Biking, hiking, and snacking, oh my! Fayetteville, Arkansas features miles of bike and hiking trails that twist and turn through the Ozark Mountains. But if you aren’t into outdoor activities, there’s still plenty to do. Ashley Cane of Experience Fayetteville tells us all about the best places to eat and other attractions that make Fayetteville, Arkansas one special college town.
AB: Welcome to this episode of Main and Mulberry. I’m Anna Bell and today I’m really excited to have with us the Marketing Manager for Experience Fayetteville in Fayetteville, Arkansas Ashley Cane. Ashley, thank you so much for taking the time to be with us today.
AC: Thank you so much for having me.
AB: Yeah, absolutely. I’m excited to learn a lot more about Fayetteville. Can you start things off by kind of telling us where you’re located in Arkansas, for those of us who have not yet had the opportunity to visit?
AC: Absolutely. So we are located in the Northwest corner of the state. Um, we’re kind of nestled in the Ozark mountains. Um, and so we are really close to major cities like Kansas city or Little Rock. We’re kind of a crossroads.
AB: Okay. That’s really awesome. Okay. So a lot of people can, can get to you kind of from other States all around, right?
AC: Absolutely. Yeah.
AB: That’s awesome. Um, maybe you can come tell us a little about yourself, Ashley, as we kick things off, what are your responsibilities as the Marketing Manager of Experience Fayetteville? What’s the overall mission for the organization?
AC: Sure. So I am the Marketing Manager, as you said, I have a graphic design background. Um, and so I bring a little bit of design to the table. Um, but alongside that, I get to work on writing content for the web, um, managing our website. I also manage our social media. Um, and then we have an agency of record that I get to work alongside and run really fun campaigns. Um, but I really love it because every day is just really different. So, you know, some days I might be out of photo shoot or working a shift in the visitor center or, you know, at my computer, but, um, in, in all the different avenues, we get to work with a lot of different people and see a lot of different people. So I just really love that and be creative.
AB: It sounds like you’re in a very creative environment.
AC: Yes, yes, absolutely.
AB: That’s awesome. Are you from the area, how did you get connected with Experience Fayetteville?
AC: I am. I’m from Rogers, Arkansas, which is about 20 minutes away. Um, and I went to school at the University of Arkansas, which is here in Fayetteville. Um, and my parents always joked that I would never leave it. They’ll once I got here and I’m like, get it the way, you know, I probably, they were right. I love it here.
AB: Oh, that’s awesome. I love hearing those kind of stories. Very cool. And Experience Fayetteville, are you guys a CVB? a Convention Visitors Bureau, is that right?
AC: Yes, we are. We’re the Convention Visitors Bureau, um, and we’re located in the Downtown Square, kind of in the heart of Fayetteville. Um, and out of that space, we have our offices, but we also operate as a visitor center. Um, and in our visitor center, people can come in and get information. We can help them with itineraries, things like that. Um, and then you can also chat for souvenirs and shop local. We’ve a lot of gifts and postcards and that type of stuff in there.
AB: Oh, that’s great. Very awesome. I love hearing a little bit about downtown, so let’s really get to know the Fayetteville area. I’ve heard that Fayetteville is a favorite landing place for outdoor lovers. So let’s talk about, you know, the outdoor amenities that Fayetteville offers its visitors.
AC: Absolutely. So like I said, we are located in downtown, um, but our downtown is very walkable. Um, and it’s our entertainment district, so there’s lots of restaurants and shops and, um, it’s a great place to just wander. Um, also located on the downtown square is our farmer’s market. So that’s every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday and Saturday morning walking around the farmer’s market with a cup of coffee in your hand and there’s live music playing. It’s just, it’s unmatched. It’s just, you can feel this energy whenever you’re out walking around. And it’s just a really fun time, um, hearing about that. It said a lot of vendors in that area, the, for the farmer’s market. Yeah. Explain it spans all the way around four sides of our downtown square. Um, but then just outside of that, there are shops and restaurants that are already established there. So you can, you can see the farmers and the vendors and things like that, but you could also pop into a little cafe, um, or go do a little shopping while you’re out and about. And so it’s just the perfect location.
