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Grandparents Day: 3 Events for Kids and their Grandparents

Oh, how we love their hugs, cookies and big smiles -- grandparents are the best! Jimmy Carter agreed and signed a proclamation in 1978 declaring the first Sunday after Labor Day as Grandparents Day. Here are a few of the events in central Arkansas celebrating these special family members.

Grandparent's Day Storytime at Barnes & Noble in North Little Rock: Book readings and activities honoring grandparents are part of the fun! 11 a.m. Sept. 6. For info: (501) 771-1124, BN.com. FREE!

Grandparent's Day Storytime at Barnes & Noble in West Little Rock: Storytime and activities for grandparents and kids features "How to Babysit a Grandma" and "How to Babysit a Grandpa." 11 a.m. Sept. 6. For info: (501) 954-7646, BN.com. FREE!

Grandparents in the Garden at Hot Springs Community Gardens: Hot Springs' Community Garden Network hosts a picnic with food trucks at the Garden site, plus tours of the garden every half-hour. Noon-3:30 p.m. Sept. 7. For info: (501) 623-6400, HotSprings.org. FREE!

For more weekend events, browse our full online calendar here.

Enter Your Baby in Little Rock Family's Photo Contest

We know you have a favorite photo (or 100) of your little bundle of joy! Little Rock Family wants to see your baby's cutest moments, whether it's an angelic newborn shot, baby bath time or another photo opp for our Cutest Baby Photo Contest!

Photo submissions for the contest will be accepted through Sept. 9, 2014. Little Rock Family Staff members will then choose our favorites, and post the finalists on Sept. 11.

The winners will then be determined through a vote, open to the public! Voting will take place from Sept. 11-18 here on LittleRockFamily.com.

The winning photos will then be featured online and in the Little Rock Family magazine November 2014 edition.

Click here to get started and submit your baby's cutest photo!

Q&A With the Cast of "Memphis the Musical"

Image by John David Pittman

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With the Tony Award-winning show “Memphis the Musical” opening at The Rep this week (Sept. 5), we knew we wanted to sit down with some of its stars to get the scoop on this infectiously fun and powerful show about love and music in the Civil Rights Era.

What we didn’t quite expect was the thought-provoking, compelling exchange that unfolded, reverberating with laughter, excitement and a thick passion for “Memphis” that left us scrambling to get tickets.

The show opens at 8 p.m. on Sept. 5. For more information and tickets, click here. In the meantime, grab a cup of coffee and enjoy our conversation with Lynn Kurdziel-Formato, Brent DiRoma, Jasmin Richardson and Ann-Ngaire Martin of “Memphis the Musical.”

Tell us a little bit about your role in Memphis.

Jasmin: I play Felicia, the love interest for Huey. The way I describe Felicia is she's a big dreamer. She has this hope and aspiration of becoming this recording artist and Huey opens the door for that opportunity to be realized. The thing that draws me personally to Felicia is that she's such a strong woman. Very vocal, independent, driven and I relate to that.

Brent: Huey is me if I would've left hight school my freshman year. I wouldn't go so far as to say he’s dimwitted, but he’s dimwitted. He’s also a dreamer, so much so that it gets in the way of his periphery sometimes when it comes the knowledge of the two cultures. 

The black and white cultures in the ‘50s were not separate to him. He was very much touched by the music that the black couture produced in the 1950s. He felt it in his bones and his mind and soul and heart.

Huey is close to my heart because he sacrificed everything to do exactly what he loves, and gave himself to love and what he loves, to the idea of using music to unite what was then separate. I love that man.

Ann: I play Gladys, Huey’s mother. Gladys is really the white woman’s journey in that time period in Memphis: a bigot who learns through her son and the love of her son that music transcends everything. She has a big heart and you might not agree or like her in the beginning, but she does take the journey and come out the other side a better person, and I think that’s what speaks to me the most in this show.

Lynn: I’m the director and choreographer for the production. I’ve wanted to work on this show in come capacity since I heard the first downbeat on Broadway. The music is phenomenal. It is based in rhythm and blues, early rock and roll, gospel. If you did nothing but listen to the music, especially being sung live by this incredible cast, it’d be worth the price of admission alone, but it’s also a really great script with a lot of terrific dancing. 

