It’s unavoidable a lot of the time: You’re out of town somewhere at a gathering or a business function with people from all walks of life and from nearly every state, and someone asks you where you’re from. You state you’re from Arkansas and a variety of doors to several different conversations open. Sometimes you’re judged, and sometimes you’re not, for being an Arkansan–but either way there seems to be a lot of curiosity about us out there. These questions are the usual suspects when it comes to following up the ice-breaking question of; “Where are you from?” and you, proud Arkansas resident, have given your response.
15. How's the food?
In a few words, it's good. Perhaps the food here is too good, considering the media keeps hounding us about pesky obesity rates and ranking us first on the list. (Thanks for the attention.) Seriously, though? The food in Arkansas is awesome, and what's great about it (besides there being so much of it,) is that there's a good amount of diversity in the dishes served in both restaurants and homes. Arkansas has become pretty culturally diverse over the past few decades.
14. Don't they have a diamond mine down there?
To answer that question, Arkansas doesn't just have a diamond mine; we have THE diamond mine! The Crater of Diamonds in Murfreesboro is the world's only diamond-bearing site that allows public access. The most recent diamond found, the Esperanza Diamond, is the fifth largest diamond found since 1972!
13. How many hillbillies do you know?
The story of the Arkansas Traveler and the portrayal of Arkansans in the media ever since American papers have been in print has been that of the country bumpkin--so that's inevitably what you'll get asked about from someone who's not from here. (And you can tell they're not from here, because if they were they'd know that the true hillbilly folk culture and customs in Arkansas have to be preserved now, rather than experienced as an actual way of day to day life. I'm proud to say I do know a few of those who are holding down the cultural roots way up in the hills.)
12. Everybody there acts like a bunch of pushy church types, don't they?
If you're not the spiritual type, Arkansas probably isn't the best place for you to live. That's not to say that your personal beliefs will be intruded upon though. Most Arkansans are pretty open-minded to having lively discussions about faith and religion without being too imposing; however, if it offends you to see people devotedly attending at their preferred place of worship, you might want to stay away from the Natural State. We have a great amount of beautiful churches here!
11. What's with that weird "Toad Suck" place?
There are various stories behind the source of the name Toad Suck, but the location indeed exists and much has been made of the strange moniker. The uniqueness of the name has led to great financial success for Arkansas, though. Not only is Toad Suck recognized as one of America's strangest town names, but Toad Suck Daze in Conway, (the nearest actual city to Toad Suck,) has become a popular annual festival that welcomes the summer with fun amphibian-themed activities!
10. How many guns do you own?
The best answer for this is "enough to handle business", but in all seriousness, Arkansas has gained a reputation as a 'gun state' in recent years. The reputation isn't that well-deserved, either, as most Arkansans carry weapons for hunting purposes or property defense. Most residents of this state are pretty well-trained to handle weaponry as well, so if anyone's going to ask this question of us, be armed with the right words!
9. Do you know (insert random Arkansan's name here)?
It's a small world, but it ain't that small. Since Arkansas is still stereotyped as flyover country where everything and everybody seems to be connected somehow, people who aren't from around here tend to assume that the one person or family that they know from Ash Flat is known statewide from Fort Smith to Jonesboro. No, I don't know your former roommate from Harrison, I don't know your boss who grew up in Cabot and I don't know your ex-girlfriend who moved to Smackover. People attach very unfamiliar names to very great places around here.
8. What is there to do in Arkansas, anyway?
It's an entire state. Narrow the question down a little and it's a bit more helpful. You can talk about touristy places such as Little Rock, Fayetteville and Hot Springs, or you can tell others about the lesser known gems around here such as Siloam Springs, Rogers and El Dorado. Once you start talking about the state parks, though--if the listener is an outdoors type--he or she is sold!
7. A lot of people live in trailers down there, right?
Sure, people have to live somewhere, don't they? Manufactured houses aren't an unusual sight around the Natural State, and there's no shame in having lived in one. I speak from experience; living in a mobile home beats not having anything at all! Plus, once you get that bad boy anchored properly with nice skirting add yourself a well-built (and properly treated) deck in front or in back--and you've got yourself an alright dwelling!
6. How come you don't sound like you're from Arkansas?
We're not a part of the deep South and many confuse Arkansas as belonging to that region. A lot of out of towners are confused as to why a lot of Arkansans-- especially the younger generation who have been introduced to several different cultures and dialects--sound like any other person from Oklahoma, Missouri or Tennessee. As you head to the hills of the Ozarks, or to the southern part of the state near the Delta, you'll hear more of a pronounced Southern accent--but younger Arkansans who live in urbanized areas have a less pronounced rural dialect, (unless they're trying to turn on the charm.)
5. Do you like the Duggars?
This is like asking someone from New Jersey if they like the cast of Jersey Shore. Sure, usually when someone from Arkansas is on a television show, we tend to rally behind it until they give us good citizens fair reason to believe we've been duped into thinking a big family on TV deserved anybody's attention just for being a big family on TV. To be honest, I clearly dislike the Duggars and personally think they do nothing for this state's good name. However, they still have their supporters from around here, anyway...even though nobody really brags too much about it.
4. Are there still gangs in Little Rock like from that HBO documentary in the '90s?
Short answer: Yes. Long answer: The culture and scope of street gangs in the capital city has changed tremendously, and the territorial areas are slightly different than what you see in the 1994 documentary "Bangin' In Little Rock." The areas shown in the documentary have largely been gentrified, but the violence has moved farther east and southwest in Little Rock, and to other cities such as North Little Rock and Pine Bluff.
3. So you're a Razorback fan, right?
I say if you're from around here, you're a Razorback fan by default. Of course, there are those Arkansans who would disagree because they don't like sports or they don't like the Razorbacks. (Bless your heart at work or school on game days around here if that's your case.) And some folks who live here just feel like being ornery for the sake of it and saying they're a LSU fan. We all get along for the most part, regardless!
2. Did you vote for Clinton?
Whether you say yes or no, you're going to be marked as "that one from Clinton territory" by certain people. That goes for forward thinkers, as well, (the out of towners who ask if you're a Hillary voter.) It's no wonder the "Don't Blame Me, I Voted For Bush" bumper stickers were so popular in the '90s. Many Arkansans didn't feel like having a full conversation of inevitable political discourse after their licence plate was spotted--they just sported their opinion via their vehicles.
1. Do you support Huckabee?
Whether you say yes or no, you're going to be marked as "that one from Huckabee territory" by certain people...and that's the beauty(?) of politics and being from a political hotbed like the great state of Arkansas!
I know these can’t be the only crazy questions that people from around here get asked. Sound off in the comments about the silly curiosities people from out of town have about the great state of Arkansas!