Little Rock Culture Vulture

Cultural events, places and people in the Little Rock area


Little Rock Look Back: Grant in Little Rock (but not the Capital Hotel elevator)

On April 15, 1880, former president Ulysses S. Grant spoke in Little Rock as part of his world tour. While here he made a couple of appearances and participated in a parade. It was Grant’s first visit to Arkansas either as a soldier or a politician.

At his outdoor speech, his remarks followed brief comments by Governor William R. Miller and Mayor John Gould Fletcher (erroneously referred to as John C. Fletcher in the Memphis Appeal story the next day). Grant’s comments were brief and flowery. He thanked Arkansans for a warm welcome, praised the future prospects of Arkansas and discussed the demise of what he termed “sectionalism” which was undoubtedly a reference to the division between the Union and and former Confederate states.

Also that day, Grant addressed a banquet in Concordia Hall (now part of the Arkansas Studies Institute complex on the Central Arkansas Library downtown campus). His was one of fifteen toasts that evening. It was simply “The United States of America, forever United.” He expounded briefly on the theme of unity of citizens from all states. He also discussed immigration noting, “All foreigners find a welcome here. We make them American citizens. After we receive them, it is but one generation until they are Americans.” He noted that he could speak much more on the topic, but that since he was but one of fifteen toasts and that there was to be music after each toast, “It will be to-morrow (sic) morning when we get through if we all take as much time as the subjects admit of.”

Not everyone was thrilled to have the former commander of the Union Army in Little Rock. The story goes that when he was parading down the street, some Little Rock women (in a display of Souther un-hospitality) sat in chairs with their backs to the parade route. But all in all, it appears to have been a successful visit for the man who was the only Republican in the 19th Century to win Arkansas’ Electoral votes.Grant arrived in Little Rock on the night of April 14 and lodged at the Capital Hotel. He undoubtedly enjoyed some whiskey and cigars while at the Capital. Grant had originally planned on departing in the afternoon of April 15, but Little Rock leaders pled with him to stay so that he could be honored at the banquet. He assented.

Incidentally, there is an urban myth that, while in Little Rock, General Grant rode his horse in the oversized elevator of the Capital Hotel.  This is a relatively recent story. The oversized elevator was not installed until the 1980s, over 100 years after Gen. Grant was a guest of the facility.

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1st ever winners of 12th Ever Nog-Off

thnogoff_tstHistoric Arkansas Museum’s 12th Ever Nog Off was Friday, December 9.
The winners have been announced.
The Judges were: Alexia Elichiryof Vive la Vieradio and De Nux Distributors, LLC, Becky Falkowski of Downtown Little Rock Partnership and Amy Kelley Bell of South on Main. Their favorite nog was the Capital Hotel Eggnog by Matthew Dunn and Ben Edwards, The Capital Hotel
The nog that got the most votes from the public was also Capital Hotel Eggnog by Matthew Dunn and Ben Edwards, The Capital Hotel.

The Not Your Great, Great, Great Grandfather’s Eggnog Award (a nod to Nicholas Peay’s place in the family of longtime museum director Bill Worthen, who makes Peay’s recipe each year) is given to the best unconventional nog.  The public voted for St. Elizabeth’s Spiked Nog by Elizabeth Strandberg of Loblolly Creamery and Seth Barlow of O’Looney’s Wine & Liquor


12th EVER Nog Off at Historic Arkansas Museum Tonight

thnogoff_tstHistoric Arkansas Museum is home to the first ever, original Nog-off, a culinary celebration of a favorite holiday drink, and friendly competition for the best eggnog in town. The 12th Ever Nog-off welcomes old friends and new friends to this tasty and unique contest.

Among the new challengers are Luiggi Uzcategui of Big Orange Midtown, Merrick Fagan of Trio’s Restaurant and Dillon Garcia of Arkansas Mixology Associates. Will they take down last year’s returning champs, Rock City Eats and Stone’s Throw/Marriott Hotel? Or the Capital Hotel who holds 3 wins? Or Bill Worthen, whose family has been making Egg Nog with the same recipe for eight generations? Taste for yourself and make sure your vote gets counted!

Rex Deloney’s Eclectic Color: Diverse Colors for a Diverse World is inspired by the many different thoughts, emotions and people that he has portrayed over the years as a figurative artist.The emotionally driven portraits juxtaposed on colorful abstract backgrounds work together to convey messages of hope, faith and the everyday joys and struggles of life.

This exhibit is curated by the Arkansas Arts Council and continues in the SECOND FLOOR GALLERY through March 5, 2017.

