1/9 Oaklawn Racing Season Opening Day (Edit: Opening day has been pushed to January 15 due to weather)
HOT SPRINGS | To go digging through Oaklawn’s history, looking through archival images and articles from the near and distant past, is to understand the excitement of the place is always the same. Because while the names of horses and owners might change from year to year—with some years bringing more pronounced changes to the setting, like this year’s soon-to-open $20 million update to the iconic track’s casino—the experience of visiting the racetrack goes virtually unchanged. The races are still run the same way—and the crowds are always cheering.
(Ed note: To commemorate the major expansion project, which is scheduled to finish a few days before the beginning of the season, Oaklawn will waive its $2 admission fees for the 2015 season. For more information, visit oaklawn.com)
1/11 Northwest Arkansas Mixology & Cocktail Competition, 6 p.m. at Greenhouse Grille
FAYETTEVILLE | OK, let’s get this straight. Twelve bartenders and mixologists are competing to see who can create the best craft cocktail in Northwest Arkansas, there will be appetizers and live music, and it is free to the public? Well. Let’s just say, we’ll see you there.
(Visit facebook.com/nwamixology for more information)
1/14 Architecture Speaker Series: “Aalto’s Identities,” 7 p.m. at Crystal Bridges
BENTONVILLE | Odds are if you’re not familiar with Finnish architects, the name Alvar Aalto might not mean much. You might not know, for example, that he’s considered a canonical figure in the annals of 20th century architecture and design. Or that his name graces everything from streets to one of Finland’s largest universities. But after attending this lecture by Peter MacKeith, the recently appointed dean of the Fay Jones School of Architecture—and who, it bears mentioning, was director of Master of Architecture-International Program at what’s now Aalto University for a time—you’ll definitely remember his name.
(For more information, visit crystalbridges.org)
1/20 An Evening with Randy Newman, 7:30 p.m. at University of Central Arkansas Reynolds Performance Hall
CONWAY | Just what hasn’t Randy Newman done? The young among us are undoubtedly familiar with the two-time Academy Award, three-time Emmy Award and six-time Grammy Award winner’s work scoring the generation-defining Toy Story and Monsters, Inc., as well as many more of Disney-Pixar’s most popular films, to name just a few. But those a little bit older will appreciate his sardonic piano-pop songs such as “Short People” and “Political Science,” which made their own sets of ripples earlier in his career. Backed by the Conway Symphony Orchestra, there’s no better way to see a living American Legend.
(Visit uca.edu/publicappearances for more information)
1/23 – 2/8 Rumpelstiltskin at Arkansas Arts Center’s Children’s Theatre (Fridays, Saturdays & Sundays)
LITTLE ROCK | The bad news is the Arkansas Arts Center’s Children’s Theatre is already halfway through its superb 2014-15 season of plays adapted from classic works of children’s literature. The good news is that the nationally recognized regional theater company has saved some of its best for last, including this month’s production of the Brothers Grimm fairy tale “Rumpelstiltskin”—a morality tale of what can happen when you boast and make a promise you can’t keep.
(Visit arkarts.com for more information)
Eagle Awareness Month
If there’s one truth that can be said of Eagle Awareness Month, it’s that there’s really no shortage of awareness—a cursory look at the available eagle tours run throughout the month is staggering, to put it lightly. With that in mind, we turned to Dan Scheiman of the Audobon Society for some of the best places to try for the birds.
Jan. 1: First Day Hike at Petit Jean State Park
Jan. 13: Hugo and Gayne Preller’s “House of Light” at Delta Cultural Center in Helena
Jan. 15: Art Talk: State of the Art artist Linda Lopez at Crystal Bridges in Bentonville
Jan. 16-17: Monster Jam at Verizon Arena in North Little Rock
Jan. 17: Big Red Ball Homebrew Contest at Stone’s Throw Brewing in Little Rock
Jan. 21-Feb. 8: The Whipping Man at The Rep in Little Rock
Jan. 22-Feb. 22: Practice What You Preach: New Work by the UCA Art Faculty at the Baum Gallery in Conway
Jan. 29-Feb. 22: Look Away at Studio Theatre at Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville
Jan. 29: Oxford American jazz series ft. Peter Martin & Romero Lubambo at South on Main in Little Rock
Jan. 30: Tangram at Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville
Jan. 30: Shovels & Rope at Rev Room in Little Rock
Jan. 31: Saints & Sinners at the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock
Jan. 31-Feb. 1: ASO Masterworks Tchaikovsky & Mozart Festival in Maumelle