It’s a really remarkable cast. I was very, very, very lucky. They’re true triple threats: the actor who sings and dances. We have these magical productions that happen every now and then in this business, and for me, this is one of them. The show has a message, and I think the message imbues the people who are involved in the show with a different take on how to go about the work.

B: From the first day, with a few quotes from Langston Hughes, it very much humbled us all into realizing that this is more than a thing, it is a piece of art that, when we get here, lies on a piece of paper. Literally, just a book. It blossoms onto a stage with help from every corner of the room, especially at The Rep, which is such an awesome theater to work at and casts such awesome people and has such awesome directors on board. It’s a recipe for greatness, and it’s cool to be a part of that with these people. 

L: Live theatre is great because the audience does connect with the performer in a very different manner than you do when you are watching a movie or television. There is this sort of electricity that goes from performer to audience and audience to performer that, especially with a show like this, it’s like nothing you feel anywhere else. And with the size of The Rep’s house, it’s wonderful because it is a very intimate theatre, even though it seats a number of people.

A: And this music… I defy people to not get up and dance. I have to glue myself to my seat at rehearsal sometimes. You just want to move. It shakes the house. It’s awesome.

Obviously this music phenomenal, so what is it like working on a show where it’s such an intrinsic part of it?

A: It moves you. It really moves you in ways you can’t explain.

B: It’s a very tangible experience. It’s in your face, but just enough to make you go “come here.” It’s the kind of music that seduces you.

L: The blues came about for a reason. It was either to release sometimes mournful, horrific experiences or at a funeral to celebrate a life, but it also was to help elevate you above that which if you did not elevate yourself, you maybe could not find a way to live through it.  It was born for that purpose. It came from a people that needed that because they had nothing else. 

 

J: There’s a song that I sing called “Colored Woman.” It’s very relevant for me even today. This job is hard sometimes, but when you get a show like this, you're just clinging to every creative fiber of the show because it allows you to express yourself. 

Whenever I’m aching or in pain, sometimes it’s hard for me to verbalize, so I sing through it. The show is driven by the music. You sing through the pain. That’s how musical theatre is. There are no words, so therefore, there’s a song.

L: But it’s not just a show full of pain. There’s a lot of relatable humor in the show, there’s a lot of beautifully driven dramatic scenes between people that have a lot of fire to them. It’s a really well-balanced show and a really amazing representation of both populations in the segregated South.

It’s that kind of show where we’re laughing and crying, that there’s also a for-real history lesson that is actually very salient because of what’s happening in today’s world, Ferguson being the first thing I can think of. 

There’s a lot of heavy stuff happening in this show. How have you personally connected to that?

B: My generation is a very self-promoted generation. We use everything to put eyes on us. Whether it’s Instagram or the music we listen to, we use it as a form of “here I am” as opposed to “here-we-are.” The music in this time was very much communal and we forget that. 

That really strikes home for me. I grew up in the music world, I learned to sing from Otis Redding and I play guitar because B.B. King taught me how. My mom was a kind of person that I never understood why there was any sort of question as to how someone was not equal to me or anyone else.

It’s still prevalent. We’re still experiencing some really serious downright racism all the time, and it’s across the board. We thought we had control over it, and it still finds its way to sort of burst out, always in these incredibly violent outbursts, and we then realize, oh, we’re not done with this yet. This is still something we’re working on, and we’re still a really young county. We’re just now hitting puberty.

J: Huey has a line about people marrying who they want to marry, and it’s very specific if you look at the words they chose. It wasn’t a man and a woman, it wasn’t a white man and a black woman, it was people. Two adults. The show is so relevant and so poignant that you just can’t avoid a look in the mirror, to look at what’s around you

L: It’s a great show. I think it’s one maybe a lot of people haven’t seen. It’s a regional premiere and it’s very exciting. When they release the rights to regional theaters, they don’t just release them to anybody. They choose certain theaters to start with. One of the Broadway producers is onboard and supporting the production. He’s sat in on full evenings of rehearsal.

A: I can see him in rehearsal sitting there reciting with us. He knows every line. 

