid the Irish theme it may seem disingenuous and turn off the Spa City natives. No tourist wants to be a “tourist.” That’s why when people go to Ireland, they don’t seek out the places tourists love; they look for the places the locals love. My advice is to do the same thing in Hot Springs, and the natives are crazy for Copper Penny.

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MUSIC

Mark Edgar Stuart

I first saw Mark up on stage at Maxine’s Live playing with another Memphis singer songwriter named Grace Askew. Both competently carried their own weight brandishing guitars and it became clear to me that Stuart was weighed down by his conscience as a storyteller. There was woefulness to his voice that plucked at your heartstrings without it sounding pretentious or at all condescending. Here was a guy from Pine Bluff, Arkansas being real with a guitar and a microphone.

Originally a sideman, Stuart was a bassist for The Pawtuckets, and was one of the One Four Fives. He’s performed with the likes of Alvin Youngblood Hart, John Paul Keith, Jack Oblivian and others. Throughout the process he has developed an individual sound through personal introspection thanks to the fact that he is a natural born storyteller. Playing often in Little Rock, Stuart joined the stage in 2003 with musician Cory Branan on “The Late Show with David Letterman.”

Both Stuart and Askew were not just in Hot Springs to play at Maxine’s, they were primarily here to play at the Keith Sykes Singer Songwriter Festival. Presented every year in the Crystal Ballroom of the Arlington Hotel this obscure little two night festival brings in nationally recognized songwriters and performers based in Memphis, Nashville and other musical capitals around the country.

Blues For Lou, Stuart’s debut album, was the story of his father, his best friend, and it was essentially Stuart’s break as a solo artist. He began writing songs when stricken with a bout of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Getting bored through his chemotherapy, he took on songwriting as something to help pass the time.

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O u ac h i t a Hi gh C ount r y

From Pine Bluff to Memphis an Arkansas Native Weaves a Storied Past of Love and Nostalgia by Jim G. Miller photography courtesy of Mark Edgar Stuart

Produced by Jeff Powell, who has also produced albums by Bob Dylan, Steve Ray Vaughan, and the Allman Brothers, it’s a strong first album that tells the story of Stuart’s past. They also have Arkansas connections doing early recordings for popular bands like Lucero. Producing Blues for Lou, the two have clearly formed a remarkable working relationship that is conducive to Stuart’s soulful sound. Through his rich vocal style and enlightening acoustic guitar, his debut album imprints itself into your psyche. Attributing to the people, places, and music of his Pine Bluff past it’s a reflective album that’s rich in pitch and sentiment rooted in the soul of love and knowing. Listening to Mark play, he becomes the storyteller up on stage making you wonder just exactly where the hell he came from


and where he’s been all your life. Disarming, charismatic, and funny, Stuart kills with the literacy of his lyrics and the sensitivity of his memory. Lines of dialogue, like from the song “Arkansas is Nice,” are an introspective summary of Stuart’s hometown. Plainspoken words that reflect poetic nostalgia in a confident and smooth way, his debut album was done in tribute to an almost forgotten style of music, as well as to his father. A root in the bastion that is the Memphis music scene, Stuart has just released a new album called Trinity My Dear. Using the same heart and plainspoken funny diatribe that was found consistently in his debut album, there is a bit more tenderness and longing, such as in the song “I Was So Crazy” where Stuart talks about the dissolution of love. A favorite on the album, there is catchiness to the melody and, despite the devastation, there’s hopefulness still to the composition of the song. Incorporating classical instruments like a Wurlitzer, organ, clarinet and multiple brass instruments, there is an upbeat big band sound to this album that circumvents the notion, emotion, and misfortunes of love.

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Recorded at Sun Studios, Ardent Studios and Sam Phillips Recording Service, Stuart’s second album was also produced, engineered and mixed by Jeff Powell. It is dedicated to the late Mr. Roland Janes, an obscure and yet renowned rockabilly guitarist and Memphis recording legend, who contributed in the development of the well known rockabilly playing style at Sun Records. Born in the small town of Brookings in Northeast Arkansas, only individuals who are immersed in the Memphis music scene may be familiar with him. Janes actually recorded the basic track for the song “We Were in Bloom” before his passing. Stuart dedicates the song to him as well as Bart Nuckolls and Julie Kyle. Stuart celebrated the record release at LaFayette’s Music Room in Memphis on March 1st with the full band, including John Argroves on percussion, Adam Woodard, Landon Moore, John Wittemore and other special guests, including Delta Joe Sanders who performed an opening set. Look out for Stuart as he will most assuredly be touring through the Delta and making his way through the Ouachita High Country with this new album. For updates on Stuart check out his official Facebook page and find his website online at www.markedgarstuart.com. Ou a c hit a H ighCo u nt ry.com

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A R TS

History’s Oldest Art

Painted in bold black letters across a sprawling white, brick building on Whittington Avenue in downtown Hot Springs are the words, History’s Oldest Art. This proclamation refers to pottery and pottery shards found in 2012 in China, date to the last Ice Age, some 20,000 years old. Fired earthenware is found in nearly every society around the globe from prehistory to present both as functional pieces to carry water or store food to art pieces with elaborate design and delicate detail for pure decoration. The elemental quality inherent in a handcrafted piece of pottery, the alchemy between earth, water, and fire all forged by human imagination and physical effort makes it resistant to being discarded as an art form. Ancient tradition and vanguard artistry combined permeate the work of the Dryden family pottery, the only national pottery born of the massive,

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post WWII studio pottery movement that is still owned and operated by the original family. What makes Dryden Pottery so attractive to collectors, like local Joe Hawk, is “that you can walk into the showroom knowing the legacy of the pottery, see those beautiful pieces and meet the artist that has made it”. In fact, you can watch the artist seamlessly coax an elegant vase from a small disk of clay right before your eyes. Since 2013, that artist has been Cheyenne Dryden, carrying on the mastery of his grandfather, Jim Dryden, and father Kimbo Dryden, combining whimsical imagination with a perfected skill. Watching a master potter on the wheel is deceiving. As the wheel spins and the potter’s hands drip water over the clay and smooth, pinch, pull and shape the piece, it appears effortless. Kimbo Dryden has had people

Generations of Clay Weilding Spin a New Era & a Classic Craft by Shea Childs photography by Jeremy Rodgers

say, “that didn’t take you any time at all to make that…but it took me 42 years to be able to make it in that time”. On busy days Kimbo has finessed 50 pots from his wheel with such talent that, lined up on the drying board, look as if a machine has calibrated their uniform, precise dimensions. Much has been written about the illustrious Dryden Pottery. Jim Dryden was a charismatic individual who came out of WWII ready to begin a business that spoke to his lifetime love of creating art. A series of chance meetings led Dryden to take a crash course in ceramics at University of Kansas and in chemistry at University of Illinois-Champaign with intention to utilize the natural resources around his hometown of Ellsworth, Kansas. Jim took advantage of the GI Bill and opened Dryden Pottery with a kiln and a Quonset Hut on a little state highway in 1946.


