Monthly Archives: February 2016

The Open Road: Photography and the American Road Trip Exhibition Opens Today

Bentonville_CB_OpenRoad_Morath_ThisGuyI challenge you to take a road trip to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville to see the new exhibition, The Open Road: Photography and the American Road Trip, on view Feb. 27 through May 30, 2016. On your way to Northwest Arkansas, stop and snap your own photos of the interesting things you see along the way. Then, post your favorite road trip photo through Twitter or Instagram and tag the location plus #OpenRoadTrip. When you get to the museum, your picture will be among the mix of photos in the exhibit’s digital map and photo display.

While you’re sure to enjoy this digital road-trip photography, I have no doubt you’ll find the photos featured in this new exhibition equally interesting and compelling. It includes more than 100 images and features the work of 19 photographers on the move across America from the 1950s to today. Organized by Aperture Foundation, New York, The Open Road debuts at Crystal Bridges and represents the museum’s first large-scale photography exhibition.

Bentonville_CB_OpenRoad_Plossu_girltypewriterThe Open Road presents the story of the American road as inspiration, including iconic elements such as roadside motels, Mt. Rushmore, the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, Route 66, the Pacific Coast Highway, and theme parks, as well as conveying everyday America. The images provide offbeat and personal reflections of the photographers’ journeys, completed between 1955 and 2014, including the people they encounter, car culture, roadside attractions, and more.

Photographers featured in the exhibition include Robert Frank, Ed Ruscha, Garry Winogrand, Inge Morath, William Eggleston, Lee Friedlander, Joel Meyerowitz, Jacob Holdt, Stephen Shore, Bernard Plossu, Victor Burgin, Joel Sternfeld, Alec Soth, Todd Hido, Shinya Fujiwara, Ryan McGinley, Justine Kurland, and Taiyo Onorato and Nico Krebs. Together, these photographers elevate the snapshot—often taken through the window of a moving car—to a work of art.

Bentonville_CB_OpenRoad_ShoreAlso in the exhibit are the different camera formats and films used by the photographers. A fun hands-on cropping activity lets you explore the impact of including or excluding information from an image. Another section shows how the road has been an inspiration to authors, musicians, and filmmakers.

Crystal Bridges will offer more than 30 programs related to the exhibition, ranging from art talks and photography workshops to culinary and Museum Store events.

If you enjoy guided tours, they are offered Mondays and Thursdays from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. This tour will look closely at the photographs of five or six significant artists in the exhibition and discuss the photographers’ road trips plus how these experiences influenced their work.

Rare artist books by Ed Ruscha, including Twentysix Gasoline Stations, will be on display in the library exhibit case from mid-April to mid-June, and will be the focus of a special Great Reveal public program on March 30 and April 1. Also, visit the museum library to find more views of the highways and byways of America in catalogs celebrating photography of the American landscape. Books collecting work by The Open Road artists such as Inge Morath, Stephen Shore, Lee Friedlander, and Ed Ruscha will be available for reading in the library throughout the exhibition.

Bentonville_CB_OpenRoad_Kurland_accordianDon’t forget some tunes for your road trip home by picking up the Spotify playlist featuring well-loved songs of the road. The playlist was created with the help of Crystal Bridges’ social media followers, and includes road-trip themes such as “King of the Road,” “On the Road Again,” and many more. Click here to listen. (A free Spotify account is required.)

Admission:

General admission to the temporary exhibition is $10 and free to members and youth ages 18 and under.  Admission is also free on Thursday evenings from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., thanks to exhibition sponsors. Non-flash photography is welcome for personal, non-commercial use.

The exhibition is sponsored at Crystal Bridges by Coca-Cola, Stout Executive Search, and ConAgra Foods.

Movie Connection: Arkansas and Oscar-nominated The Revenant

If you liked the movie The Revenant and are rooting for it to win in its nominated fields during the upcoming Academy Awards ceremony this Sunday, Feb. 28, then here are two items at two different Arkansas museums that you will enjoy seeing.