L: He’s been very generous about it because we are not doing a replica production. He loves what we we’re doing and said this was going to be so special and close to his heart. People really should come see it.

A: And it’s the blues! Come on!

B: If nothing else, blues is just a badass way to sing about hurt. I’ve never heard someone sing the blues and thought, oh, what a pansy. I listen to someone singing the blues and go, oh, you better tell me more about how that sucked.

A: It’s American. It’s a true American art form. It came from the African American slavery-gospel realm and all those rhythms and things and it came and burst into the blues. And Beale Street is fascinating.just 

L: For many of the aspects of the scenic design, we looked at actual architecture in Memphis and on Beale Street. We took elements from different things and they're in the set.

B: The set is awesome. Its’s like a jungle gym for actors. It’s a playground.

A: And the costumes are pretty stunning.

Let’s talk about that a bit. Let’s get out of the heavy stuff for a second and take a breath with the visuals.

A: Eye candy! The costumes, that always infuses me as an actor. It completes the character for you in many ways. Like gloves! Women wore gloves to go outside, a hat to go outside. It’s different. Makes you feel different.

J: Felicia’s color palette starts off kind of dark, bronze, grounded, underground. As she grows, especially in Act Two, you get these vibrant pinks and reds. I feel like it’s kind of her opening up musically, in her life and exploring this relationship. It’s a little bit more structured in the beginning, and as it goes, I don’t know, I just feel beautiful and like a lady. It definitely enhances the way I carry myself on stage, the way I hold myself. It just makes you feel like you're embodying that character that you’ve developed. 

L: And with [Co-Costume Designer Rafael Colon Castanera] l at the helm of the design team and wardrobe and makeup, they don’t ever just go half way. Each outfit has different shoes. There’s not a lot of regional theaters that do that, that actually color them and match their outfits as opposed to just throwing a pair of tan LaDuca dance shoes on somebody. 

The wigs are all ventilated, lace front wigs, which have to be done by hand with each individual strand of hair tied in. Many, many theatre companies do not spend the time, the money, the energy to do that. They are phenomenal.

J: You’ll leave the theatre uplifted. That’s what’s so great about it. It has very important, relevant themes, but it’s not to break you, it’s just to make you think.

L: The show throughout is uplifting and inspirational, even when there’s conflict. No one is going to find a dull moment.

Jazz in the Park Returns This Week

Image by Shutterstock

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Time to slip on your coolest shades and practice on your snapping. Jazz in the Park is back for its second half of the season, taking over the Riverfront Park downtown.

This family-friendly event is a local favorite, especially in the perfect transitional weather Little Rock enjoys. 

Jazz in the Park is completely free, but no coolers are allowed. Some seating is available in the History Pavilion amphitheater, but this is a perfect excuse to lounge on blankets and in lawn chairs and just go with the flow.

At the park, you can purchase water, soft drinks, beer and wine with a portion of the proceeds benefitting Sculpture at the River Market.

 

Here’s a look at the Jazz in the Park fall 2014 lineup:

9/3 - Rodney Block & The Real Music Lovers

9/10 - Julia Buckingham Group

9/17 - The Tri Tones

9/24 - The Brandon Dorris Quintet

 

Get additional information about this event here or call (501) 375-2552.

Shows start at 6 p.m. Be there or be square, cool cat.

Sarah Eaton DeClerk to Host Cookie Decorating Class at Eggshells September 8

Customizable Arkansas Cookies — Ann Potter Baking, Little Rock

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It’s cookie time, y’all.

Everyone’s favorite kitchen gadget store Eggshells Kitchen Co. will host Sarah Eaton DeClerk of Ann Potter Baking as she takes over the store's kitchen to share her superior knowledge of cookie decorating.

Stop by Eggshells on Sept. 8 at 6 p.m. and you’ll be welcomed with a complimentary glass of wine or beer, and leave having knelt at the feet of a nationally recognized cookie goddess. Attendees are also more than welcome to b-y-o-beverage for the meal.

Reservations are required and seats go fast, people. Tickets are $50 a person.

Contact Eggshells Kitchen Co. today and reserve your spot here or by calling (501) 664-6900.

