Weekend Update, It's October?

It's like all of a sudden, I woke up, there were UGG boots and white girls with pumpkin spice lattes in hand. It's October? Didn't summer just get here? Regardless of your opinion on all things pumpkin spiced, I couldn't be more excited that the fall season is here. It's like something comes alive in me when the leaves and temperature drop. I feel way more productive, does that happen to anyone else?

One of my favorite things to do when fall hits is eat. Only natural right? This past weekend was nothing short of exactly that. For all you Fort Smithians that like to eat, I'm going to share my top 5 places to eat when the weather drops. Personally, I live by the philosophy the more butter, the better. Maybe it's because my southern heritage runs deep? Oh no, is butter the next thing to go? Take my flag, but please don't take my butter! Woah, I digress. (please note, I'm not a southern heritage radical)

Without further to-do, my top five Fort Smith restaurants to visit when fall hits:

#5 Calico County

Calico County is a Fort Smith favorite. If you've lived in Fort Smith more than a year, odds are you have heard and/or eaten there. They are famous for their cinnamon rolls that I can never eat just one of. My other personal favorites include Chicken Fried Chicken and anything that their gravy goes on. This isn't for the faint of heart. I'm just guessing here but it's probably pushing a few thousand calories per meal. The ultimate in southern comfort is at Calico County.

#4 Joe's Pizza & Pasta

Coming in at the only Italian comfort food option on the list is Joe's. Joe's is one of those you feel like family when you sit down to eat. It's my go-to pasta place when I need some good comfort Italian food. I'm a bit traditional when it comes to Italian food, I stick to chicken alfredo. This isn't your Olive Garden alfredo however. It's packed full of flavor unlike some alfredo dishes. If you haven't been to Joe's give it a try. They have incredible pizza's as well.

#3 MovieLounge

You might not guess why MovieLounge is on my comfort food list and I'll get to that in a second, but first let's talk atmosphere. Set foot in the doors and be transported to an upscale hotel in the heart of NYC. MovieLounge has a signature environment that I prefer to enjoy 4-5 times a month, and yes, I'm being serious. When the temperature drops and layers start being added to my wardrobe, I'm off to MovieLounge. It's the perfect place to enjoy a beverage, see a movie, or for the exact reason they are #3 on my comfort food list, dessert. If you're in need of a gourmet crafted dessert that will fill your heart full of fall, MovieLounge has it.

#2 Cheddar's

Ok, I know, I know - don't kill me. It's a chain restaurant. But when it's snowing outside and the temps are in the 20's, all I want is some baked potato soup and some buffalo chicken wrappers. Judge me if you want, but this is one of the few chain restaurants you'll find me at in Fort Smith. Their staff is great and the food quality is consistent every time.

#1 Benson's

Without a doubt, hands down, my most absolute favorite fall comfort food – Benson's. You've probably heard rave reviews of this Fort Smith classic, but until you've experienced yourself, you're missing out. My history with Benson's goes back to my high school days. I personally prefer Benson's early in the morning or late at night. It's the perfect atmosphere to people watch (or weather watch) while eating your weight in all of its amazingness.

There you have it. Odds are, you'll find me at each of these establishments weekly. So drop in and have a cup of coffee, dessert, or a drink. I'll be there.

Best of luck this week!


The Spark

This past weekend (July 31 - August 2) Fort Smith, AR hosted the inaugural Peacemaker Music & Arts Fest. Fort Smith has had several different music festivals in its time but this one was different.  No, it wasn't filled with mainstream headliners or record setting crowds but it was put together for a purpose. This was one of those "you needed to be there" type of things. The energy, the atmosphere, the feeling – it was completely different than anything we've had in Fort Smith. It was fresh, and it was forward. I'm paralleling this with the movement with within our community right now. It seems like everywhere I look there is development. To my readers who aren't from Fort Smith, I'm sorry – bare with me for a second. I've recently been reading Bill Backer's book The Care and Feeding of Ideas. Bill was the creative director for the famous 1971 'Hilltop' Ad. He mentions something very unique in the opening of his book about ideas:

“There are millions of people who try each day to keep things moving in a positive direction. That means they have to harness the power of ideas. These people need simple, workday, easy-to-use definitions. In modern parlance, you might say they need to have “basic idea” and “executional idea,” or “substance” and “style,” made use-friendly.
So I respectfully submit the following pair of definitions:
- A basic idea is an abstract answer to a perceived desire or need.
- An executional idea is a rendering in words, symbols, sounds, color, shapes, forms, or any combination thereof, of an abstract answer to a perceived desire or need. ”

In my opinion, Peacemaker was an executional idea that a group of talented people came together to produce and execute. It was an incredible experience and I cannot wait until next year.

With all that said, Fort Smith is formulating so many amazing executional idea – we need more people to start executing them.

Now that's out of the way, how about some recap photos?

Jason Isbell headlined on Friday night and KILLED the stage. It was amazing!

Saturday evening started off with these guys, Red Wanting Blue. It was a great performance and I've been listening to their album since I saw them on stage. They are my new favorite.

Corey Smith band took the stage that evening, I'm really not a country guy, but he was fun to see.

Chris Robinson Brotherhood headlined on Saturday night, let me tell ya, I've never heard of these guys before and I couldn't stop dancing. Excuse my terminology but groovy is the appropriate word.

All images Copyright Shane Gray Photography, Shot for Mason Kesner Blog