Business thrived in Kansas due to a knack for creative, marketing ideas such as guided tours complete with rattlesnake exhibit, commissioned custom pieces and distinctive labels on each piece of Dryden Pottery bearing the catchy slogan “A Melody In Glaze”. His pieces were sold all over the country and he also spent 1954-1956 creating pieces for the world renowned Van Briggle Pottery. Realizing a new Interstate 70 bypassing Ellsworth would surely divert most of his tourist and customer base, he moved his wife, two kids and kiln to 341 Whittington Avenue, in the middle of a bustling Hot Springs National Park in 1956, steps off the main thoroughfare into town, where the local raw materials were abundant and the tourist trade was booming. An inclination toward experimentation led to Dryden’s innovative techniques in ceramics. He was the first, with his professor Sheldon Carey, to use Kansas volcanic ash in glazes, the first to successfully achieve both a matte and a glossy glaze in a single firing, the first and still only pottery to use Arkansas novaculite in both the clay of the pots and glazes as well, which makes for an extremely durable, scratch resistant piece. The process requires not only physical strength to manipulate the materials and artistic vision but tremendous dedication of labor, skill and energy. Today, when you pick up a signature Dryden vase with exquisite design and glazes there are 3 generations of Dryden ingenuity in its shape. Sheer dedication has sustained the Dryden Pottery through the boom and bust cycles that affect any industry. James “Kimbo” Dryden was 3 years old when his father

moved the Dryden operation to Hot Springs. By the time he was 12, his father put him to work. Squirreled away in an incredibly hot workspace near the industrial kiln, his dad thought working on the wheel would keep the adventurous Kimbo busy and out of trouble. The elder Dryden proved very resourceful in discovering potential potters and mold makers. In seeking “a strong man” capable of handling the massive volume of clay and possessing the muscle required to form each pot, a young Kimbo was enlisted to instruct a handful of Hot Springs firemen, including future fire chief Arval Sanders, on the basics of the wheel. Sanders so enjoyed the art form that he even attempted his own operation years later. Dryden drove to Ft. Chaffee in 1975 where refugees fleeing retaliation from North Vietnam were housed awaiting safe placement within the US, doled out clay to several men gathered there and hired the one he considered to have the most potential as a potter. Loi won the challenge, relocated his family to Hot Springs and worked for Dryden Pottery for more than a decade. After being sent to Big Creek Pottery School in California to refine the art of throwing on the wheel, an 18 year old Kimbo returned to manage the growing production of the pottery, incorporating time saving spray glazing rather than dipped and hand painted glaze which proved helpful in the boom years of the 70s and 80s. Over 500 people found employment at the pottery over the years, but it is the family that moves it forward. Kimbo and his young wife moved in to the small studio apartment above the factory in 1977 and it was in that room where their first of three sons was born. All three of Kimbo’s sons

grew up in the pottery, watching their dad throw pots on the wheel and their Grandad personalize pieces with his signature dental drill. Although all three worked summers at the pottery and all three have tremendous artistic talent, it was Cheyenne who took up the family trade as potter when he was 20. For 6 years, customers could visit with all three generations of Dryden artists, all equally compelling and warm, Jim personalizing mugs, Kimbo throwing on the wheel and Cheyenne expertly glazing pots. When Jim Dryden passed away in 2004, he left the pottery in excellent hands. In the decade since his passing, Kimbo and Cheyenne have produced thousands of pieces ranging from gorgeous dinner plates, to etched vases, from lidded cookie jars to giant serving bowls decorated with dragons, from coffee mugs to cartoonish figurative work, all the while maintaining his traditions of studio tours, commissioned pottery and mastery of the wheel. After 42 years of being a world renowned potter and the inherent wear and tear on the body, Kimbo Dryden retired in 2013. Cheyenne Dryden keeps the legacy moving forward occasionally enlisting his dad for heavy production days. “Cheyenne is a better artist than me”, says Kimbo and “I am enjoying drinking ginger tea and eating breakfast without rushing to the pottery.” Time will tell if Cheyenne’s son, born in the same apartment above the studio, will pick up the family trade. Until then, treat yourself to an American treasure, a piece of history, visit Dryden Pottery where you can feel tradition, imagination, devotion, labor, transformation, and resilience in its walls. Ou a c hit a H ighCo u nt ry.com

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S P R I N G E V ENT C A L END A R

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Reopening of Mid-America Science Museum Mid-America Science Museum

Spa City Mountain Bike Marathon Cedar Glades Park, HS

Hot Springs Music Festival Chorus & The Village Chorale present a Collaborative Concert St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, 228 Spring St.

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JAMfest 21-22 Bank of the Ozarks Arena Arkansas Symphony 22 Orchestra

Beauty and the Bride, Hot Springs Bridal Expo Hot Springs Country Club

Stardust Big Band Arlington Resort Hotel & Spa

Rhythm Jam Grove Park, HSV

Henderson State University Symphony Band Concert Arkansas Hall, Arkadelphia

Arkansas High School State Basketball Finals Bank of the Ozarks Arena

World’s First Ever 12th Annual World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade Downtown Hot Springs

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St. Patrick’s Day Balboa Club, HSV

The Muses Project presents “Celtic Spring” The Muses Cultural Center/ Garvan Woodland Gardens

Pedalpalooza River Market Pavilions, Little Rock

The Five Star Dinner Theatre presents “On Golden Pond” The Five Star Dinner Theatre

11th Annual Valley of the Vapors Independent Music Festival Various Venues in Downtown Hot Springs National Quilting Day Historic Arkansas Museum

Diamond Chef Arkansas Preliminary Competition Pulaski Technical College Culinary Arts, Little Rock

8 12-14 13-15 14

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* May 1

4th Annual $75,000 Hot Springs Fishing Challenge Begins Hot Springs’ Lakes Catherine and Hamilton

Gallery Walk Downtown Hot Springs

Arts and the Park Arts Festival Downtown Hot Springs

Rock Porch Sessions featuring Donnie Mathis Grove Park, HSV

Hot Springs Area Art Studio Tours Hot Springs Studios and Galleries

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2 2-3

XTERRA Epic Trail Run Arkadelphia

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Cinco de Mayo Balboa Club, HSV

23-27 27-28

Garvan Woodland Gardens Spring Break in the Park Queen Wilhelmina State Park,

Archery Shooting Sports Tournament Hot Springs Convention Center

Bennie Wheels Walkin’ the Line, Tribute to Johnny Cash Woodlands Auditorium, HSV

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Eggscellent Easter! Garvan Woodland Gardens

Mystic Creatures: Topiary Art Takes Flight Exhibit Begins Garvan Woodland Gardens

Revolution Dance Talent Competition Hot Springs Convention Center

Summerfest Uptown on Park Avenue “BBQ Challenge” 100-700 blocks of Park Ave

8-10 9 15 16

Spring in Bloom Garden Expo Balboa Pavilion, HSV

10th Annual Stueart Pennington Running of the Tubs Downtown Hot Springs

OPEAKFIT fundraiser Catherine’s Landing, 1700 Shady Grove

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Rhythm Jam Grove Park, HSV


*2 April

Gardening 101 Garvan Woodland Gardens

3 3-5

Gallery Walk Downtown Hot Springs Annual Easter Event Weekend Daisy State Park, Kirby

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Easter (Hunt & Crafts) Grove Park, HSV

Five Star Dinner Theatre presents Elvis Tribute Artist Tony Witt The Five Star Theatre

Rock Porch Sessions featuring Midnight Parade Grove Park, HSV

Delta Region Volleyball 4-5 Championship

Hot Springs Convention Center

The Pocket Theatre presents “Harvey” The Pocket Theatre, 170 Ravine St.

10-12

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Hollywood Hillbillies presented by Village Players Woodlands Auditorium, HSV

Summerfest Uptown on Park Avenue “Tresure Hunt” 100-700 blocks of Park Ave

Central AR Corvette Club Car Show Hot Springs Convention Center

The Pocket Theatre presents “Harvey” The Pocket Theatre, 170 Ravine St.