The Revenant is based on true events. “While on a danger-laden journey through the American wilderness in the early 1800s, frontiersman Hugh Glass is badly mauled by a grizzly and abandoned by his fellow trappers. Barely surviving his wounds, Glass is driven by thoughts of his family and a desire for revenge as he endures the frigid winter and pursues the men who left him for dead,” according to the film synopsis. One of the fur trappers in the party is a young man named Jim Bridger.

Bentonville_Monah_Jim_Bridgers_rifleThe Museum of Native American History in Bentonville displays one of Jim Bridger’s rifles (Ca. 1822). It is believed to be Bridger’s first rifle. “He built the rifle when he served as an apprentice to the master gunsmith Phillip Creamer from 1817 to 1822. It was originally a .50 caliber flintlock but was later changed to percussion, as many were. It represent one of the earliest known Plains-style rifles,” according to the museum placard. “Bridger was among the foremost mountain men, trappers, scouts and guides who explored and trapped the western United States during the early 1800’s. As an ally to native tribes he was sometimes called upon to be a mediator between them and encroaching whites.”

Museum Curator Matt Rowe said “This is the only rifle known to be attributed to Jim Bridger being not just owned by him by made by him when he was a gunsmith. It has Phil Creamer’s mark and it has Jim Bridger’s mark on the bottom side of the barrel. It’s the only one known to exist, so it’s really a special piece.”

“There were a lot of people upset about that movie, The Revenant, because it didn’t portray Jim Bridger in the proper light,” added Rowe.

Bentonville_Crystal_bridges_Bear_Hunting_paintingCrystal Bridges Museum of American Art, also in Bentonville, has a painting hanging in its 17th century gallery that will, no doubt, call the movie, The Revenant, to mind. The oil on canvas by Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait (1819-1905) is titled “A Tight Fix – Bear Hunting, Early Winter [The Life of a Hunter: A Tight Fix].”

It’s not about Hugh Glass or his hunting party, but it looks like a scene straight from The Revenant. As the museum description details, the painting is interesting for other reasons: “Although Tait’s painting is an icon of American cultural mythology and masculinity, it was controversial when first exhibited. Critics believed Tait botched the representation of the second hunter, making it unclear if he is aiming at the bear. The combatants are at an impasse – neither bear nor man is winning – so a bullet is the only solution to the ‘tight fix.’ If the second hunter’s aim is off, Tait’s narrative has no conclusion.”

I have to admit that I feel disturbed when I look at this painting because the hunter with the gun doesn’t seem to be aiming at the bear and surely the bear will kill the other man. And, I can’t see if there is another threat the man has a right to be aiming at instead of helping the other hunter. The Revenant is no less disturbing in many scenes for worse reasons.

The Revenant is a Best Picture Nominee in this year’s Oscars. The Academy Awards, or “Oscars,” is an annual American awards ceremony hosted by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to recognize excellence in cinematic achievements in the film industry as assessed by the Academy’s voting membership.

Related “The Revenant” nominees include:

Actor in a Leading Role, Leonardo DiCaprio

Cinematography, The Revenant

Directing, The Revenant

Actor in a Supporting Role, Tom Hardy

Costume Design, The Revenant

Sound Editing, The Revenant

Film Editing, The Revenant

Sound Mixing, The Revenant

Production Design, The Revenant

Makeup and Hairstyling, The Revenant

Visual Effects, The Revenant

Whether you see the movie, or watch the Oscars, Crystal Bridges and the Museum of Native American History are worth your time for The Revenant connections and so much more.

Marionettes, musicals, and Grammy Award-winning musicians at WAC

by Jill Rohrbach

Upcoming shows at the Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville include marionettes in The Sound of Music, Grammy Award-winning musicians, and the Broadway musical The Bridges of Madison County.

The Sound of Music marionette-styleFayetteville_WAC_marionettes_SoundofMusic

Direct from Salzburg, Austria, The Salzburg Marionette Theatre’s The Sound of Music is making its way to Walton Arts Center as part of the Family Fun Series. This distinguished group will perform one show Tuesday, March 8 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15 to $20 and can be purchased by calling Walton Arts Center’s Box Office at 479-443-5600 or by visiting waltonartscenter.org.

