Autumn in Arkansas09/23/2016
American journalist Jim Bishop once wrote, “Autumn carries more gold in its pocket than all the other seasons.” And I would argue that autumn in Arkansas carries the most gold of all. Yesterday marked the first official day of the fall season, one of my favorite times of the year. It’s a season for family, football, hunting, pumpkin pie and, most of all, for some of Arkansas’s best festivals.
From Newport to Camden to Bella Vista, Arkansans statewide will be enjoying the season’s cooler weather at craft fairs, car shows and cook-offs.
This fall, take a trip to experience some of Arkansas’s favorite traditions at the 81st Annual Championship Duck Calling Contest in Stuttgart or the 25th Annual Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival. If you’re like me, you’ll enjoy Arkansas’s best local, homegrown tastes when you stop by the Arkansas Championship Hillbilly Chili Cook-off in Bull Shoals or Pumpkin Hollow in Piggott. Whichever corner of the state you visit, you won’t be far from fall fun and Arkansas hospitality.
I’m looking forward to joining in the fun of Arkansas’s fall celebrations this season, too. In a few weeks, I’m heading down to Arkansas’s Delta for the 31st Annual King Biscuit Blues Festival in historic downtown Helena to eat some southern favorites and listen to some of the best blues in the world.
And Arkansas’s Delta isn’t the only part of the state with good food and great blues. This week, Northwest Arkansas is celebrating one of the state’s most famous traditions—Bikes, Blues, and BBQ, the largest motorcycle rally in the U.S. that benefits local charities. Bikes, Blues, and BBQ draws bikers from across the nation to the Ozarks for some of the most beautiful motorcycle riding in the country. Last year, over 400,000 visited Fayetteville, generating an estimated $69-80 million economic impact.
Once more, this goes to show that tourism and economic development are inextricably linked. In 2015, Arkansas hosted more than 28 million visitors who spent $7.2 billion in total travel expenditures, $374 million in state taxes and $137 million in local taxes. Plus, some 120,000 Arkansans work in the tourism and hospitality industry, which is over a billion dollars in payroll.
Autumn is a time of change, but one thing that remains the same year after year is that Arkansas is an outstanding destination for visitors and a one-of-a-kind home for residents. There is no better place to be this fall than in the state of Arkansas.
For more information about fall festivals, events and destinations in The Natural State, visit Arkansas.com.