2019 Governor’s Arts Award presented today

Governor Asa Hutchinson and the Arkansas Arkansas Council are presenting the 2019 Governor’s Arts Awards today in a lunchtime ceremony at the Arkansas Governor’s Mansion.

This year’s recipients are:

  • Arts Community Development Award-Steve Clark, Fort Smith
  • Arts in Education Award – The Center for Children and Youth, Fayetteville
  • Corporate Sponsorship of the Arts Award – Murphy USA, El Dorado
  • Folklife Award – Oxford American, Little Rock
  • Individual Artist Award – Marjorie Williams-Smith, Little Rock
  • Judges Recognition Award – Anthony Tidwell, Hot Springs
  • Patron Award – Jim and Joyce Faulkner, Little Rock
  • Lifetime Achievement Award – Billie Jo Starr, Fayetteville

In addition to videos highlighting each of the awardees and acceptance speeches, the program will feature remarks by Governor Hutchinson, Department of Arkansas Heritage Director Stacy Hurst and Arkansas Arts Council Director Patrick Ralston.

The recipients will each be presented with a custom made earthenware jar made by Springdale artist Gailen Hudson.

 

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2019 Arkansas Food Hall of Fame ceremony tonight

The 2019 Arkansas Food Hall of Fame ceremony takes place at the CALS Ron Robinson Theater tonight (February 25).

The 2019 Arkansas Food of the Year is Catfish. Not only is it a staple in many restaurants throughout the state, it is also a major contributor to the state’s economy.

Last month, the finalists in four of the five categories were announced. The fifth, the People’s Choice Award, goes to the entity that received the most nomination submittals. It will be announced, along with the winners in the other categories tonight.

The finalists in the other four categories are:

Food Hall of Fame
AQ Chicken House (Springdale)
4-Dice Restaurant (Fordyce)
Bruno’s Little Italy (Little Rock)
Burge’s Restaurant (Lewisville)
Craig Brothers Cafe aka Craig’s (De Valls Bluff)
Doe’s Eat Place (Little Rock)
Keeney’s Food Market (Malvern)
Kream Kastle (Blytheville)
The Ohio Club (Hot Springs)
Star of India (Little Rock)

Proprietor of the Year
Capi Peck, Little Rock (Trio’s)
Loretta Tacker, Marion (Tacker’s Shake Shack)
Peter Brave, Little Rock (Brave New Restaurant)
Sami Lal, Little Rock (Star of India)
Scott McGehee, Little Rock (Yellow Rocket Concepts restaurants)

Food Themed Event
Hope Watermelon Festival
International Greek Food Festival (Little Rock)
Our Lady of the Lake Annual Church Spaghetti Dinner (Lake Village)
Tontitown Grape Festival
World Championship Duck Gumbo Cook Off (Stuttgart)

Gone But Not Forgotten
Klappenbach Baker (Fordyce)
La Scala Italian Restaurant (Little Rock)
Mary Maestri’s Italiano Grillroom (Springdale)
The Shack Barbecue (Little Rock)
Uncle John’s (Crawfordsville)

The Arkansas Food Hall of Fame is a project of the Department of Arkansas Heritage.  The members of the Arkansas Food Hall of Fame Committee are:

  • Paul Austin
  • Swanee Bennett
  • Yvette Brady
  • Chip Culpepper
  • Montine McNulty
  • Dr. Cindy Grisham
  • Tim Horton
  • Rex Nelson
  • Tim Nutt
  • Dr Wendy Richter
  • Kat Robinson
  • Christina Shutt

2019 Arkansas Food Hall of Fame Finalists announced

The 2019 Arkansas Food Hall of Fame finalists were announced today (January 10) at the Department of Arkansas Heritage headquarters.

This year, the Hall of Fame’s third, over 600 nominations were received in the five categories.  (The first year there were 300 nominations received and last year 450 nominations were submitted.)

As Department of Arkansas Heritage Director Stacy Hurst noted, “The number of nominations confirms that people are indeed opinionated about their food.”  She continued, “Food is woven into our culture and our heritage.”

The 2019 Arkansas Food of the Year is Catfish. Not only is it a staple in many restaurants throughout the state, it is also a major contributor to the state’s economy.

The finalists in four of the five categories were announced. The fifth, the People’s Choice Award, goes to the entity that received the most nomination submittals. It will be announced, along with the winners in the other categories, at the Arkansas Food Hall of Fame ceremony on Monday, February 25 at the CALS Ron Robinson Theater.

The finalists in the other four categories are:

Food Hall of Fame
AQ Chicken House (Springdale)
4-Dice Restaurant (Fordyce)
Bruno’s Little Italy (Little Rock)
Burge’s Restaurant (Lewisville)
Craig Brothers Cafe aka Craig’s (De Valls Bluff)
Doe’s Eat Place (Little Rock)
Keeney’s Food Market (Malvern)
Kream Kastle (Blytheville)
The Ohio Club (Hot Springs)
Star of India (Little Rock)

Proprietor of the Year
Capi Peck, Little Rock (Trio’s)
Loretta Tacker, Marion (Tacker’s Shake Shack)
Peter Brave, Little Rock (Brave New Restaurant)
Sami Lal, Little Rock (Star of India)
Scott McGehee, Little Rock (Yellow Rocket Concepts restaurants)

Food Themed Event
Hope Watermelon Festival
International Greek Food Festival (Little Rock)
Our Lady of the Lake Annual Church Spaghetti Dinner (Lake Village)
Tontitown Grape Festival
World Championship Duck Gumbo Cook Off (Stuttgart)