The art of the Salzburg Marionette Theatre is based on the tradition of creating lifelike figures on the stage, giving the audience the illusion of watching real people. The perfect construction of the figures and countless technical inventions and achievements have made the Salzburg Marionette Theatre a leading representative of the art. The fine expressive detail in the sculptured heads, the meticulous tailoring of the costumes and the impeccable construction of the stage-sets – all these qualities combine to produce the outstanding performances of the Salzburg Marionette Theatre.

Mavis Staples with Nick LoweFayetteville_WAC_Staples_Lowe

The 2016 Grammy Award winner for Best Roots Performance, Mavis Staples, in a fruitful collaboration with Nick Lowe will be at 8 p.m. on Sat. March 12 at WAC. This show is part of the 2015-16 Popcorn, Indiana American Music Series. Ticket prices range from $33 to $53 and can be purchased by calling  479-443-5600 or visiting waltonartscenter.org.

For six decades, Mavis Staples has been a solid rock of American music. Strongly identified with the family group, the Staple Singers, Staples is also a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award winner and a National Heritage Fellowship Award recipient. VH1 named her one of the 100 Greatest Women of Rock and Roll and Rolling Stone listed her as one of the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time. Her previous album, the Tweedy-produced You Are Not Alone won the Grammy Award for Best Americana Album in 2011, adding a remarkable new chapter to an already historic career.

Nick Lowe has made his mark as a producer (Elvis Costello, Graham Parker, Pretenders, The Damned), and songwriter of at least three songs you know by heart. He had a short-lived career as a pop star and a lengthy term as a musicians’ musician.

The Bridges of Madison CountyFayetteville_WAC_BridgesMadisonCo

One of the most romantic stories ever written, The Bridges of Madison County, opens at Walton Arts Center on Tues., April 19 and runs through Sun., April 24. Tickets are $30 to $70 and can be purchased by calling the box office at 479-443-5600 or by visiting waltonartscenter.org.

Showtimes:

  • Tues., April 19-Thurs., April 21 at 7 p.m.
  • Friday, April 22 at 8 p.m.
  • Sat., April 23 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.
  • Sun., April 24 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Based on the best-selling novel by Robert James Waller, The Bridges of Madison County tells the story of Iowa housewife Francesca Johnson and her life-changing, four-day whirlwind romance with traveling photographer Robert Kincaid. It’s an unforgettable story of two people caught between decision and desire, as a chance encounter becomes a second chance at so much more.

The critically acclaimed musical The Bridges of Madison County features one of Broadway’s most accomplished creative teams with music and lyrics by three-time Tony Award®-winning composer Jason Robert Brown (Parade, The Last Five Years), book by Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Marsha Norman (The Secret Garden, The Color Purple, ‘night, Mother) and led by Tony Award-winning director Bartlett Sher (South Pacific, The King and I, The Light in the Piazza).

Pea Ridge National Military Park Celebrations and Anniversaries

On March 7-8, 1862, some 10,500 Union soldiers turned back about 16,000 Confederate troops who were marching through extreme northwestern Arkansas en route to Missouri with hopes of capturing St. Louis. As a result of the battle, Missouri remained in Union hands for the duration of the Civil War and the door was quickly opened to the federal conquest of Arkansas and the lower Mississippi River.

Today, the grounds and history of that battle are preserved and interpreted as Pea Ridge National Military Park. It is one of eight Arkansas parks in the National Park System, which celebrates its centennial this year.

Pea_Ridge_NPS_Superintendent_Kevin_Eads_3

Superintendent Kevin Eads

Pea Ridge National Military Park marks two of its own anniversaries in March – the 154th anniversary of the battle, and the one year anniversary for the new superintendent, Kevin Eads.

A 24-year veteran of the National Park Service, Eads rose to the position last year when Superintendent John Scott retired. As the chief of resource management at the park, and having lived and worked with the local communities of northwest Arkansas for the past 12 years, Eads is no stranger to the task at hand.

