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41 Things to Love About Arkansas*


* Which may or may not be true.

1) The good folks of Gillett did not settle upon the signature dish of their annual political fete, the Coon Supper, until after trying, and failing, with possum, jackelope, and snipe.

2) The Dardanelle High School Sand Lizards were originally named for an early assistant coach’s ex-girlfriend, Sandy Izard.

3-6) Four episodes of “The Twilight Zone” were filmed in downtown Gurdon but remain unaired because of a rights dispute with the Concatenated Order of the Hoo-Hoo, whose monument figures prominently in each.

7) Because of a transcription error in their incorporation papers, the official name of the state’s newest minor league baseball team is the Northwest Arkansas Naturists.

8) Every spring on Wye Mountain, one daffodil blooms fuchsia. The person who finds it gets a certificate for a free goat or baby camel from the Heifer International Ranch.

9) The concept of a dry county was first invented for a skit on the “Lum and Abner” radio show to poke fun at U.S. Sen. Joseph T. Robinson. Its actual implementation was the result of a misunderstanding by listeners in Union County.

10) The undefeated 1964 University of Arkansas Razorbacks football team was nominated for the Nobel Prize for Football, but the Nobel Foundation opted to make no award that year.

11) There are more snake handlers than snake charmers in Arkansas, which makes no difference to the state’s housewives just as long as they don’t bring the damn things home with ‘em.

12-21) The starting nine of the 1944 Pine Bluff Zebras baseball team were all drafted into the Army after graduation. They went on to help win the All-Army European Baseball Cup, not to mention the war.

22) Vess Soda was the official drink of the Mississippi County Community College marching band from 1923 to 1947, when Mr. Pibb won the contract.

23) The Poyen-Prattsville Salt Flats, which gave Saline County its name, were mined out of existence in the 1890s to help satisfy the nation’s craving for a newly popular snack food, potato chips.

24) Newton County was the last county in Arkansas to get a railroad track not because of politics or economics or terrain, but because of the undue influence of the Muleteers and Carters Local 57 in Jasper.

25) In 1935, after seeing “A Night at the Opera,” a justice of the peace from Eudora proposed removing the “T” from Chicot County, in honor of his favorite Marx Brother. The motion died for lack of a second.

26) You can drink alcohol in any public park in any city in Arkansas.

27) That’s not to say you won’t be breaking the law while you do it.

28) There has not been a measured rainfall in Lee County since 1977 because the rain gauge was stolen off the courthouse that May and the Quorum Court never remembers to include a new one in the annual budget.

29) Piggott remains the only town in Arkansas to have been home, even temporarily, to a Nobel Laureate in Literature. The rest of the towns continue to tune out Piggott when it brings this up at Municipal League cocktail parties.

30) Cow-tipping isn’t legal inside the Cabot city limits but, because of a loophole in the ordinance, cow-tumping is.

31) Arkansas is the No. 3 producer of telegraph poles.

32) Thanks to residuals from the movie “A Christmas Story,” Daisy Outdoor Products in Rogers established a nonprofit foundation to provide a new Red Ryder BB gun for every boy in town on his 9th birthday. Or that’s what the 8-year-old boy demographic in Rogers thinks they should do, at any rate.

33) Among residents of Humnoke, it is considered polite to ignore a stranger the first time they ask how you like living in England. Second offenses are punishable with a punch in the nose.

34) Over the past couple of decades, the Wings Over the Prairie Festival has had to explain to the marketing folks from Disney no less than seven times why it would be a bad idea for Donald Duck to be the mascot for the event.

35) In 1962 cannibalism was briefly decriminalized in Desha County, provided the victim was a practicing attorney-at-law. The ordinance was overturned the next day by the Arkansas Supreme Court, which also sent the quorum court’s members home without supper and instructions to “gnaw on your arm if you get hungry.”

36) People in Altheimer are really, really tired of being asked how their memory is these days.

37) British people laugh hysterically when you tell them there’s a town in Arkansas called Bald Knob. They will not explain why.

38) During the first week of the 1985-86 school year, it was so hot in Little Rock that Father George Tribou allowed the students at Catholic High School for Boys to wear shorts. After seeing his first pair of Jams, however, he rescinded the permission.

39) Despite its status as the official state rock, bauxite is not considered a suitable engagement ring stone according to a survey of every marriageable young woman in Arkansas.

40) Contrary to popular belief, there is not a moon rocket hidden inside the Christ of the Ozarks statue at Eureka Springs. So please stop trying to find a way inside the thing.

41) Arkansas has produced three U.S. presidents. (This fact has been vigorously disputed by so-called historians.)

Nota Bene: This 2012 column, intended to be a humorous adjunct to a magazine article about favorite Arkansas places, got rejected by a publisher who worried readers might be… confused. I offer it here, confident that you won’t be confused at all.