11 16-18 17-19 18

First Annual Hot Springs Gumbo & Crawfish Festival Hill Wheatley Plaza Iron Mt. Mountain Bike Marathon Arkadelphia

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Artisan Market Grove Park, HSV Rhythm Jam Grove Park, HSV

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24-26 25

Sharon Turrentine Spring Concert Garvan Woodland Gardens Earth Day Program Grove Park, HSV Warlburg College Wind Ensemble Woodlands Auditorium, HSV Guided Kayaking Tour Cossatot River, Wickes

Jack-N-Back Half Marathon & Run Down Jack 5K Jack Mountain/Highway 84 jack-n-back.com

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Hot Springs Concert Band & Ice Cream Social Woodlands Auditorium, HSV Jewish Food and Cultural Festival War Memorial Stadium, LR The Chef’s Table Coronado Community Center, HSV

June 25

Hot Springs Concert Band Free Summer Concert Series Whittington Park Du for the Parks Duathlon Transportation Depot, 100 Broadway Terrace

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2015 British National Car Meet Hot Springs Convention Center, The Austin Hotel, Hot Springs Village

Hot Springs Craft Beer Festival Hot Springs Convention Center Magic Springs Concert Series “Randy Houser” Magic Springs Bryant Kids Triathlon Bryant

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Hot Springs Music Festival, Season 20 Begins Various Locales, Hot Springs

Mark Your Calendar! 5-7

6-7

The Pocket Theatre presents “The Odd Couple” The Pocket Theatre, 170 Ravine St.

37th Annual Lum & Abner Festival: Radio Shows Janssen Park, Mena visitmena.com

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17-20

TRI-the-Village Sprint Triathlon Hot Springs Village

38th Annual Turkey Track Bluegrass Festival Turkey Track Bluegrass Park, Waldron

18-20

The Arkansas State HOG Rally Hot Springs Convention Center

Ou a c hit a H ighCo u nt ry.com

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OAKLAWN

Behind the Stables 22

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The Magic of Oaklawn Race Track by Jim G. Miller photography by Jeremy Rodgers

Every year the dawn of February brings throngs of people from all over the world to Oaklawn Park. In 1904, Hot Springs became the birthplace of the racing festival of the south and February signals the convergence of owners, breeders, trainers, jockeys, groomers, gamblers, and all-around horse gawking enthusiasts to the Park. Few can blame these devotees for their beliefs in the significance and tradition behind this magical equestrian sport. For many visitors to the track, their interest lies primarily in what they can see from the grandstand, where the most exciting two minutes of the sport take place. However, the majority of the work is done behind the scenes and true enthusiasts know that the real stories of passion and heart come not from the track, but from the stables. The trainers, jockeys, groomers, and hot walkers all lovingly care for the horses. “Every horse is an individual,” says Traci Michele who works mornings walking the horses for the stables of D. Wayne Lucas. There are different types of owners, just like there are different types of horses, and trainers. “If you don’t love it you can’t do it,” says Edvin, an exercise rider. Many famous horses have graced the track at Oaklawn – Temperance Hill, Cigar, Curlin, Azeri, Smarty Jones, Afleet Alex, Zenyatta. They’ve all been in one of the more than one hundred stables behind the track. Bruce Brecken is a trainer’s trainer who breeds working class horses for working class people. A regular kind

of guy, he makes up the real spirit of what Oaklawn was founded on. “I grew up coming to the track since I was a kid with my old man, and I just fell in love with it,” says Brecken. “It’s too late to turn back now,” he laughs. At seven days a week it’s not all glitz and glamour. Offering no weekends off to recuperate from the crazy hours, it’s definitely something you do because you love it. It’s also an expensive career choice, but in the end, Brecken says it’s worth it. “Horses can’t think, but they can remember,” says Brecken. And he is right. “A lot of trainers are just looking or waiting for the opportunity to get the right horse,” says Brecken. Occasionally a fluke will occur that allows someone to just get lucky with a horse, while sometimes there are also fake favorites or horses that are merely bred to be winners. Ou a c hit a H ighCo u nt ry.com

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OAKLAWN

“I do the sport for more than just the gambling, it just makes sense to me,” says Sebastian Nicholl who came here from England in 1999. An avid fox hunter, he helps Mr. Lucas to keep his stables running like a well oiled machine. A hall of fame trainer, Mr. Lucas has won more Triple Crown races than any other trainer at Oaklawn. For many the track is their livelihood, and they depend on it to come around each year as their main source of income during the tourist upswing. Hats, chaps, halters and leads, the sight of bicycles lined up outside the stables, a horse that breaks loose from its walker and runs amok through the

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stables and in the parking lot until it’s reined in. Yes, the backside of the track is a place of beauty with a life of its own. The smell of the stablesalfalfa hay & spent grains blended with the pungent odor of the fertilizer, moist dirt, and the musty aroma of the horse-rings, nostalgic with the sound of Latinos singing and the hammering of horseshoes. The swish of the broom compliments the tenor of the rake and various accents – British, Jamaican, Latin American-provide a steady staccato to the stables. It’s also a place of deals and heated arguments in this behind the scenes world and while standing in the stables, I hear two men negotiating over the price of straw. In this world

of love and pain, it’s easy to get stepped on or to get your hand caught wrong in the reins of a horse. Broken hands and feet are a common thing when working at a racetrack. There’s always something cutthroat going on, whether it’s a firing, a hiring, or some drama business. The entire network, though, always seems bonded as a family with everyone smiling and being accepting. It’s not a difficult place to build trust and relationships, even with the animals. Fat tomcats with plenty of hay to sleep on and mice to devour have also claimed the stables as homes. Quite a few of the stable hands keep them as pets if they ’re strays, although most of the cats don’t really need owners.


If anything, they lay claim to the stables of their choosing. As unofficial mascots, they stay clear of the bridle path. Mr. Zack, or “Z” as some call him, has a pet pigeon named Beastie. It’s the colorful characters like Zack that really make Oaklawn a unique place to visit and experience. There is certainly nothing like standing outside on an exquisite spring day and watching these beautiful animals racing at their best. The color of the silks and the variety of ponies competing throughout the entire season allows you the luxury of never getting bored with the races. “The races are more competitive this year than it has been, especially the open maidens & the allowance races,” says trainer Bruce Brecken. For those unfamiliar

with racing, there are four different race classes. There are the maiden races, claiming races, allowance races, and stake races. Maiden races include horses that have either never won a race or that have never even run a race before, meaning that in some cases these are the best bred horses and often have the best connected owners, breeders and trainers. Claiming races mean that the horses may be purchased by a qualified, licensed person for the claiming after the race and allowance races mean that the horse has met the set conditions in order for it to race. Oaklawn offers tours to guests interested in seeing the backside of the track beginning late February and lasting until the end of the season in midApril. The finale ends with the Arkansas Derby on April 11th.

Going to the track is an outing. Embedded in the history of our southern culture, it’s an experience unlike any other that’s also affordable, depending on how much you decide to bet. Regardless of your luck or whether you win or lose, it’s easy to have fun. Just remember to wear your best hat.

Ou a c hit a H ighCo u nt ry.com

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TERMINIX HOT SPRINGS VILLAGE

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501.922.2858 Book Your Golf Online at Great Rates!

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Protecting the health and property of Arkansas people Locally owned and operated in HSV since 1970

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Life on the Farm Growing Goodness in the Ouachita High Country by Jim G. Miller & Denise Parkinson photography by Jim G. Miller & Denise Parkinson

Ou a c hit a H ighCo u nt ry.com

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THE FARM

Arkansas thrives on agriculture, it always has and it always will, just ask any of the small independent farmers who make up the agronomic and husbandry communities in the Ouachita High Country. They are the pillars of every farmers market and the ones who make it possible for locals to eat and use healthy locally-sourced products. With springtime approaching, we imagine the honeybees pollinating local flora, bringing with it the sprouting of a fresh season. To really delve into the lives of some high country farmers, we took a visit to their farms and saw first hand where our food comes from. There are numerous benefits to supporting local agriculture, and it’s always enlightening to witness the hard work and strong principles of the farmers who work to grow the fruit, vegetables, eggs and meat we eat, and even the artisans who bake our bread, can our preserves, and make our soaps. The first farm we visited was JV Farms, a third generation farm that is home to goats, hogs, and chickens, and owned by husband and wife Jay and Valorie Lee. The Lees butcher their own meat and process deer at Cypress

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Valley Meat Company in Hot Springs. They then sell their meat products at both the Historic Hot Springs Farmers Market in Hot Springs and at the Green Market in Hot Springs Village. In addition, their high-quality meats are served at various restaurants and shops throughout our region. On the morning we visited JV Farms, we were joined by Rose Cranson, owner of the Superior Bathhouse Brewery, who was also getting to inspect the farm for the very first time with her General Manager, Jimm Powell. JV Farms and Superior Bathhouse Brewery work together to create a mutually beneficial relationship: all of the spent grains used for making beers at Superior are used to provide additional nourishment for the hogs at JV Farms. Superior then purchases these grain-fed pork products for their menu, providing a full-circle approach in the concept of “farm to table”. “I’m just glad to see that these grains aren’t getting dumped into some nearby landfill,” says Cranson, as she watches the pigs feed on the spent grain from beer that she had just brewed the day before.