Taste of Tuesday: Farm-to-Market-to-Table Zucchini Parmesan Crisps

Image by Kevin Shalin

I’m a firm believer that my weekend just isn’t complete without a visit to one of the many farmers markets here in Little Rock.  Often times, coming across all these fresh, locally-grown ingredients is all the inspiration I need to create a satisfying dish once I get home.

A recent visit to the Hillcrest Farmers Market (Saturdays from 7 a.m.-noon) yielded me a small basket of zucchini from Scott Melons & Produce and a jar of Bonta Toscana. The latter is a deliciously authentic garlic sauce made right here in Little Rock by Amy Bradley-Hole. It’s a product I’m not only familiar with, as I’ve cooked with it no less than 20 times this past year, but also one I know pairs well with zucchini.

I found this this wonderful Zucchini Parmesan Crisps recipe and opted to utilize the Bonta Toscana as a dipping sauce for the finished pieces of baked zucchini.

The recipe proved to be super easy, fairly healthy and most importantly, it tasted absolutely fantastic! The finished zucchini had a crispy crust, while still maintaining a soft interior. This was due in large part to the bread crumbs/Parmesan mixture coupled with the high heat baking process (450 degrees for 30 minutes). The garlic sauce, with its mild spiciness and intense garlic flavor, proved to be the perfect complement to the zucchini.

With school starting back up, know that these zucchini crisps make for an excellent snack when the kids get home. They’re also great side item dish, and with a little creativity in the presentation department, will surely impress as an appetizer for future dinner parties.

Don’t care for zucchini? Feel free to substitute fresh eggplant into this recipe (which I did the next day), and you’ll be more than happy with the results. 

Celebrating Grandparents Day with Craig O'Neill and Jane Hankins

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In every issue this year we’ve dedicated special space in celebration of our 20th anniversary. This month is no exception, except we are also celebrating National Grandparents Day which is Sunday, September 7. In honor of this beloved familial group, we’ve invited some of our community’s favorite iconic personalities who just so happen to be grandparents themselves.

Enter stage left, creative forces extraordinaire…THV 11’s Craig O’Neill (a.k.a. Randy Hankins) and artist/author Jane Hankins. Married 40+ years, the talented dynamic duo has a way of taking life to a level of Neverland heights. Just imagine being their grandchildren. In the words of another creative icon Dr. Seuss, “Oh, the places you will go.”

So get your giggle box ready and have a hankie handy as we catch up with the couple since Craig and granddaughter Bella graced Little Rock Family’s cover in 2007. They now have two grandchildren. Bella Rose Kerby, 10, has a little sister, Amelia May Kerby, 6.

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Little Rock Family: What do the girls call you and Jane?

Craig: They call me DaDoo. I wanted it to be DooDah as in “Camptown ladies sing this song. . .doodah—doodah”. I stole that idea from our good friend Robyn Dickey. I loved it, DooDah. But, once the children were born and became verbal, we had a vowel movement and it became “DaDoo.” Jane has the wonderfully easy “Na-nee.” Phoenetically, that’s “Nay-knee.”

LRF: How does grandparenting differ from parenting for you?

Craig: Grandparenting is judgment-free. As parents there is a constant nagging question that goes with every decision: “Is this the right choice? Am I doing the right thing?” But, with grandparenting, that inner critic is silenced. As a grandparent, life with your grandchild is a celebration. You lose your inhibition and revel in their constant sense of wonder and discovery. On an intuitive level, you also know, these grandchildren in some small way represent your immortality. This adds even more value to their little lives, and every moment becomes precious.

LRF: What type of grandparents would you say you are?

Craig: If there was one word that sums up our grandparenting style it would be “creative.” (Imagine that!) I am constantly presenting imaginary situations into our lives together. Example: When I would drive Bella to preschool, I would roll down the window of the front seat so that Tinkerbell could come into the car. She wanted to ride with us, and for two miles we chatted with Tinkerbell, who desposited fairy dust on us before she left, so that next time we could just fly to preschool. Jane’s exercises are a little more controlled because they take more set-up time, but just as endearing. The girls hardly ever come over to our house without painting, making something from clay, and even costuming.