“It has been an amazing, and extremely short, year. However, I am no less honored and proud to serve in the superintendent’s capacity and work with the incredible staff of the park as well as the community and friends of the park. We have been able to do great things and develop creative ideas and I’m definitely looking forward to the opportunity of working with them for another year,” he said. “My vision of the park’s future is to be able to provide new and creative learning opportunities for each visitor, repair and maintain park facilities and infrastructure so that visitors can experience what the park has to offer, and continually strive to improve those experiences while preserving the historic resources of the Battle of Pea Ridge.”

Located on U.S. 62 about nine miles northeast of Rogers, the 4,300-acre Pea Ridge National Military Park preserves the entire battlefield, much of it appearing as it did when the fighting occurred.

Pea_Ridge_NMP_event“We were established because of the battle,” Eads said. “There were 26,000 soldiers combined that fought and thousands that fought and died. So preservation is to honor them and to memorialize their actions, both sides. The preservation also is so that we can share that story generation by generation in such a way that we are able to make it relevant to that time.”

He said the importance of the site goes beyond the actual battle itself but also speaks to bigger issues such as why the Civil War occurred and what happened afterward. All of that ties in with the area’s cultural resources as well as the natural.

Eads advises visitors to visit the park’s website, www.nps.gov/peri/, and Facebook page for information about the park and planning a visit. He also suggests making the Visitor Center the first stop to experiencing the park.

The park visitor center shows a 30-minute film, “Thunder in the Ozarks,” which recounts the battle and provides an informative and inspiring prelude to a self-guided driving tour. “There is a bookstore there as well. They can learn about the park and the layout of the park, exhibits, and trails,” Eads said.

The 10-stop driving tour includes wayside exhibits. Highlights of the tour include the East Overlook, from which much of the battlefield can be seen, and the reconstructed Elkhorn Tavern. “One thing we have at each of our stops is a cell phone tour,” Eads added. Exhibit panels have phone numbers to call to hear a message specific to each site for further interpretation of the battle.

While the park does preserve the battlefield and interpret the military history, it offers plenty of recreational value as well. “We get a lot of recreational visitors for just hiking or biking, horseback riding too,” Eads said. Outdoor activities include nine miles of horse trails and seven miles of hiking trails. However, the entire park, all 4,300 acres, is open for exploration. “They can go through every bit of it. They don’t have to stick to the trails. They can go through the woods if they like,” Eads added.

He said there are many layers of history from prehistoric to current day that are evident. Round Meadow in the western end of the park may be the remains of a Pleistocene lake. Eads said fossilized coral that dates to that time period has been found in the park as well. Additionally, it was once part of the Butterfield Stagecoach Route. The landscape shows remains of house foundations from before and after the Civil War, and there are two cemeteries.

The Pea Ridge battle was also noteworthy as the first Civil War battle in which Native Americans took part on a large scale. Some 1,000 Cherokees participated, including Stand Watie, who would rise to the rank of brigadier general and be the last Confederate general to surrender at war’s end. The park also has one of the longest segments of the Trail of Tears, about a 3-mile segment used by 11 Cherokee groups in the late 1830s as they marched from the southeastern U.S. to the Indian Territory during the forced migration known as “the Trail of Tears.”

To note the 154th anniversary of the Battle of Pea Ridge, the park will offer events on Saturday, March 5. “We’ll have living history demonstrations, and re-enactors set up in camps,” Eads said. “We’ll fire cannons and small arms, and give talks about the activity of firing and the battle as well.”

Eads said visitors should note that the park entrance has recently changed in conjunction with removal of the highway from within the park, and improving and expanding the parking lots.

For more Pea Ridge information, call 479-451-8122.

10 top places to kiss in The Natural State

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, you might be looking for a special place to spend idyllic time with your sweetie. You can create a tale of love and adventure in Arkansas at numerous romantic places, but here’s a tip on 10 top places to kiss (or propose) in The Natural State.