As full-time farmers, Jay and Valorie live and breathe their work and it has paid off substantially as they gain recognition from both the community and local business owners looking to provide food that is sourced in the Ouachita region. Along with free-range chickens and eggs, Valorie also showed us the compost bed where she and Jay plan to grow vegetables to sell at market this season. The compost was acquired from Oaklawn Racetrack, where it is provided for free to any interested local area farmers. Farmers in the high country are not hard to find, it is finding one who isn’t always working that can be difficult. The pursuit of farm life is a sacrifice; it’s a commitment to a lot of work and, at times, little revenue. Inhabiting the fields, pastures, and rolling hills of the Ouachita High Country, the independent farmer follows a reliable schedule. They rise early to sell their wares at the farmers markets, and then they go home to regroup, plan for the next week, and resume work duties. Although there is not a great amount of fruit grown in the region, Scott and


Loretta Elmore thrive at the Ouachita Mountain Blueberry Nursery. Selling bare root blueberry plants between November and May, the Elmores are a state licensed nursery tucked away near Lake Ouachita and they even have a natural cold spring close by. It’s a great farm to visit when the blueberries are ripe for the picking in the summer months. They grow Rabbit Eye blueberries, Southern Highbush blueberries, and a variety of patio blueberry plants, like Pink Lemonade, Sunshine Blue, and Top Hat, that are propagated from their own cuttings. Their website is a wealth of resources to get tips on growing and caring for your own blueberry plants, as well as ordering their blueberry plants. Although blueberries don’t begin to ripen until around the middle of June, there’s nothing more fun then going out to a u-pick spot like the one at Ouachita Mountain Blueberry Farm. You can meet the farmers and see some of the gorgeous high country while you’re enjoying the delicious fruit of your labor. In addition to propagating and selling blueberries, the Elmores grow watermelon, okra, tomatoes, squash, peas, lettuce, swiss

chard, and cabbage. They have also started growing muscadines, a special type of grape that thrives here in the Ouachita region. Scott and Loretta have been an integral part of organizing and promoting both the Green Market at Grove Park in Hot Springs Village and the Historic Hot Springs Farmers Market. “We don’t resale, and we don’t allow other people to do so either. We work way too hard to do that,” says Loretta Elmore. One hundred percent of the items that you will find at the Green Market are grown in the Ouachita High Country, and seventy five percent of the items sold at the Historic Hot Springs Farmers Market are non-resale items. “We’re working hard to make that market only locally grown items, but it’s a constant battle,” says Loretta. The Lees and the Elmores strive to provide excellence through the sheer love and hard work that they put into humane and responsible agricultural processes and the Elmores pride themselves on refraining from the use of chemicals in their growing process. There are many more farmers in the Ouachita High Country that deserve

recognition. Their efforts, after all, not only help to bring visitors and guests to the natural state but they give an organic taste of what the rich landscape has to offer. Whether it’s goat milk soap or warm compost tea from Donna Milam in Sims, Arkansas, some hearty arugula from Crystal Farms, or the Rays, who have been growing and selling vegetables at market since it’s beginnings, many local families contribute to the growth of the High Country market. Another major component to the growth of local farms is local restaurants that embrace the farm to table movement from local farms like Natural Produce in Malvern. With just two acres and some green houses, they have built an amazing clientele of local businesses that trust and serve their micro-greens on salads, pizzas, and sandwiches throughout the high country landscape. Another great farm worth mentioning is the Evergreen Acres Mini-Farm, located on a scenic road between Hot Springs and Mount Ida. Tommy and Penny Walden call their 4-acre slice of heaven a “mini-farm,” where they make an art of doing a lot with a little space. Ou a c hit a H ighCo u nt ry.com

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THE FARM

“It started with a few chickens,” says Penny. Perhaps it was the secluded view of the terraced hillside and spring-fed pond ringed by trees that caused their free-range flock to flourish. Soon, Penny and Tommy were awash in fresh eggs, large oval jewels that yield vivid yolks and make fantastic omelets. On a whim, they took their bounty to Hot Springs Farmers Market. “We kept selling out by 8 a.m.,” recalls Tommy and thus, Evergreen Acres was hatched. The Waldens have added tiered gardens where heirloom lettuces flourish in colorful rows that overlook the nearby pond. A nearby plot holds almost 200 tomato plants, while a stand of blackberries border several beehives and a vegetable plot rounds out the quarter-acre of growing space with potatoes, zucchini and a variety of beans and peas. Another chemical free farm, the bees at Evergreen Acres don’t have to fly far in this pollination playground of squash blossoms and sunflowers. While digging and hauling dirt for the garden spaces, Tommy and Penny

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found some beautiful quartz crystal points – Mount Ida lucky charms. When the couple switched their diet exclusively to organic chicken and grass-fed beef (plus venison from a successful deer hunt), Tommy noticed an effect on his health. “I suffered for years from kidney stones,” he explains. “But after we changed our diet, they went away.” Adding greenhouse space allowed them to begin sprouting heirloom seeds, while the compost operation is tucked away out of sight and smell. With a steady uptick in production of a variety of fruits and vegetables, the Waldens’ motto is “We only sell what we grow.” Going one step further, the Waldens decided to get pygmy goats. “Once you have goats, you’ve got goats,” says Tommy Walden after admitting that they couldn’t get rid of them. The goat milk, sweet and high in butterfat, added another dimension to their farm. In addition to produce, eggs, and honey, visitors can now purchase creamy goat milk and honey soap made by the Waldens...with a little help from their bees. They also make

an exceptional artisanal goat cheese, although it is not for sale. The Waldens have contributed more than just produce and soaps in an effort to give back to the community. “We’re part of a community garden in Mount Ida called Tasty Acres. As a nonprofit, we work with 4-H to build no-till raised bed gardens for low-income families,” says Walden. Evergreen Acres soaps, honey, and other products can also be found at Hot Springs Farmers Market and the Old Country Store in downtown Hot Springs. Follow the Waldens’ miniadventures online at Facebook as Evergreen Acres, where cute photos of happy Nigerian Dwarf Goats update regularly. To order online, visit www. evergreenacresminifarm.com. For updates on these farmers and other pillars of the local Ouachita High Country community, like or follow the Historic Hot Springs Farmers Market, or the Green Market at Grove Park on Facebook. Or better yet get in the car and drive to see them one morning. Meet the people who grow your food and support locally sourced food grown in a humane way with love and compassion.


