So Many Options So Little Time
Labor Day in Northwest Arkansas can conger up many images in one’s mind. The first thing that I think of is color, vibrant color. The second is sound; a dense cacophony of music, laughter and maybe even screams of delight. Third are the smells of food cooking, wet pavement, fresh air and the green smell of grass. These, to me, are the ingredients for the perfect Labor Day weekend.
Some people will instantly think of the Washington County Fair which easily satisfies all of the above criteria, or the Arkansas Razorback Red and White game which also fits the bill. The War Eagle Mill Labor Day celebration does a fine job fulfilling the requirements but what we went for a weekend of tradition blended with the eclectic.
Lights in the Night
Friday night we were transported to a psychedelic dream land the likes of which Alice herself couldn’t imagine. The Crystal Bridges Night Light Party is something so unique that it is hard to put in words. This free family friendly event masters the art of capturing the hearts and minds of children and adults alike making it abroad spectrum affiar that almost anyone can look forward to every year.
You start your journey at the Leo Villareal’s Buckyball which pluses with colorful lights. You’ll notice a crowd surrounding it staring up and smiling like they are watching a movie but really they are experiencing the Buckyball’s effects through the literal lenses of rainbow spectrum diffraction glasses provided free of charge.
As you round the corner into the heart of the event you are met with light displays, laser light shows, booths with light or glow themed activities, a step and repeat with a professional photographer and way in the distance a food truck and beer garden with an impressive stage.
We were walking around with our glasses on taking in the diffracted sites when DJ AttA took the stage. His style combined with the beautiful electric violin of KAT V where like a siren song that we couldn’t refuse.
I’m glad we didn’t fight the temptation because we would have missed the hypnotic performances by Quixotic. The Aerial Ballet was like something out of a Maxfield Parrish dreamscape painting and the Poi artists were like nothing I’ve ever seen (trust me I’ve seen ALOT of poi). Unfortunately I didn’t get any photos worthy of posting.
Coffee, Art and Farmer’s Market
After a long night of fun on Friday, Saturday was for taking it easy at the Fayetteville Farmers Market. We started out a local favorite, Arsaga’s dubbed “Church and Center” due to the cross streets where you can find the place. Here you can get trendy but non-pretentious drinks and “toast” which is a bit of a misnomer. This stuff is to toast the way that Chicago deep dish is to pizza, still in the same family but an understatement to say the least. Think open face sandwich and you’ll have a better idea.
We then made our rounds of the actual Farmers Market admiring the produce, flowers, hand-made cheese, clothes and pottery.
Each corner of the square had music worth taking in. This was a sweet jazz band that could have kept me there all morning. This little ditty was in French.
…and of course I had to stop and pet this little guy because, well, come on…
Summer Day’s Drifting Away
For most in this area Labor Day means the closing of summer usually with a bang at the lake and we were no exception. You would be hard-pressed to find an unoccupied picnic table or even a spot to spread out a blanket on the banks of Beaver Lake on Labor Day. We were lucky to be invited to a private dock party because we did not get an early enough start to fight the crowds that we passed on the way.
We took in the end of summer with friends, family, food… and a giant inflatable lobster…
To round out our long weekend we took a tiny road trip to Eureka Springs. If you’ve never been to Eureka imagine a Victorian Swiss Village meets San Francisco nestled into the rolling hills of the Ozarks. It is a tourist town, no doubt, but the true residence make it what it is. An artist haven where it’s ok to be “delightfully tacky”, the more eccentric the better and a place where one can let one’s “freak flag fly”. In Basin Park we noted a booth of “born again” type merchandise being sold next to some wire rapped jewelry of the extreme hippy variety right in front of an old fashioned ice cream parlor. All I’m saying is if these folks can all co-exists, maybe we can too…
I am usually salivating just thinking about Eureka because that means one thing… The Local Flavor! Unfortunately, my Dad had a hankering for something of the soul food variety so after driving around arguing for half an hour we ended up at The Rowdy Beaver. I’ve eaten here a few times none of which left me wowed but this time was different. We shared potato skins which were crispy and delicious and I had grilled shrimp with rice and seamed carrots. The shrimps were huge a juicy and the carrots were like sweet potatoes!
With our bellies full and our cholesterol through the roof we decided that it was time to take on the hills of downtown and take in the sights. We stopped in a hat shop (that didn’t allow photos), a taffy shop, a kite shop and several bric-a-brac shops. Shops,shops,shops!
There are also numerous trails to take in the more natural aspects of the beauty and art just crammed into every little corner of this place. I’ve been exploring Eureka Springs for most of my life and just when I think I’ve taken it all in I’m surprised by something that I’ve never seen before.
When It’s All Said And Done
We definitely didn’t do EVERYTHING this Labor Day weekend but I feel pretty satisfied that the image of what should be represented on this holiday was. Our vibrant colors were everywhere but enhanced at the Night Light Party thanks to some special specks, we spent the entire weekend taking in music and laughter and everywhere we went we had some amazing food. Considering there was also art and a cute puppy, I’d say we got the most out of this Labor Day weekend for sure.
What did you do over the Holiday? Leave me a comment and maybe next year I’ll give your favorite thing to do a try!