Tell us about yourself and what you do for a living?
I am currently attending real estate school. My husband says this is my mid life crisis moment. After being in the tourist and retail industry for many years, I felt I needed a change that would allow me more flexibility in my daily schedule. Keith and I are taking care of our elderly mothers, whom we moved to the Eureka Springs area about three years ago after both of our fathers passed away. Our mothers help out with the diversity weekends, selling t-shirts or taking surveys. I grew up in far western Oklahoma and I worked as a corporate flight attendant for many years prior to moving to Eureka Springs. Keith and I were married on May 14, 2014 by the former Mayor of Eureka Springs. We were the second male couple to be wed in the south.
How long have you been living in Eureka Springs?
Since 2009. I was a “Weekender” before moving here. I was on a contract job in Tulsa Oklahoma and I came to Eureka Springs with some friends to attend the Eureka Gras (Eureka’s version of Mardi Gras). I had not been to Eureka since I was about 15 years old and I found it to be so amazing as an adult, in regards to the beauty, architecture, nightlife and the acceptance of those within the LGBTQ community. I then soon after purchased a small business here. I told my father I had a chance to move to Eureka Springs and my Dad said “If you don’t you’re an idiot”. My parents honeymooned here in 1966 and would spend their anniversaries here.
If you moved from somewhere else, what influenced your decision to move here?
I had the opportunity to buy a business and decided Eureka Springs would be a great fit in my life. I found being a new business owner in Eureka Springs to be amazing. So many other small business owners welcomed me, helped me promote my business and introduced me to other local business owners and community organizations.
What are your favorite places to go for a cocktail and/or dinner?
There are so many great places to have dinner and cocktails that it would be really hard for me to answer this. Eureka Springs has the most award-winning restaurants per capita in the state of Arkansas. It would take a page and half for me to list them all as I have many favorites. We are lucky to live in downtown Eureka Springs and are able to walk to restaurants for dinner or cocktails. We love to get together with friends and bar/ restaurant hop the entire evening and then visit one of the local music venues to wind the evening up.
What cultural attractions are a must see for visitors to Eureka Springs?
For me it would be historic architecture. Many buildings and homes date back to as early as 1865. Another would be the many natural cold-water springs that are located in town. Each spring has a different name and some were used for different needs, such as Laundry Springs or Magnetic springs, where you can place a piece of metal into the water and in about 15 minutes it is magnetized. There is Pivot Rock, which is a natural wonder and is on the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not list. Everyone must visit the “Little Golden Gate Bridge”, it is one of two one-lane suspension bridges left in the state and spans the White River. One of my favorite places to visit or take friends to is Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge. Turpentine Creek rescues large cats, bears, and other animals and places them in a safe, healthy environment.
As the Director of Out in Eureka, what local experiences or annual events would you recommend to visitors?
Eureka Springs is known for its nightlife and live music year round. We have many parades each month for events like Mardi Gras, car shows, and much more. If the wind blows, then Eureka Springs has a parade. Of course with Out in Eureka, I would recommend our three Diversity (Pride) events a year. The name “Pride” was dropped and changed to Diversity as Eureka Springs is an all-accepting city, just not for the LGBTQ community but for all those who are allies or those who wish to express themselves. Diversity events are held the first full weekends of April, August, and November. Eureka Springs is the only city in the US to hold three pride events a year. Our Diversity Weekends are partly funded by the City of Eureka Springs as well as local businesses. I took over Out in Eureka and the Diversity events in the summer of 2017 after the former promoters lost interest. Since then, working with the community, our Diversity Weekends have become better with more venues and businesses participating in events. Entertainers Such as Del Shores, Jimmy James, Lady Bunny, William Belli, and Coco Peru have brought their shows to Eureka Springs for Diversity Weekends. Diversity Weekends in the park, Drag Queen Bingo, and some shows in the auditorium are family friendly.
A friend is coming to Eureka Springs for the first time… Please describe the perfect
First book yourself in a historic hotel or in one of the many beautiful bed and breakfast establishments. Book a spa day. Do a self-guided walking tour around downtown or take the tram history tour. Shop! Shop! Shop! Around 99% of our businesses are “Mom and Pop” owned. Eat! Eat! Eat! Eureka has so many wonderful award winning cafes, and restaurants that you will never starve while you are here. Take a ghost tour of the Crescent hotel & Spa. Eureka Springs has a very relaxed feel, so once you are here just enjoy and let the outside world go away.
What are the best places to truly enjoy the natural beauty of the area?
Inspiration Point Overlook is amazing as it overlooks the White River Valley. Then there is the observation deck at the Crescent Hotel & Spa, which overlooks the city. Everyone should visit Beaver Dam and the Beaver Dam History Park, which overlooks the dam. If you love to hike, bike, or kayak then Lake Leatherwood is the place to do it. You can canoe or kayak down the Kings River or the White River and enjoy the many hiking trails around the area. Eureka springs is sandwiched in between Beaver Lake and Table Rock Lake, connected by the White River and is surrounded by natural beauty from all sides.
What is your favorite time of year in Eureka Springs and why?
I love the spring and fall. In the spring everything comes back to life, the many beautiful trees and plant life and the wildlife, such as deer, start roaming the streets and sidewalks of downtown. In the fall, the trees just explode with brilliant colors bringing in many people from across the country to see the changing of the trees. Anytime is a great time to visit Eureka Springs, but spring and fall are my favorite times.
What’s one souvenir to bring back for friends or family?
Eureka Springs is home to many well-known artists. So bring home a handmade candle, candies, and fudge. Stop by one of the bath shops and grab some handmade soap and oils, or pieces of art from one of the local artists. Every shop is unique in its own way so you will find a perfect gift or souvenir for you or someone special.
Please finish this sentence: Don’t leave Eureka Springs without…
Above all, enjoy yourself and relax. Explore the many springs, the historic architecture, have a wonderful meal, and then take an evening walk through downtown on your way back to your lodging. There is so much to do and enjoy in Eureka Springs that during your visit you will never be bored or hungry. Just enjoy Eureka Springs and the memories that you will take home with you.