Ouachita Rod & Gun Club Memberships Now Available! Ou a c hit a H ighCo u nt ry.com

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F A L C ON R Y

Kings of the Mountains Two Falconers Help Indigenous Wildlife Soar Once Again

by Jeremy Mackey • photography by Jeremy Rodgers

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Her eyes pierce through the morning sunlight as she sits waiting. The air is still and quiet. Her head is moving from side to side as her attentive gaze turns toward the forest floor. Movement. An unsuspecting squirrel has just made a fatal error. As he forages for his morning meal, she quietly drops out of her high perch. Wings wide and eyes fixed, she dives. Her wings slice the air and her intentions are firm as her claws extend toward her quarry. In an instant it’s over. This story plays out every day in the Ouachita Mountains, but very few people have ever witnessed the power, grace, and precision of a hawk hunting and gathering a meal. Very few, except for a handful of Arkansas Falconers, are fortunate enough to work with these magnificent birds of prey on a daily basis. Falconry or ‘hawking’ is an ancient practice of utilizing birds of prey for hunting game. A sport normally reserved for royalty has become a hobby for many around the world, the country, and in Arkansas. For Tommy Young and Monroe Loy, however, this is no mere hobby. I was very fortunate to be able to accompany Tommy and Monroe on a recent squirrel hunt with a red-tail hawk and it was nothing like what I had expected. Like most people, I had the impression that the bird is ‘trained’

and that couldn’t be further from the truth. Falconers and their birds have a special relationship centered around food. If anything, it is the falconer who is trained. I had envisioned releasing the bird and watching as it soared through the air until it spotted a meal. In reality, we played ‘dog’ and our job was to try and flush out a squirrel or rabbit for the hawk. This is one of the ways trust is built between the hawk and the ‘hawker’. In the wild, birds of prey hunt when they’re hungry, naturally. The job of the falconer is to work with the bird long enough to figure out at what weight the bird wants to hunt and to use this information to his advantage. Too heavy, and the bird isn’t fast or nimble enough to catch its prey. Too light, and the bird is too weak. There is an optimal weight range in which all birds of prey hunt at their peak performance. When the bird figures out that his meals come, in part, from his handler is when, according to Monroe, “it’s on!” Monroe has been working with Tommy for going on six years and in all their time together Monroe claims that Tommy is still the most unique “animal” he’s ever worked with! I’ve known people who are ‘in tune’ with the world around them. People who can walk through the woods and pick out deer rubs and turkey tracks. As someone who is, more often than

not, content to blissfully wander through the woods without purpose, I look up to people who can identify random trees, bird calls, and wildlife scat. But in all my wanderings I’ve not met anyone more in tune with the world around them than Tommy and Monroe. I have to believe that it is because of their time spent with these magnificent birds. As with any adventure, our hunt didn’t begin as I had expected. With a wild look in their eyes, Tommy and Monroe informed me that we would be starting out with some ‘urban’ hunting. There is a particular irony in walking through a manicured suburban neighborhood while accompanied by 2 falconers and a red-tail hawk ready to hunt. I’ll be the first to tell you that I sincerely believe you can find nature anywhere, but even I wasn’t prepared for what happened when we released the hawk into the sky. As soon as she soared off Monroe’s leather glove, the bells around her talon rang out an eerie tune. Suddenly and without warning, the air was electric. Every small animal within a 15 yard radius was now on high alert. Squirrels began barking their warning calls and rabbits began darting across the blacktop in search of cover. The status quo of this sleepy suburban vacant lot had most assuredly been altered and I watched as falconer and hawk worked seamlessly together in search of their prey. Ou a c hit a H ighCo u nt ry.com

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F A L C ON R Y

Tommy is the founder, owner, and operator of the Arkansas Native Plant and Wildlife Center at the base of Rich Mountain near Mena, in the heart of the Ouachita High Country. The mission of the ANPWC is simple: wildlife education and the care and rehabilitation of injured or orphaned animals, ultimately resulting in their release into their natural habitat. Since the age of 14, Tommy has been rehabilitating these displaced animals and has devoted his life to his passion. Falconry plays a big role as it allows him and his volunteers to better understand the psychology of the birds and the actions of prey animals. This small 3 acre facility services a 400 mile radius and, to date, the ANPWC has successfully rehabilitated and released over 75,000 animals, including bears, bobcats, foxes, coyotes, hawks, and bald eagles. One of Monroe’s favorite stories is about an immature bald eagle with a broken wing. This bird was declared ‘unrepairable’ by the Raptor Center, but under the care of Tommy and the volunteers at the ANPWC, she was a successful release 6 months later. For the ANPWC this is business as usual, as release of rehabbed animals from the center is a common occurrence. Following your passion rarely comes without hardships. The Arkansas Native Plant and Wildlife Center stays afloat through donations of time and money. For over 29 years and through 7 locations, Tommy Young has been rehabilitating wounded and orphaned animals of all types. In honor of his dedication to the preservation of some of the High Country’s greatest resources, we, along with Ouachita Outdoor Outfitters are hosting a fundraiser. On May 9th, 2015: Tommy and Monroe, along with other local and state falconers, will present a program that will include birds of prey and other animals at The Grove Park in Hot Springs Village. The goal will be to raise funds for the ANPWC to help them continue their important work. For more details be sure to visit our website and Facebook page and make plans to attend and donate. Falconry Regulations may be viewed on the Arkansas Game and Fish website or at Arkansashawkingassociation.org

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OUTDOOR ADVENTURE ACTIVITIES INCLUDE: Kayaking Water Sports Rock Climbing Mountain Biking Paddle Boarding ATV/Off-Roading

VALLEYOFTHEVAPORS MUSICFESTIVAL ARKANSAS SPRING BREAK 5 DAYS OF UNDERGROUND MUSIC 36

www.valleyofthevapors.com

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Snorkeling Geocaching Mining Hiking

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Sweet Sounds in the Valley Where Music and Nature Meet Every Spring by Josh Williams

photography by Jim G. Miller & courtesy of the Valley of the Vapors Independent Music Festival

They say that music is the universal language, but for being universal, it sure has a lot of dialects. Whether it’s anything from Steampunk or Honky Tonk to Reggae or New Wave, people worldwide speak this language, and speak it well. There is a brief moment every year when, in the up-and-coming artist’s community of Hot Springs, these languages are spoken simultaneously, with quite a beautiful harmony.

Every spring there is an organization that hosts one of the fastest growing, yet still humble, underground music festivals in the country, and the only one in Arkansas. Living in the middle of the foothills of the Ouachita mountains, The Valley of the Vapors Independent Music Festival is assembled by Bill Solleder, the executive director and founder of Low Key Arts, a nonprofit organization that helps support local, national and even global artists of all forms.

I caught up with Bill Solleder and asked him what makes the Valley of the Vapors Independent Music Festival so special. He said, “The first 10 years of the VOV have seen musicians from Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, France, Italy, Iran, Sudan, South Africa, Brazil, Mexico, Canada, England, Ireland, Sweden, Czechoslovakia, and all across the United States. It feels like a family reunion with so many bands returning to Ou a c hit a H ighCo u nt ry.com

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VOV

Daniel Romano: Scheduled for 2015 VOV

Al Scorch: Scheduled for 2015 VOV

Hot Springs every year. The fact that bands want to return is a testament to the VOV’s hospitality and appreciation of the bands for the heartfelt art they create, and perform for us.” This year marks the 11th annual Valley of the Vapors event. It will be held from March 20th through the 24th, and the event grows stronger every year. One reason is because Solleder utilizes the natural surroundings of the area as performance venues when the urban reclaim building owned by Low Key Arts isn’t a suitable space for a particular artist. Being in the middle of “the natural state”, the festival has access to copious amounts of the stuff. Nature, I mean. Solleder, being the creative producer he is, coordinates with the Hot

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Christian Lee Hutson at a 2014 Trail Show & Scheduled at 2015 VOV

