It’s different when you’re born in Little Rock and later move to the outskirts of Saline County…and have to take a bus to school into Grant County. There were relatives I had from town who engaged with me in stilted conversation on holidays and at gatherings because we had very little common ground other than blood in those days. (I was considered ‘country’ and the culture was different despite being only a 40 minute drive away from Little Rock. That’s how easy it is to get from big town to small town in Arkansas.) It’s also very easy to distinguish small town residents from city dwellers, too. Small town Arkansas people can be amazingly cool for many reasons.
10. The local culture stays alive.
The bigger the city, the more diverse it is. That's never a bad thing, but it's also good to remember your roots. It's easy for small town Arkansans to hold fast to their local flavor, favorite pastimes, and traditions passed down to descendants who still live in the area.
9. The local clubs are a reliable hand of assistance.
I've said before about how small town high school clubs are so great because of how much actually gets done in the way of community service. The civic organizations in small towns are the exact same way on a larger scale. If it's for the good of the town, these clubs will make sure it gets done properly.
8. The help you get from community services is quality.
In addition to the well-known civic organizations and clubs in small towns, you see a lot more community outreach because of the close neighborly bond. Families in need have found themselves on the road to stability thanks to the strong support system you'll find in an Arkansas small town.
7. Some of the recipes shared really are family secrets.
Food lovers and kitchen artists come in grand supply all around Arkansas's small towns. It's not unusual (and quite fun) to see baking competitions--sometimes between church members or neighborhood friends. Having been privy to a very entertaining cooking circle of friends, I can tell you I've tasted cobbler crust that I'm still trying to replicate. However, the family from which the recipe originates all live in the same town...and absolutely no one is giving up the info on how that crust is so fluffy and cookie-like. No reason to give away blue-ribbon information that wins prizes at local fairs!
6. The bonds people share are stronger.
You see your neighbors everywhere you go in a small town, so you can't go very long without talking to them. After a while long-standing friendships are formed just out of the habit of being so accessible to others in the area. On the flip side of that, life-long grudges can be made and held. But still, you know what they say about good fences and all. That sentiment truly applies in a small town.
5. The festivals are an absolute blast!
Come on, Riverfest is nice but who wants to deal with the crowd? What's great about small town Arkansas festivals (such as the Hope Watermelon Festival pictured above) is that you can actually have a good time without feeling like you're literally stepping on somebody's toes. Not to say these small-town festivals don't have their share of visitors ; you'll still have long food lines for the exceptional chow, but you won't feel like you're waiting forever for a corn dog at the State Fair. Less of a crowd at a small-town gathering though? You'll always have a much more fun festival experience.
4. The churches are an excellent support base.
Local clubs and civic organizations take care of a lot of residents in a small town, but churches are the first contact for many when it comes to reaching out to find help. In a small Arkansas town, the call to action is swift with numerous congregations when helping others. Communication is probably the fastest it's ever been now that we live in an age of instant communication. Once you've situated yourself in a welcoming place of worship, you've got help when you need it.
3. You stay true to your school forever.
When you graduate from a big school like Central it's cool because the name is recognizable to everybody and there's alumni everywhere. Yet when you graduate from a small town school, it's even better. The joy you feel is awesome when finding out someone not only knows about but attended the same little school as you. Bonus points to every small town high school graduate that remembers all the words to their school song.
2. The pride in a small town runs very deep.
Nobody wants travelers to pass through your little town and say it looked like a nowhere place. Small towns in Arkansas do very well in styling themselves and keeping things pretty, seasonally decorating the downtown areas and Main Streets. Anyone driving through these towns will find well-trimmed neighborhood lawns where everyone still watches out for one another.
1. The charm is very real and quite natural.
Little magical locales like Eureka Springs and Fairfield Bay didn't just get branded as 'charming' after some sort of huge revamping that transformed the towns. No gentrification was needed ; these towns were always attractive. The same goes for other small Arkansas towns that haven't appeared to physically change much over the ages. The charm is all organic and unique to every location.
God bless towns of all sizes across the Natural State! The people from this great state are all wonderful, but there really is something unique about certain residents that charms people to their core. What is it about you that makes us love you so much, small town Arkansas? Sound off in the comments!