…plus, holiday shopping in the Museum Store

  • Show your love of all things Nog with this t-shirt designed to commemorate our Nog Off, available exclusively online or in our Museum Store.
  • Get a signed book, for yourself or a gift: Rex Nelson, author of Southern Fried: Going Whole Hog in a State of Wonder will be in the store from 5 to 6:30, and Frances Mitchell Ross, will be on hand to sign copies of United States District Courts and Judges of Arkansas, 1836-1960.
  • Shop #ArkansasMade with Little Rock artist Jann Greenland, who will be showcasing her newest jewelry and fused glass work.


Kick of the Christmas Season at the Capital Hotel

2016-cap-hotel-treeOn the day after Thanksgiving, the Culture Vulture goes to the Capital Hotel to see the Christmas tree arrive and be erected.  This year’s tree is 34 feet tall. It very nearly touches the stained glass ceiling in the Capital Hotel lobby.

Over the weekend, the busy elves of Tipton Hurst work to get the tree decorated in time for the treelighting festivities.

Tonight (Monday, November 28) Santa makes his first 2016 appearance in downtown Little Rock for the annual Christmas Tree Lighting!

The Capital Hotel will be roasting chestnuts, enjoying Christmas cookies and sipping on hot chocolate and our famous eggnog. The festivities begin at 5:00pm with the tree lighting at 6:30pm.

There will be music, merriment, and more.


2016 Arkansas Literary Festival dates and lineup announced

ALF 2016_textPrestigious award-winners, screenwriters, comedians, an expert witness, artists, and a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet are among the diverse roster of presenters who will be providing sessions at the thirteenth annual Arkansas Literary Festival, April 14-17, 2016. The Central Arkansas Library System’s Main Library campus and many other Little Rock venues are the sites for a stimulating mix of sessions, panels, special events, performances, workshops, presentations, opportunities to meet authors, book sales, and book signings. Most events are free and open to the public.
     The Arkansas Literary Festival, the premier gathering of readers and writers in Arkansas, will include more than 80 presenters including featured authors from approximately 24 different states and guests hailing from Canada, England, Russia, and Singapore. Each year, several of the attending authors have not visited Little Rock, Arkansas, or even the South.
     Presenters come from a wide range of backgrounds including: journalist, documentary filmmaker, economist, editor, microbiologist, national bank examiner, essayist, photographer, sports reporter, psychological examiner, musician, actress, reporter, and professor. One is co-producing Keanu Reeves’ new television show and writing an adaptation of his own book for Warner Bros. and Bradley Cooper.
     Special events for adults during the Festival include a cocktail reception with the authors, a tour of the Governor’s Mansion gardens with a wine and cheese reception, an escape room, and Readers’ Map of Arkansas launch party. Panels and sessions include genres and topics such as literary fiction, barbecue, Monopoly, female rocket scientists, travel, graphic novels, science fiction, classic literature, and a story told in playing cards.
     Children’s special events include a session by Nikki Grimes, activity hour, concert by the Kinders, and the play How the Camel Got His Hump. based on Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories. Festival sessions for children will take place at both the Hillary Rodham Clinton Children’s Library and Learning Center, 4800 10th Street, and the Youth Services Department at the Main Library, 100 Rock Street. Special events for teens include North Little Rock High School Readers Theater, a teen poetry competition, and a panel with three authors of books for young adults.
     Through the Writers In The Schools (WITS) initiative, the Festival will provide presentations by several authors for central Arkansas elementary, middle, and senior high schools and area colleges.
     Author! Author!, a cocktail reception with the authors, will be Friday, April 15, at 7 p.m. Tickets are $25 in advance and $40 at the door, and go on sale at ArkansasLiteraryFestival.org beginning Monday, March 15.
     This year’s Festival authors have won an impressive number and variety of distinguished awards and fellowships including: Pulitzer Prize, James Beard Award, PEN/Hemingway Award, Hugo Award, Coretta Scott King Award, Will Eisner Comic Industry Award, National Book Foundation “5 Under 35” Honoree, Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award, Dashiell Hammett Prize, Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Selection, National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, Fulbright Fellowship, Guggenheim Fellowship, Houghton Mifflen Literary Fellowship, Arkansas Arts Council Fellowship.
     The work of this year’s Festival authors has been featured in notable publications including: New York Times, Details, McSweeney’s Quarterly, Forbes, the Paris Review, theHuffington Post, Women’s Health, Gourmet Magazine, the New Republic, the Los Angeles Times, Smithsonian, the Daily Telegraph UK, VICE, the New Yorker, Harper’s, the Atlantic, Slate, Time, Popular Science, Salon, the Best American Travel Writing, Outside Magazine, Esquire, USA Today, Reader’s Digest, Best American Essays, Best American Short Stories, Penthouse, the Nation, Best American Poetry, the Washington Post, Town & Country, the Economist, the Christian Science Monitor, National Geographic, the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Rolling Stone, GQ, Sports Illustrated, and Vogue
     The Literary Festival is presented by the Central Arkansas Library System. Sponsors include Arkansas Humanities Council, Friends of Central Arkansas Library System (FOCAL), Clinton Presidential Center, Fred K. Darragh Jr. Foundation, KUAR FM 89.1, ProSmartPrinting.com, Rebsamen Fund, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Arkansas Times, Gibbs Elementary School, Hendrix-Murphy Foundation Programs in Literature and Language, MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History, Museum of Discovery, Otter Creek Elementary School, UALR Department of English, Windstream, Arkansas Library Association, Christ Episcopal Church, East Harding Construction, Hampton Inn, Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Educational Center, Henderson State University, Hendrix College Project Pericles Program, University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service, Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center, Greater Little Rock Council of Garden Clubs, Capital Hotel, City of Little Rock, Et Alia Press, Consulate General of Israel to the Southwest, Literacy Action of Central Arkansas, Mayor Mark Stodola, Mollie Savage Memorial/CALS, North Little Rock High School, Plum Street Publishers, Inc., Pyramid Art Books & Custom Framing/Hearne Fine Art, Sibling Rivalry Press, Stickyz Rock ‘N’ Roll Chicken Shack, UALR Department of Rhetoric and Writing, and Whole Hog. The Arkansas Literary Festival is supported in part by funds from the Arkansas Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
     The Festival’s mission is to encourage the development of a more literate populace. A group of dedicated volunteers assists Festival Coordinator Brad Mooy with planning the Festival. Committee chairs include Kevin Brockmeier, Talent Committee; Susan Santa Cruz, Festival Guides; and Amy Bradley-Hole, Moderators.
     Visit the Festival Facebook and Twitter pages to get the latest news about the Festival. For more information about the 2016 Arkansas Literary Festival, visit ArkansasLiteraryFestival.org, or contact Brad Mooy at bmooy@cals.org or 918-3098. For information on volunteering at the Festival, contact Angela Delaney at adelaney@cals.org or 918-3095.