Springs Parks and Trails Department to stage smaller, more intimate, unplugged performances in outdoor venues--farmer’s markets, outdoor pavilions and urban style parks—these shows have obtained the moniker “trail shows”, and they are quite a success. They are actually free to the public and start at noon each day beginning on the 21st. Some of the artists scheduled to perform include JD Wilkes (Kentucky), Andrew Bryant (Mississippi), Al Scorch (Chicago, Illinois) and the band Hikes (Texas). Lawn chairs and blankets are encouraged. Again, its not just the fans that enjoy the festival every spring. The artists, who come from all over the planet, enjoy it too. Maybe more so. I recount some

of the sentiments shared by many of the musicians during past festivals. Most of them just wished for a longer stay. No matter which visitor I heard, they all said the same thing: It was “like no other place they had ever played.” To them, Hot Springs was very communal and culturally rich. Its citizens actually care about art and culture and individuality. Volunteers help greatly in coordinating the event. Kids and parents were in the crowds together. It was comfortable. It “felt like home”. Maybe a trip to the Spa City to perform in a music festival organized by an organization named Low Key Arts is just what these musicians needed. These bands from the Netherlands, Germany, Italy and South Korea need a respite


from the hustle and bustle of over population. They need a break from the same generic crowds that aren’t there for the music. They need a timeout from the heartless performances. In the “Valley of the Vapors”, these bands feel special. They feel important. They feel free to experiment with their art. They appreciate Hot Springs appreciating them….and they keep coming back for more. Hot Springs has always been a very culturally diverse town. From Mae West and Al Capone to Mario Lopez and The San Diego Chicken, this town has seen its share of personalities. As a tourist Mecca, many an individual has left their footprint, and made Hot Springs the melting pot it is today. It therefore stands to reason that Hot Springs is an ideal setting for the Valley of the Vapors music festival. Where else can you find an independent, culturally diverse, naturally exquisite town playing host to artists cut from the same cloth? Very few places. The “VOV”, as the locals refer to it, isn’t the only time that artists, from all walks of life, are on display in Hot Springs. The live music, for one, is a nightly thing. Plays are presented at historic theaters, painters display their work all over town, authors hold Q and A’s about their latest novel in coffee shops, poetry readings are a regular feature at local venues, and dancers showcase their talents often. Remarkably, all of this takes place against one of the most beautiful backdrops in the whole world. Hot Springs breeds art and the VOV is no exception. The Valley of the Vapors Independent Music Festival has created quite a niche for itself in the Spa City. The festival used its own community’s exuberance to manifest itself. That’s why it’s so unique and that’s why it is revered by all who take part in it. Talk about a smart business plan. It must be something in the water. To learn more about the Valley of the Vapors Independent Music Festival, visit www.valleyofthevapors.com, www. lowkeyarts.org, or to buy tickets go to www.prekindle.com Ou a c hit a H ighCo u nt ry.com

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2/9/15 1:49 PM


Food for Thought Intellectual Nourishment in the Heart of High Country

by Josh Williams photography by Jeremy Rodgers recipes by Chefs T. Porter Montgomery and Trey Bunk of the Exchange Culinary Group

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Nestled in the foothills of the Ouachita Mountains, specifically the Zig Zag range, lies a true culinary diamond in the rough. I’m not referring to one of those gems you might be lucky enough to happen upon in Murfreesboro, but an edible and enjoyable one all the same. Surfas Culinary District located at 510 Ouachita Avenue, very close to the heart of downtown Hot Springs, this “Chef’s Paradise,” as it is lovingly referred to now, is considered to be the source for the finest imported and domestic food products, ingredients and culinary items. Surfas is “Paradise Found” for not only chefs, but for anyone and everyone who appreciates great food. Beginning in an abandoned garage in Los Angeles in 1937, Surfas flourished by supplying restaurant equipment to businesses. In 1947, Les Surfas, with a Master’s Degree in business, brought fresh ideas and new techniques to this budding company and propelled this modest endeavor into superstar status. As they have grown they have added gourmet cheeses, meats, wines and specialty food stuffs to their already vast selection of commercial grade culinary equipment. Some examples found in the Hot Springs store include dough dockers, 100 quart stock pots, fish scalers, ravioli pans, meat grinders, sweet potato noodles, Sriracha popcorn, and even bacon spread. Not to mention all the regionally sourced items available and made right here in the Ouachitas.

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Surfas Culinary District opened its doors to the public in the mid-­ 1990’s, due to an overwhelming customer demand for their top-­of-­the-­line products. This gave shoppers access to its inventory of 18,000 (and growing daily) items. “I was born in Little Rock... I have never completely left because the beauty of Arkansas and the warmth of the people are deeply important and enjoyable parts of my life.” explains Diana Surfas, who, with her husband, splits her time now between the Ouachitas and the East Coast. “It was just a good business plan to create our web distribution facility and small storefront in the center of the country to better serve our widespread customer base. We never had second thoughts where to put our business when the beautiful historic Hamp Williams Building became available to us. What could be better than working in a richly and authentically restored 1920s building that faces one of the South’s most gracious Courthouses and backs against Hot Springs National Park West Mountain?” At Surfas, business is booming, and the newest edition to Hot Springs is their test kitchen, located right in the front of their large showroom. This provides a venue for chefs to test new menu items, teach classes, and hold cooking demonstrations… which brings me to the unique and exciting experience now available thanks to two wildly talented Chefs and thier desire to teach others.

Poached Beet, Pear and Gorgonzola Salad Ingredients

4 beets 1 pear 4 tablespoons gorgonzola 1 tablespoon chives 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar 2 teaspoons fresh thyme 2 teaspoons mayo salt & pepper to taste In a stock pot, place beets and about 3 tablespoons of salt and enough water to cover the beets by about 2 inches. Cover, bring to a boil and cook for 20-30 minutes, or until the beets are easily pierced with a fork or knife. Remove the beets from the water and as soon as they have cooled enough to handle, using either a lint-free cloth or paper towel, rub the skin off of the beets, then slice into ¼ inch cubes. Place the cubed beets in a mixing bowl and add your red wine vinegar, thyme, mayo, chives, salt, black pepper and stir to combine. Plate your beets and top with thinly sliced pear and Gorgonzola.


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R E C I P ES

On a brisk Saturday morning, I walk into Surfas Culinary District and I am immediately greeted by some familiar, smiling faces and warm hellos. Derick Owens, the manager of the operation, serves me a nice, fresh cup of coffee. He gives me some half and half, and tells me there are stirrers and sugar cubes (in the raw) over to my right. I’m here because of the aforementioned Chefs and thier recently developed monthly cooking class, and my personal Saturday morning coffee at 1:00 pm got things off to a good start. I look left and move toward a makeshift, albeit, professional kitchen, I see a nice set up of radiant stainless steel tables, pots, pans, colorful cutting boards, portable stoves and knives. A whole lot of knives. Damascus steel knives, you know, the type of steel used in middle-­eastern sword making. Legend has it they can cut through rifle barrels… I’m not sure about that, but the employed Chefs leading their first cooking class at Surfas Culinary District, and founding members of a local catering company named Exchange Culinary Group, Tyree Porter Montgomery and Trey Brunk started the lesson by cutting through an array of pears, beets, shallots, mushrooms, red onions and bell peppers with the precision of samurais.

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I’ve never seen a more beautiful pile of de-­cobbed corn in my life. Chef Porter told the class to “Use the entire length of the blade. It increases the knife’s life span and effectiveness.” Pfft. Those fruits and veggies didn’t have a chance. Quite a few students and on-­lookers were in attendance on this unseasonably pleasant late-winter day. We were anxiously awaiting more of the expertise that Ty and Trey had to offer. They had good chemistry; Chef Montgomery’s calm, eloquent demeanor, coupled with Trey’s Texas roots, tattoos and up-­tempo style worked liked gang-­busters. Their banter was reminiscent of Laurel and Hardy. Together, they were a well-­oiled machine, circling around each other like a choreographed cyclone, scooping up ingredients and spitting out dishes with a unique blend of care and tenacity. The close friendship and trust these gentlemen shared was evident. The years of experience, and the joy these guys had for food could not be questioned. And everyone was having a good time….and learning. The class, obviously, was quite enjoyable and informative. Now, I’m nowhere near the level of Chefs Brunk and Montgomery, but I know my way around a kitchen and I still learned a few things . After a five-­minute lesson on the subtleties and

Seared Steak Demi, Herb fried potatoes & Fresh Corn Salsa Fresh Corn Salsa Ingredients

6 heads of sweet corn kernetl 1 medium red onion 1 red bell pepper 1 jalapeno 1 bunch cilantro 2 tablespoons cumin 1/4 cup rice vinegar Start by shucking, cleaning and trimming off the kernels from your corn cobs. Place the raw kernels in a large mixing bowl, along with minced red onion, bell pepper and jalapeño. Rinse, de-stem and chop your cilantro, and add that to the bowl with your cumin and rice wine vinegar. Toss well, cover and refrigerate. Let sit at least 30 minutes before serving, for best flavor.