LRF: How has grandparenting changed for you since 2007?

Craig: It has been amazing watching the girls change. I have read that the emotional part of the brain is completely developed by age 12, which means Bella is getting close to that age. In talking with her, listening to her inflections and subject matter, which is now all about relationships, I would suggest she is already there. Amelia on the other hand is still in that wonderful state of uninhibited imagination, where fantasy is still the rule, not the exception. I find that the older they get, I tend to linger on the childish moments, realizing they are disappearing very quickly. In talking with grandparents of teens, I get the same lament: “We don’t see them as often, but we love them just as much.”

LRF: What are your favorite aspects of being a grandparent?

Jane: My/our favorite part of being grandparents, is discovery. This means travel, new places, new things. I call it turning over rocks, which is one of our grandkids’ favorite things to do. Simply turning over rocks and seeing what’s underneath there in the garden. All grandparents have a good idea of what’s under the rock, but they don’t know how their grandkids will react, making the entire exercise one of discovery at all levels.

LRF: Do you have any advice for other grandparents?

Craig: There is no advice for grandparents. That’s like telling angels to be nice. Because just being a grandparent is enough. It is all you need. There are so many times in my life I wish I could become invisible and just watch. Just being with them is all it takes. It is, in some measure, perfection. It teaches us all that your capacity for love is limitless. I have seen very successful businessmen produce tears as they spoke of their grandchildren. Grown, learned women, accomplished and successful by every measure, become instantly childlike, getting down on the floor to become a mule. It’s why I can’t wait to see what happens to the Clintons. Watching a grandchild wipe off that political veneer.

LRF: What do you hope your grandchildren learn from you?

Craig: Living 63 years and loving conversing with people, there is one thing I noticed and realized a long time ago before my children became adults. When people remember their grandparents, their voices change. The expression softens. There is a dreaminess to the narrative that wasn’t there before. I realize now, that I have no expectations when it comes to legacy. I know it will be one they will cherish whatever it is. Jane feels that way too. My only regret is that I won’t be there to hear it. I’m sure it would be fascinating, because everything they say and do, is.

The Pratt Family Shares Their Heritage, Heart and Home

Gallery by Karen E. Segrave

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If a picture is truly worth a thousand words, then what you see across here already beautifully illustrates the idea of this story. The Pratt family is intriguing, endearing and dedicated to one another. Cedric and Adama Pratt have been married 12 years and have three sons, Christian, 8, Kaden, 5, and Ian, 1. Cedric is a doctor of ophthalmology in Little Rock specializing in medical and surgical treatment of the retina and vitreous. Their present day story began many years ago in Sierra Leone, West Africa, where their families seemed worlds apart.

Adama explains how they came from two separate tribes. “My family was from a more traditional culture, a lot more primitive. We were traditionally not as educated and were sassy, feisty. Cedric’s family was from the more westernized culture who were originally slaves from England. They were very private.” Adama’s native tongue is Temne. Cedric’s family’s language is Creole or Broken English. Both of their cultures stress the importance of family and different generations looking out for each other.

Cedric’s mother, Elizabeth Pratt shares, “I was raised in Freetown, Sierra Leone, West Africa and came to the United States in 1973, a year after I graduated from secondary school. My life growing up was strict and traditional with a mix of British and African cultures. I attended Anglican primary school and Methodist secondary school. One of the main things I share with my kids and grandkids is education. I was raised that learning is better than silver and gold. I also instill in them to respect their elders, to be kind, and for the older to care for the younger.”

“I let them know that to achieve anything in life, you have to work very hard. I also teach them to not be wasteful, especially with food. My grandmother used to say ‘willful waste makes woeful want.’ There are children in Sierra Leone who live in depressed conditions with no decent clothes or shoes to wear, food to eat or toys to play with. I let my grandchildren know how blessed they are and to be thankful every day,” Elizabeth states. Now living just outside of Houston, Texas, she visits often. She loves spending time with her grandkids doing puzzles and has a special song she sings to the Pratt boys before they go to sleep.

“Good night to you Christian, Kaden, and Ian and sweet be your sleep.

May angels around you thy silent watch keep.

Good night, good night, good night!”