  1. Mount_Magazine_Lodge_Sunset_233_lLocking lips at this locale is literally the top place to kiss in Arkansas. Signal Hill at Mt. Magazine State Park near Paris is the highest point of the peak at 2,753 feet above mean sea level. There’s no higher ground in The Natural State; although, when kissing your sweetheart, your feet may not be on the ground anyway. A balcony off the lodge or deck of one of the cabins makes for a romantic background as well. www.mountmagazinestatepark.com
  2. Take a selfie and an artful approach to romance in front of the LOVE sculpture at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville. Afterward, enjoy a romantic stroll through the art galleries. And if love alone is not enough to sustain you, there are plenty of good eats and drinks available here at the museum restaurant, Eleven. www.crystalbridges.org
  3. Show your heart’s desire the depths of your love with a trip to Blanchard Springs Caverns in Mountain View. Talk about mood lighting; the illumination of the soft-hued calcite formations is sure to kindle a romantic pause. Experiencing the beauty of the cave together will be a treasured memory. www.blanchardsprings.org blanchardcaverns
  4. Sunset Point just sounds like a place to make out, doesn’t it? Hey – this is a public family venue with a beautiful view at Mt. Nebo State Park near Dardanelle, so don’t make too much of a public display of affection. But, at day’s end, it’s definitely a heart-warming place for a little smooch. www.arkansasstateparks.com
  5. Whitaker Point, a sandstone rock outcrop jutting out about 100 feet above the forest floor, is one of the most photographed spots in the state. Also known as Hawksbill Crag, it is located in the Upper Buffalo Wilderness Area. Take a hike to the point, relish the view, and hang on tight to each other as you fall in love but not over the cliff. Romance is also in the air here if you’re up for a hot air balloon ride over the Buffalo National River. www.nps.gov/buff
  6. Get cozy atop the late 1930s-era Ferris wheel at The Park at West End in Fort Smith. The Ferris wheel was originally built and displayed at the 1935 San Diego World’s Fair. This is its fourth home. This retro amusement park also contains a hand-painted carousel from Italy and a 1963 British Leyland double-decker. A 1957 Pullman dining car serves as a diner. A covered penny arcade and calliope circus wagon add to the nostalgia and enchantment. www.fortsmith.org Park at West End 1
  7. At River Reach Park in historic downtown Helena, stroll hand in hand on the elevated boardwalk that leads to the river’s edge. Mesmerize your mate with a passionate kiss while you watch, in Mark Twain’s words, “the great Mississippi, the majestic, the magnificent Mississippi, rolling its mile-wide tide along, shining in the sun.” www.arkansas.com/attractions
  8. Live racing season at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs began Jan. 15 and runs through April 16. An exciting place to kiss your sweetie is at the finish line as the horses thunder past. Your heart may be racing from more than the kiss if you have a winning ticket in hand. www.oaklawn.com
  9. It’s the view, it’s the setting, it’s the fourth-floor balcony of the 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa in Eureka Springs. Order a beverage from the hotel’s Sky Bar, toast to your love, and seal it with a kiss. Then enjoy looking out over the wooded historic district of this Victorian resort town. www.eurekasprings.org Petit_Jean_cedar falls
  10. Waterfalls are a great backdrop for a caress and a kiss and we have plenty of them in Arkansas. Probably the best-known natural waterfall in the state is Cedar Falls at Petit Jean State Park atop Petit Jean Mountain near Morrilton. This 95-foot gusher spills into Cedar Creek and is accessed via the Cedar Falls Trail, which winds through Cedar Creek Canyon to the “splash down.” You’ll need to take water to wet your whistle. The trip is 2-1/4 miles round-trip and is classified as moderate-to-strenuous. www.petitjeanstatepark.com

by Jill Rohrbach

Lonely Planet announces best places in the U.S. to visit in 2016: NWA #7

Lonely Planet – the world’s leading travel media company – released today its annual list of the top 10 best places to go in the United States in 2016, and we’re excited that Northwest Arkansas comes in at seventh place!