Herb Fried Potatoes

Seared Steak Demi

Ingredients

Ingredients

4-5 baby Yukon potatoes 1 tablespoon dried thyme 1 tablespoon dried sage 1/2 cup garlic oil 1 tablespoon sea salt 2 teaspoons ground black pepper Using a mandolin slicer, slice your potatoes thin enough that they are just “slightly” floppy when you pick them up by the ends and give them a little shake. Place your potatoes in a mixing bowl and toss with your herbs and the garlic oil you reserved from roasting the garlic for the Steak Demi. (If you don’t have garlic oil, you can substitute 1-2 tablespoons of granulated garlic). Now spread the potatoes out in thin layers on a baking sheet and place in a 450 degree oven. Check after about 10 minutes and flip potatoes as needed. Bake another 5-10 minutes until desired crispness is achieved.

4oz. beef base 1 shallot 4 tablespoons rosemary 1 lb. crimini mushrooms 8 cloves fresh garlic 1 1/2 cups red wine 3 cups water 2 tablespoons corn starch 1 cup oil 4 filets Steak In a small sauce pan, add 1 cup of oil and 8 cloves of garlic and set to medium low heat. Watch the pan and wait for the garlic to start “simmering” slightly, and once that happens, use a fork to flip the garlic and cook it on the other side for about 1 minute, and continue this with each garlic clove until evenly roasted and medium brown color all the way around. Once done, turn off heat and set garlic aside. In a large sauce pan over medium heat, cook shallots and rosemary in 3-4

tablespoons of oil for about 3 minutes, add mushrooms and cook for another 3 minutes. Add your roasted garlic, half of the red wine, and reduce down by about 50%. Mix your beef base with 3 cups of hot water, whisk thoroughly, then add it into the red winemushroom mixture and bring to a boil. Now add your cornstarch to the remaining red wine and whisk, creating a slurry, add that to your mushroom mixture, bring down the heat to medium, and let thicken. Heat a large skillet on high, add a couple tablespoons of oil, and once searing hot, place the steaks in the pan, quickly searing each side. Once the steaks have been flipped, pour your mushroom mixture into the skillet, only enough to come halfway up the steaks. Finish simmering the steak in the red wine-mushroom mixture until desired temperature is reached. (Approximately 1-4 minutes, be careful because the steak will finish cooking very fast in the liquid). Remove steaks from the skillet, and plate on top of a stack of the potatoes, then Demiglaze and Fresh Corn Salsa.

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R E C I P ES

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Irish Crème Brûlée Ingredients

8 egg yolks 1 whole egg 1 quart heavy cream 1 1/4 cup sugar 4 oz. Irish cream 1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla bean paste Heat the cream, sugar and flavoring in a double boiler to between 130-140 degrees F, take the cream off of the heat, and in a slow, steady stream, about the thickness of a pen, add the hot cream mixture to a bowl while whipping your eggs vigorously; the point is to slowly incorporate the hot cream to temper the eggs so you don’t scramble them. Pour into brûlée ramekins about ¾ full. Set your ramekins in a 4-inch deep metal baking pan. Add hot water to the pan until it reaches about halfway up the ramekins. Now that you have your ramekins sitting in a hot water bath (also known as a Bain Marie in French), you want to cover the whole thing with tin foil. Punch holes in the top (about 15-20 holes), this will keep the heat in, properly cooking the Crème Brûlée while letting water vapor out so it doesn’t condense on the foil and drip back into the ramekins. You’ll want to bake your Crème Brûlée at 290 degrees F, but the length of time you cook will vary greatly depending on the type of dairy you use. This recipe calls for heavy cream. (Go one step up and use manufacturers cream if you can find it. With its 40% milk fat content, you won’t be sorry). These Crème Brulees should only take 40-50 minutes to cook. If you use a lower milk fat content such as half and half, (11-18% milk fat) or whole milk (3.5% milk fat) the time the Crème Brulees will take to finish cooking will trifle.

intricacies of salt, Chef Porter asked,“Did you know that the direction in which you cut your onion determines its potency? If you cut north to south, with the root of the onion as your guide, the onion will be more mellow. If you cut east to west, you’ll get a stronger version, more flavor, more bang for your buck, so to speak.” He added about bell peppers, “After you remove the cap from the pepper and de-­ seed, make one cut from top to bottom, and roll the pepper out flat. Always cut from the inside of the pepper. Rest the side of the knife against your knuckles, and point the blade away from your fingers, about 30 degrees, and use a nice, fluid movement. Just rock through. That’s called the knuckle roll technique.” He then summed up the section with, “Quit trying to be Iron Chef, banging and chopping everywhere, making a bunch of noise. That’s not professional.” I learned more than just how to properly cut a pepper. I learned that a poached beet, pear and Gorgonzola salad is delicious. I learned how to properly harvest cilantro with only a fork. I learned that you have to add your hot cream mixture very slowly to the bowl while whipping your eggs or you’ll end up with scrambled brûlée instead of crème brûlée. I learned that cooking is not just an art, but a science too. Chef Porter declared, “Cooking is an applied science. Science on the whole is starting to enter the kitchen. It’s a great time to be

cooking. The more you understand what’s going on with your food at the molecular level, the more consistent your food will taste.” It’s amazing how great your food can taste when you have someone who cares this much prepare it for you. Its no wonder this guy has cooked for Arnold Schwarzenegger, Steve Martin and the late Robin Williams. I think it’s safe to say that these two Chefs love culinary arts (and the mission that Surfas’ was originally designed to cater to) and now are more than excited to share their skills with those that want to expand their culinary reach. Today’s class was the first of many, and I will eagerly support this business. It’s just another platform for the uber-­ talented people of our fine community to utilize. We are lucky to have a business like Surfas Culinary District right in the heart of the Region. Where else can you get a great meal with your friends, learn from professional Chefs on how to become better in the kitchen, and get the necessary supplies to do it? Nowhere that I know of. This place found its way to my heart pretty quickly, I know it will do the same for you. To learn more about Surfas products, go to surfasonline.com. To follow the Exchange Culinary Group’s food blog for additional tips and recipes, visit exchangeculinarygroup.com. Ou a c hit a H ighCo u nt ry.com

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GLANCE BACK

Vintage Venues

It’s no secret to history buffs that Hot Springs was once a major destination for performers, writers, athletes, gangsters and other celebrities. What was it about Spa Town that sparked the imagination and interest of these people? Was it the draw of athletes that came here for spring training? Was it the natural thermal spring water? Could have been the horse racing at Oaklawn Park, or was it the more lucrative gambling and imbibing that was happening beneath the noses of federal agents in downtown and throughout the county during prohibition? A combination of all those is most likely what brought the people here in droves and it was their impact on the history and the culture of Hot Springs that has left a lasting impression on present day visitors, historians and creatives who are still sparked by the rich nightlife and electricity of

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The Old Haunts & Happenings of America’s First Resort Town by Jim G. Miller photos courtesy of Garland County Historical Society

Hot Springs, Arkansas. In this glance back, we’re going to look at the nightclubs of Hot Springs. Thanks to the resources available at the Garland County Historical Society, we were able to utilize the previous research done by historian Wayne Threadgill, a noted expert on nightclubs of Hot Springs. He has contributed volumes of valuable research on the subject matter. While Hot Springs is a hopping town now, it’s almost difficult to imagine it back in its heyday when illegal liquor, gambling, and entertainment were at its peak. That is when there were more than one hundred nightclubs in Hot Springs located all throughout the city, not just in downtown. Let’s take a look at a handful of the major ones. Beginning with The Belvedere, this hot spot was located a few miles north of