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Adama’s mother, Yabome Kamara, still lives in West Africa but visits when possible. She also shares the importance of hard work and resilience with her grandchildren. She says, “Never give up and always strive for the best. Grow up having the traditions of respecting and taking care of parents and grandparents.” She loves going to the zoo and telling them stories from home.

Adama says of her mother, “She enjoys seeing us parent our kids and pass on some of the things we learned from them. It brings her joy to experience the blessing of grandkids. She loves redeeming the kids from discipline in our home by telling us to charge their misbehavior to her account. And that is something grandparents say back home. I tell her that my kids would be spoiled if I don’t make some withdrawals!”

Adama was born and raised in Sierra Leone while Cedric was born in the United States. There were times he lived in Sierra Leone, but primarily grew up in the U.S. Adama came to the States to attend college. She says, “My father always encouraged me to further my education.” They met while they were both in college at Abilene Christian University in Texas.

It was not love at first sight though. Adama explains, “My brother and I were speaking in our own language one time in the student union and Cedric just came up and joined the conversation. I didn’t know him and thought he was being nosy. It ended up that he and my brother had played soccer together.”

Cedric muses, “I thought she was stuck up at first.” After some time passed Cedric learned of war going on in Adama’s home country and asked her how her family was doing and if they were safe. The two began talking, eventually started dating, and then married.

After obtaining their degrees at Abilene, Cedric attended medical school at the University of North Texas and completed his residency in Ohio. The young family then made Arkansas their home.

The Pratts share their heritage with their young sons by speaking their native tongues at home and cooking African food. They also have their own personal traditions. Adama says, “Cedric has read the Bible to Christian every night ever since he was in my tummy. We go to the library a lot. I love the learning aspects of life. It’s rewarding to see the boys growing and the tools God has given them to be men.”

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Cedric affirms, “We want them to grow up with a heart for service and to always look for someone to help. Be mindful of who’s around you. I want our sons to grow up knowing we are very blessed. Family is very important to us. Family is the cornerstone of our community and the cornerstone of our country.”

Cookin’ with Grandma

SCOTCH EGGS
Traditional African Recipe from Elizabeth Pratt

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  • A Scotch egg consists of a hard-boiled egg wrapped in sausage meat, coated in bread crumbs and baked or deep-fried.
  • 6 large eggs
  • 2-16oz Jimmy Dean Sausages (Regular and Hot) I like my food hot and spicy and my children and grandchildren do not.
  • 2 cups of breadcrumbs
  • Vegetable oil (for frying)
  • Preparation and Directions

• Place 4 eggs in a small saucepan; add cold water to cover. Bring to a boil; remove from heat, cover, and let stand for 3 minutes. Carefully drain, then fill pan with ice water to cool eggs. Gently crack shells and carefully peel under cold running water. Place eggs in a bowl of cold water; cover and chill until cold. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Keep chilled.

• Place breadcrumbs in a wide shallow bowl and the unwrapped sausages in another wide shallow bowl. Divide sausage into 4 equal portions. Pat 1 portion of sausage into a thin patty over the length of your palm. Lay one soft-boiled egg on top of sausage and wrap sausage around egg, sealing to completely enclose. Repeat with remaining sausage and eggs.

• Whisk remaining two eggs in a medium bowl to blend. Working gently with one sausage-wrapped egg at a time, coat in blended egg. Roll in breadcrumbs to coat. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Keep refrigerated, uncovered.

• Attach a deep-fry thermometer to side of a large heavy pot. Pour in oil to a depth of 2” and heat over medium heat to 375°. Fry eggs, turning occasionally and maintaining oil temperature of 350°, until sausage is cooked through and breading is golden brown and crisp, 5–6 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer eggs to paper towels to drain.

• Cut eggs into 2 to 4 pieces and serve warm or cold.

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What’s new in shopping, the arts, music, travel, fun parties and delicious food in Arkansas? Let Lauren James of InArkansas.com be your guide. An avid shopper, traveler and lover of everything-arts-related, she will show you the best of what Arkansas has to offer. Make InArkansas.com your go-to spot every day to learn the latest in entertainment, dining, attractions, activities and more.
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