Fayetteville Square

Fayetteville Square

According to the press release, Lonely Planet’s Best in the US 2016 (lonelyplanet.com/best-in-the-us) list is a diverse mix of cities, regions and states across the country that are poised to shine in the year ahead – places often-overlooked, hidden gems and household names with new reasons to visit in 2016. This year, national treasure Philadelphia, Pennsylvania was named number one, followed by the picturesque town of Natchez, Mississippi and the iconic Yellowstone National Park in third place.

Now in its 6th year, Lonely Planet’s Best in the US is a handpicked list selected and ranked by the US-based editors and travel writers at Lonely Planet to point to the top 10 most exciting, intriguing and up-and-coming US destinations worth visiting in the year ahead.

“These are the places to pay attention to in 2016,” said US Destination Editor Rebecca Warren at Lonely Planet. “Whether they’ve been on the public radar for years or are only recently emerging as travel hotspots, each destination offers compelling reasons to visit this year.”

The list is available online at lonelyplanet.com/best-in-the-us, with accompanying articles to each destination. Best in the US 2016 will also be featured in the second edition of the new US Lonely Planet magazine, on newsstands March 24, 2016.

Eureka Springs Historic Downtown

Eureka Springs Historic Downtown

Here’s what Lonely Planet had to say about Northwest Arkansas:

“Northwest Arkansas – ‘Give the Rockies a run for their money.’

With wide open spaces, mountains and crystal blue lakes and rivers, this region also has cultural flare, with towns that are distinctly unique from one another, like Fayetteville – an artsy university city with a vibrant literary scene – and Eureka Springs, which has access to some of the best hiking in the Ozarks.”

by Jill Rohrbach

Trout Unlimited 30th Banquet and Auction is Feb. 12

ARTU514_logoThe 30th annual Conservation Banquet and Auction for Arkansas Trout Unlimited Chapter 514 in Northwest Arkansas is set for Friday, Feb. 12 at the Fayetteville Town Center.

The evening includes a live and silent auction, dinner catered by Spring Street Grill, cash bar, raffle items, and a short awards program. All proceeds help this non-profits group’s conservation efforts for cold water fisheries. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. an dinner begins at 6:30 p.m. Go early to check out the silent and live auction items and to sign up for the raffle.

The raffle includes a Wilderness System kayak with paddle, life vest, and rod holder from Ozark Mountain Trading Company, and a camping package from Cabela’s. Live auction items include guided fishing trips, weekend getaways, artwork, and fishing equipment. The silent auction has home décor items, jewelry, restaurant and massage gift certificates, fishing gear, and more. Some of the fishing equipment to be auctioned includes: a rod, rod holder, and line from Cortland Line Company, and two rods from Rugged Creek Fly Rods.

Tickets are $85 for couples, $50 for single adults, and $20 for a youth tickets (16 and younger). Trophy Tables are also available and come with special reserved seating and commemorative gifts from TU. Rainbow Trout Tables for four are $300 and Brown Trout Tables for eight are $550. Rainbow and Brown Trout tables must be purchased in advanced. Single tickets can be purchased at the door and at McLellan’s Fly Shop in Fayetteville. For advance tickets contact Ron Blackwelder at 713-819-6980.

Arkansas TU Chapter 514 is based in the northwest corner of the state and is one of three active TU chapters located within Arkansas. It has monthly meetings February-May and September-November. Summer break is June-August and winter break is December-January when monthly meetings are not scheduled. However, the chapter holds regional events and tailwaters projects throughout the calendar year. If you are interested in protection, restoration and conservation of the area’s fishable waters, join this group and get involved. Find out more at www.arkansaschaptertu.org.

12th annual Chocolate Lovers Festival

Eureka_Springs_chocolate_loversWhether you’re spending Valentine’s Day with your significant other, family, or friends, the 12th annual Chocolate Lovers Festival in Eureka Springs is the perfect event. The festival will be from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 13 at the Best Western Inn of the Ozarks Convention Center, located at 207 W. Van Buren St.

Your taste buds will be treated to chocolate, candy, cakes, cookies, ice cream, and more. There will also be chocolate novelty items and body products. Numerous vendors – from organic and household brand names to select boutique labels – are on-hand to showcase their products and offer take-home samples.