Hot Springs near what is now Fountain Lake. Not just a golf course, it was also a hub of illegal gambling, alcohol, and entertainment for the more wealthy individuals who called Hot Springs home. Built in 1929, during prohibition, it was said that thousands of gallons of illegal liquor passed through the grounds on its way to larger cities up north. Remodeled in 1935, it became the largest club of its kind in Garland County with a large gambling room and restaurant. Touting Owney Madden as partial owner, The Belvedere was long considered the show place of Hot Springs. With a capacity of around two thousand people, it was filled to capacity nearly every weekend. According to Threadgill, gambling became a major component to life in the Spa City with the opening of the Southern Club in 1890. Currently the home of the Wax


Museum, the Southern Club was built with gambling in mind. Its art deco entrance made it among the most stylish clubs in Arkansas and its central location was right in the heart of downtown Hot Springs. City founders allowed the illegal gambling to continue because, according to Threadgill, they felt that it complimented the bathhouses and the horse racing. Of course, it also generated a profound amount of revenue that allowed Hot Springs to bloom into a prosperous city that was a magnet for celebrities and other noteworthy individuals. The most upscale club of its kind in Hot Springs, it was advertised in National magazines, and, like The Belvedere, was partially owned by gangster turned Hot Springs resident Owney Madden. Threadgill alludes to numerous accounts of the FBI attempting to wire the phone lines of the Southern because of its location and the seedy individuals who often spent time there. Eventually a rift would develop between the multiple owners of the Southern Club. Jimmy Phillips, a 20 year employee of The Southern Club, would be bought out and would later go on to establish the Vapors Club, formerly known as the Phillips Drive-In. During periods when gambling had to be shut down or appear inconspicuous, the clubs would use bingo cards to entice customers. Eventually the Southern Club’s original owners would sell their share to George and Jack Pakis, who ran the Southern Club until gambling was officially shut down in 1966. The club closed its doors for the last time in 1971 when the building was sold. At its peak, the Southern Club had one hundred and ten employees, forty-four slot machines, three dice tables, two roulette wheels, four blackjack tables, and an entire room devoted to bingo that would fit more than one hundred people. Another club worth mentioning is the Ohio Club, whose location still exists today as a nightlife venue. The oldest bar in Arkansas, it was a two story establishment with a café and saloon downstairs and a gaming parlor upstairs. For a time, according to Threadgill, it was known as the Ohio Cigar Store, but gambling was

always a mainstay in the upstairs portion of the club. Madden would also have part ownership of the Ohio, as he did with most of the nightclubs and casinos that were seemingly worth the investment. These clubs would also be incorporated as part of his race wire. The Ohio Club, however, was the one most often subjected to both federal and state raids, perhaps due to its popular reputation. Among all of the clubs mentioned, this is the only one still in existence at its original location. With the Belvedere currently abandoned, the Southern Club now home to the Wax Museum, and the Vapors for sale, the Ohio Club’s history and atmosphere are rich and definitely worth experiencing. The Showmen’s Association on Whittington Avenue is another club that is also still in existence. Not quite as old as the Ohio, it has been open since the early 40s and has just recently been opened to the general public. In addition to hosting gambling and serving libations, nearly all of the major nightclubs of Hot Springs showcased major performers- celebrities like Mae West, Tony Bennett, Liberace, Mickey Rooney, and many others would frequent the nightclub circuit of Hot Springs. The Vapors was perhaps the premier nightclub for celebrity acts in Hot Springs. According to Threadgill, the Vapors Theater-Supper Club was one of the most renowned clubs in the Southern United States and it rivaled in popularity

to the contemporary Las Vegas clubs. Its casino and inner décor was quite well done compared to the other clubs of Hot Springs and thankfully much of the interior has remained intact even today as it sits on the market. In 1963 a bomb exploded, supposedly while a gambling “school” was in progress. Though several people were injured, no one was killed. The club re-opened as soon as the repairs were completed and the staff and entertainers, who had been working and performing at the Belvedere in the interim, returned. The color that these historic nightclubs added to the landscape of Hot Springs still lingers in many of the historic buildings and the streets of Central Avenue represent a forgotten era of Hot Springs when it rivaled the jungle now known as Las Vegas. Oaklawn Racing and Gaming is perhaps the only flicker of that flame resembling the art known as gambling that still exists in Arkansas today. Do you like our Glance Back articles? Do you have suggestions for future Glance Back Features? Give us a call or email us with your ideas! We would also like to give a special thanks to Executive Director Liz Robbins at the Garland County Historical Society for her help in gathering research and images for this article. Visit them at their location at 328 Quapaw Ave. Hot Springs AR 71901 Monday through Friday between 8 am and noon or call them at (501) 3212159. You may also visit their website at http:// www.garlandcountyhistoricalsociety.com/

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I N Y O U R W O R DS

Twilight: A Study by Kai Coggin, Hot Springs, Ark.

The sky is over my shoulder, I can hear her breathing on my neck, whispering something about change,  something about morning that tastes like beginning. I have been a friend to the morning, welcomed the angles of light pouring down on all that stands to face the day, every tree that continues this perpetual reaching and growing, and spreading, and falling.   There is a ritual that comes with morning and trees,  how each leaf has its turn to shine,  to become gold-leaf exaltation triumphant fire, even for just a second,  then another day full of green, as the scurry of birds feeding and creatures foraging creates a hum of movement, a musical chorus of life that welcomes the day. Morning. Do these creatures wake up from nights of dreaming? Do birds dream of walking as much as I dream of flight? Each song is different,  but I know they all sing about the same thing,  this song of being alive,  this tune that gets stuck in my throat sometimes,  hides under my tongue in momentary forgetting,  that I should be singing, should be greeting the morning with a song of thanks, and today I hear it,  rising with the gentle sun, making its way across the stretched out limbs and branches,  lighting every thirsty blade and calm stone.  Morning is an in-between time,  a time that bleeds from darkness into day, a merging of two worlds,  a cycle that never stops, reliant sun, constant traveler. Twilight is another in-between time,  a time that bleeds day into night, a moment that I took for granted until I sat on the deck  and watched as the skyline of trees began to change,  as the sky’s color began to fade, the sun on the precipice of falling behind the horizon once again.

This was not an exceptional twilight, just magical in its regularness,  just everything beautiful in its casual changing,  the merging of worlds,  the sky blue subtly losing its colors to time,  the trees changing to only silhouettes against a backdrop of fading day,  they become forms in only negative space,  the light behind them giving them definition in opposites,  every leaf, limb, branch, moving swaying wing of green  painted in the blackness of silhouette and shadow. I had not given much thought to the in-between of twilight, to the gradual fading that we often miss  when the world is almost dark.  There is magic there,  there is a play of light  that pulls out a sense of magic and discovery, the fireflies of summer dance their light stories  during the mystery of twilight,  harbingers of fantasy that paint the night with their bodies. Hold my body  against the fading blue sky day, watch as my limbs and curves become  a blackness that is still me,  the negative space of my being against the light,  the silhouette that my shape makes against the coming of night. Read more of Kai Coggin’s work in her new book Periscope Heart or visit www.kaicoggin.com

Spring is upon us, and like the beautiful foliage that reemerges this time of year, our creative minds blossom with new ideas and hopes for the coming months. In every issue we expose the natural beauty and wonder of the Ouachita high country, and what better place to explore than the inner landscapes of its own inhabitants? Do you have a short story or poem you’d like to share? Please submit them for consideration in our next issue.

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O u ac h i t a Hi gh C ount r y

Send your writing submissions to: Render Creative Group attn: Ouachita High Country 801 Central Avenue, Suite 30 Hot Springs, AR 71901 or email info@rendercreativegroup.com


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Ouachita High Country - Spring 2015  
Ouachita High Country - Spring 2015  
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