Free performance by ASO Rockefeller Quartet at the Capital Hotel this evening at 5:15

ASO at CHMusicians from the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra will be performing this evening (January 13) in the lobby of the historic Capital Hotel. The music will start at 5:15 pm.

The concert will feature the Rockefeller Quartet.  Members of the quartet will introduce the pieces to be performed.

The Rockefeller Quartet will perform an eclectic program featuring tangos, Scott Joplin Rags, selections from Beethoven and Borodin, and even a popular surprise.

Unlike concerts in music halls, guests here are encouraged to bring drinks to their seats or to stand and move around while the musicians are playing.  It is a relaxed, informal atmosphere where the audience and musicians alike are able to interact with each other.

In 2011, the ASO started these free concerts in the lobby of the Capital Hotel.  The marble and tile of this historic lobby provide a wonderful acoustic backdrop for the musicians.


11th EVER Historic Arkansas Museum Nog-Off tonight

thnogoff_tstWhat began as a spirited and good-natured rivalry between the offspring of two longtime Little Rock families has given birth to one of the most anticipated holiday events of each year.

Get in the holiday spirit with Historic Arkansas Museum’s 11th Ever Nog-off, a culinary celebration of a favorite holiday drink and friendly competition for the best eggnog in town. Guests will also enjoy a new exhibit by Arkansas artist Ray Parker, holiday shopping in the Museum Store, roasted pecans in the Brownlee kitchen, caroling and storytelling around a fire pit on the museum’s historic grounds. Music will be provided by Heather Smith.

This year’s 11th Ever Nog-off will be judged by Capi Peck (Trio’s), Scott McGehee (Yellow Rocket Concepts) and Marcella Dalla Rosa who won the opportunity to judge this popular competition at Historic Arkansas Museum’s 20th Candlelight Gala

Noggers:
One Eleven at the Capital Hotel
Cache Restaurant
Loblolly Creamery
Bill Worthen
Stone’s Throw/Heritage Grille
John Selig and Leah Elenzweig
Rock City Eats featuring Chef Ken Dempsey and Greg Henderson

Each year, HAM announces a Nogger Emerita who has won this competition too many times!
This year’s Nogger Emerita is Bridget Fennell Farris! She has been a fierce Nog-off competitor with her famous “John Robert Jackson’s Egg-nog”

Ray Parker
Ray Parker is an oil painter from Fayetteville whose subject matter focuses on human portraiture in a style that is both naturalistic and expressive. Parker’s intimate portrayal of the human form intends “to address both the timeless and temporal character of life, I place my subjects in contexts that allow me to investigate their emotional and psychological nature …”