Best Totally Appropriate Response to Conservation

Of course Arkansas would have a specialized black operations team … for cleaning up waste in Arkansas’ waterways. Through missions with names the likes of The Giant Dumpster Adventure, the Arkansas Canoe Club Black Ops Advanced Trash Removal team goes on trips along what should be the most pristine and pulchritudinous of The Natural State’s liquid resources and floats out refuse that blights the waterscape. Over the years, they’ve fished out more than 2,000 tires, two giant dumpsters, porta potties, refrigerators and stoves. Where is that 124,685 pounds of garbage now? Not in our rivers. That’s for sure.

Best New Stacks of Wax

We’ve been following Control Records since the business first launched last year in Little Rock as a series of pop-up vinyl shops. But now that Control has officially opened its brick-and-mortar record store—in the heart of Hillcrest, no less—well, let’s just say our wallets are considerably lighter than they were before, and our record collections have curiously grown in size. There’s probably a correlation there, but is there really such a thing as too many records? (If you ask our significant others, the answer is a definitive “yes.”) 

Best Blast from Arkansas’ Musical Past

During its heyday in the 1950s and ’60s, The Rockwood Club in Fayetteville played host to such musical greats as Jerry Lee Lewis, Ronnie Hawkins, Levon Helm, Roy Orbison and Wanda Jackson, among others. The storied music hall hasn’t seen live performances since the ’70s, but the building’s new owner, real estate broker Mark Risk, hopes to change that by re-establishing the Rockwood as a music venue and museum. So—fingers crossed—it sounds like the Rockwood is on track to be a place of record once again.

Best Place to Give It a Swing

In another case of will-they-won’t-they, we’d long been anticipating a “Topgolf Comes to Little Rock!” announcement. When it came out that, yes, the Caddyshack-meets-Dave & Buster’s outpost—with 70-ish climate-controlled hitting bays and a rooftop bar with fire pits—would be landing in Rogers, we shrugged, agreed that made good sense, Walmart HQ and all, and marked our calendars for a visit. Set to open in spring 2020, it’ll be another itinerary entry on our regular weekend getaways up Northwest Arkansas way, sandwiched by a jaunt down the Razorback Greenway and a show at the Walmart AMP, which is basically in Topgolf chipping distance.

Best Fishy Legislative Business

Earlier this year, in a move reminiscent of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, one young Mr. Henry Foster, then all of 11 years old, brought his cause to the halls of the state Capitol in Little Rock, where he made an impassioned plea: Arkansas has no state fish—why not make it the alligator gar? (For those unfamiliar with the snaggletoothed, often man-sized bottom-dweller, it’s … well, it’s got a face for radio.) Though the young Mr. Foster’s 451-day campaign faced pushback from the deceptively sizable minnow, goldfish, et al. lobbies, and ultimately resulted in the compromise “state primitive fish” designation, we’ve got to say: Henry, the alligator gar has us positively hooked.

Best Trail Blazers

It seems that just about every time we wheel around, there’s another accolade or nationally circulated article about Northwest Arkansas’ burgeoning mountain-biking scene—with good reason, of course. However, for those of us who live elsewhere in the state, so much bike envy is liable to give us a complex. Fortunately, recent developments have indeed given us a complex … system of trails, that is. Monument Trails—a public-private partnership with support from, you guessed it, the Walton Family Foundation—has extended the run to state parks, including the recently opened Mount Nebo trail system and forthcoming projects at Pinnacle and beyond.

 Best Camp for One and All

We could go on and on (and on) about Ferncliff Camp and Conference Center. From its sustainability program to its Nature Preschool to its Disaster Assistance Center, Ferncliff’s 1,500 idyllic acres offer dozens of service and recreational opportunities. But what we find most admirable about this Presbyterian-governed paradise is its dedication to inclusion: Trans kids are housed where they feel most comfortable. Ferncliff points to the Bible to support the camp’s policy, citing examples of Jesus calling for acceptance of those of diverse genders in his own time—the eunuch who started the Ethiopian church, and Deborah, the female judge and warrior.