Gone But Not Forgotten
Klappenbach Baker (Fordyce)
La Scala Italian Restaurant (Little Rock)
Mary Maestri’s Italiano Grillroom (Springdale)
The Shack Barbecue (Little Rock)
Uncle John’s (Crawfordsville)

The members of the Arkansas Food Hall of Fame Committee are:

  • Paul Austin
  • Swanee Bennett
  • Yvette Brady
  • Chip Culpepper
  • Montine McNulty
  • Dr. Cindy Grisham
  • Tim Horton
  • Rex Nelson
  • Tim Nutt
  • Dr Wendy Richter
  • Kat Robinson
  • Christina Shutt

Little Rock Look Back: LR’s first government created

Little Rock started functioning as the capital of Arkansas in June 1821. But by 1825 the settlement known as Little Rock was little more than a loosely defined group of structures. One hundred and ninety-three years ago today, on October 27, 1825,Territorial Governor George Izard signed legislation which started establishing a framework for Little Rock to function as a city.

It established that Little Rock citizens could elect a board of trustees to decide matters. Those trustees would choose one of their own to be a presiding officer. Though Little Rock would not be officially incorporated until 1831, this was the first step towards incorporation. The first trustees, elected for 1826, were Robert Crittenden, Joseph Henderson, Nicholas Peay, Bernard Smith and Isaac Watkins. Smith was chosen to be the presiding officer.

Crittenden had been largely responsible for the relocation of the capitol to Little Rock, where he owned a lot of land. He was a major political force in Arkansas politics during the territorial days. Watkins was a nephew of a signer of the Declaration of Independence. He had established the first tavern in Little Rock in 1821 and later he first mill in 1826. He was murdered in 1827 and the perpetrator was never captured.

Peay bought the tavern from Watkins in 1826 and continued in the tavern and hotel business the rest of his life. He later served on the Little Rock City Council and was acting mayor. His son Gordon Neill Peay served as Mayor of Little Rock. The Peay family also cofounded Worthen Bank and Christ Episcopal Church. Members of several branches of Mr. Peay’s descendants including the Worthen and Hurst families remain active in Little Rock affairs.

Little Rock Look Back: Robinson Center closes in preparation for Second Act

On July 1, 2014, Robinson Center Music Hall closed so that renovations could commence.  Instead of having a groundbreaking ceremony, Gretchen Hall and LRCVB arranged for a “stage breaking.”  Slats from the stage flooring were pried up with crowbars.

Twenty-eight months later, Robinson Center reopened on-time and on-budget.

(As a side note:  the Culture Vulture announced the countdown before Governor Mike Beebe and various Little Rock leaders used their crowbars for the first breaking of the stage flooring.)

Here are some photos from that ceremony.

Little Rock Look Back: Major Nicholas Peay

On April 28, 1784, in Virginia, future Little Rock Alderman (and acting Mayor) Major Nicholas Peay was born the eleventh of at least thirteen children.  (His gravestone lists a May date for his birth, but all other records indicate April 28, 1784.) A veteran of the War of 1812 and the Indian Wars, he later moved to Kentucky (where he met and married his wife, Juliet Neill, in 1814) before settling in Arkansas on September 18, 1825.  At the time, they were the ninth family to set up residence in Little Rock.

After arriving in Little Rock, he bought the Little Rock Tavern. This started a fifty year tradition of his family owning taverns and hotels in Little Rock. In 1828, he was appointed Assistant Postmaster of Little Rock.  From 1825 to 1831, Little Rock residents were allowed to elect five Trustees prior to the formal incorporation. Major Peay was one of those who served on the Board of Trustees.

He later served on the Little Rock City Council, and in 1839 served for seven months as Acting Mayor due to the prolonged absence of Mayor Jesse Brown.  In 1841, his friend Gen. Zachary Taylor, paid a visit to Little Rock and stayed with him on the General’s way to Fort Smith.

Nicholas and Juliet Peay had at least eleven children, though only five appeared to have lived until adulthood. One of those, Gordon Neill Peay, served as Little Rock’s 23rd Mayor from 1859 to 1861. Other descendants of Nicholas Peay who followed him into public service include his grandson Ashley Peay, who was an Alderman in the 1920s (son of John Coleman Peay) and great-great-grandson Joseph B. Hurst (a great-grandson of Mayor Peay), who was a City Director from 1967 to 1970. In addition, City Director Hurst’s daughter-in-law, Stacy Hurst served three terms on the City Board from 2003 to 2014; she is now Director of the Department of Arkansas Heritage.

Major Peay’s egg-nog recipe has been passed down for generations. It is the inspiration for the Historic Arkansas Museum yearly Nog-Off.  Retired HAM director Bill Worthen and his daughter are the sixth and seventh generation of the family to make Peay’s egg-nog.

Major Nicholas Peay is buried with his wife and many other family members in Mount Holly Cemetery.

The Smithsonian Institution records indicate they have an oil painting of Major Peay as well as of his wife. But there are conflicting records as to whether they have been lost or are in private collections.

Little Rock Look Back: Robinson Center closes for renovation

On July 1, 2014, Robinson Center Music Hall closed so that renovations could commence.  Instead of having a groundbreaking ceremony, Gretchen Hall and LRCVB arranged for a “stage breaking.”  Slats from the stage flooring were pried up with crowbars.

Twenty-eight months later, Robinson Center reopened on-time and on-budget.

(As a side note:  the Culture Vulture announced the countdown before Governor Mike Beebe and various Little Rock leaders used their crowbars for the first breaking of the stage flooring.)

Here are some photos from that ceremony.