At this event, VIPs are VICLs (Very Important Chocolate Lovers), and the VICL package includes chocolatiers, multiple dipping fountains, wine parings and tastings with wines provided by Arkansas wineries, and a commemorative wine glass.

The festival also features several contests in both amateur and professional categories that will be judged by celebrity judges.

General admission will be $5 and VICL is $20. For more information, contact Terri Brockelman at terri@eurekaspringschamber.com or 800-638-7352.

by Jill Rohrbach

Chocolate and Bubbly Tour set for Valentine’s Day

Hello Cocoa will hold its annual Chocolate and Bubbly Tour from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 13 at the chocolate factory, located at 4170 W. MLK Boulevard Ste. 2 in Fayetteville.Fayetteville_Chocolate_Bubbly_Tour

Hello Cocoa is a small-batch, bean-to-bar chocolate maker located in Fayetteville. Last year the event brought in 175 locals to enjoy the company’s handmade chocolate bars, chocolate covered strawberries, their European-style hot chocolate, and a romantic Valentine staple, champagne. This year you can also enjoy music and dancing, a photo booth, and factory tours.

The event begins with Hello Cocoa Golden Tickets, which can be found in the company’s chocolate bars sold by retailers throughout Northwest Arkansas. The tickets provide the opportunity for a customer to win prizes ranging from five percent off entry to the Chocolate and Bubbly Tour to free products and free tickets to the event. Golden Tickets can be found in chocolate bars starting mid-January. Current retailers include Mama Carmen’s, Onyx, Arsaga’s, The Fayetteville Visitor’s Center, The Anchor, Blackboard Grocery, and Natural Grocers and Fresh Market in Fayetteville.  The full list of retailers is available on Hello Cocoa’s website homepage.

Hello Cocoa is dedicated to creating some of the finest, tastiest chocolate on the market. Made with only three ingredients, cacao, cocoa butter and sugar, Hello Cocoa bars are available in three signature varieties: 57% Dark Ugandan Cocoa, 70% Dark Dominican Republic Cocoa, and 74% Dark Venezuelan Cocoa.  These three single-origin bars feature distinct flavors drawn from their regional sources.

The company recently teamed up with local coffee shop, Mama Carmen’s, to craft a Mocha bar, becoming Hello Cocoa’s first milk chocolate.  While the bar is true to dark chocolate at 52% cacao, the Mocha bar includes milk and espresso, and is available year-round.  Additionally, for a limited time, their Winter Wonderland bar is also available with dried cherries, orange zest and cacao nibs.

Pre-purchase tickets for the event online at http://www.hellococoachocolate.com/events. For more information, visit hellococoachocolate.com, or follow the company on Facebook (/hellococoachocolate), Twitter (@hello_cocoa) and Instagram (@hellococoachocolate).

by Jill Rohrbach

Black Hearts Ball at Crystal Bridges for Valentine’s Day

Bentonville_Crystal_Bridges_Black_Heart_BallSet aside the box of chocolate and think outside the box when it comes to the standard Valentine’s Day tradition. Head to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville and join artinfusion for its 4th annual Black Hearts Ball: Restless Soul at Crystal Bridges.

You’ll explore the many languages of love with a night of museum adventures, and enjoy music by The Curtis Harding Band, one of Rolling Stone Magazine’s 2014 Top Ten Artists to Watch. You can also groove to dance tunes by popular Dallas-based DJ Jumbii.

Fayetteville’s Paradise Explored Theater Co. will bring artwork to life in the Colonial to Early 19th Century Gallery. Tickets include one complimentary beverage and scrumptious appetizers. A cash bar will be available. After the ball, 21c Museum Hotel invites lovebirds and singles alike to an after-hours dance party hosted by The Hive. Artinfusion members enjoy $5 specialty cocktails.

This event is for ages 21 and up, and an ID is required for entry. Black Hearts Ball is an event for all, but artinfusion members get in FREE. If you sign up as an artinfusion member the night of the event, the museum will waive or refund your ticket fee.

by Jill Rohrbach