AB: So great. I’d love to hear that. We’ve got a great farmer’s market here in Collierville, outside of Memphis, and it’s really fun seeing those local vendors, those artists kind of bring their, their work and you really get to experience it, even if you’re not from that area, you know, uh, artists in that area. So that’s really cool that you mentioned that I’m glad you did.
AC: Yeah, absolutely.
AB: So tell us a little bit more about the, um, other outdoor amenities. I’ve heard that you guys are the Silver Bicycle Friendly Community, that you are really encouraging bicyclists to come and visit you guys.
AC: Absolutely. It was really hard to not just write all of my notes and you know, ideas about cycling because we could talk for more than 10 minutes about cycling alone. Um, we are very fortunate that cycling is growing and expanding in this area. Um, Fayetteville actually hit a hundred miles of trail this year includes pave and gravel and all different types of trail. Um, and so we have one trail that, uh, is a favorite in our area. It’s called the Razorback Greenway and it’s a pave multi-use trail that connects Fayetteville to Springdale Rogers Bentonville Bellavista. So it’s 40 miles long. So you can come back from town to town and you can stop and get, you know, lunch or something eat along the way. Um, a lot of bike, bicycle friendly businesses that you can just pop into. And so that’s a really, really cool experience.
AB: Oh, that’s wonderful. 40 miles. That’s incredible.
AC: That’s a good little stretch there, but you don’t have to lose the whole thing.
AB: Yeah, yeah. You do you ride yourself,Ashley?
AC: I do. I just ride for fun. We have a lot of people here that are really into mountain biking and you know, are a little more hardcore, but I just like the commuter, you know, just get together with friends and ride to dinner or something like that. It’s really fun.
AB: Love that. That’s awesome. I’ve also heard good things that you have many parks and outdoor natural areas in, in Fayetteville. Maybe we can touch on some of those too.
AC: Yeah, absolutely. So we have, um, several lakes in the area. We have like Fayetteville, like Sequoia, um, like Weddington, all of those, you can go fishing. Um, all of them have trails all the way around them. So you can go cycle again or you can, um, go for a trail run or walk your dog. Um, there’s also lots of boating and kayaking and there’s a lot of different things to do.
AB: Oh, I love that. I know that people have probably really enjoyed it, especially this year with, with, uh, you know, the COVID and coronavirus. A lot of people, if there’s a silver lining with all this, a lot of people have been outside a lot more.Have you noticed that in the area this year, having lots of people outside lately?
AC: I think a lot of people come to our area this time of year for the outdoors anyway. Um, even our locals are getting out and about, and we’re kind of seeing them get out and about in different ways. So somethings become really popular over the summer is to do like mural tours. And so we have a lot of public art around the city. Um, and so our urban areas are kind of nestled in with natural areas. So you could go, you know, go for a hike or a mountain bike ride and then come into town and tour around and look at the public art. Um, and we also have bike and scooter share programs. So a lot, we see a lot of people just popping on the scooters, um, and just go in for a ride to looking at the art and just see the sites enjoy themselves like a lot of fun.
AB: That’s great. Yeah. I would be remiss to not also include in this outdoor amenities that division one college athletics, that’s just right up the road at the University of Arkansas. I’m sure that is another big attraction for people to come and visit you guys.
AC: Absolutely football season is definitely a huge draw here. Um, Saturdays, you know, especially if you start off at the farmer’s market, then you can just carry that energy throughout the day you go to lunch, you might go tailgate, um, go to a football game. And then after the game, everyone gathers on Dixon street to go out for a drink and celebrate.
AB: How fun. Oh, I love it. You know, a college town that has to bring a lot of, a lot of energy. And I can imagine now students that have come in, you know, first this semester already, uh, the area probably really comes to life when they come, come to town.
AC: Absolutely it really does. Um, they bring, you know, they just bring an energy with it and you can, you can see, you know, out in the streets, it’s a little more hustle and bustle and people out and about, and it’s just really great to see.
AB: That’s awesome. So we’ve touched a little bit about the outdoor life. Let’s talk a little bit about your venues and restaurants for a minute. What is the local flavor in Fayetteville?
AC: Fayetteville has a really wide variety of restaurants. We’re really lucky in that way. Um, and so we have a lot of award, award-winning restaurant, um, like Mockingbird Kitchen, or Leveritt lounge. Um, you can get Indian food, Thai food, Greek food. We’ve got a little bit of something for everyone. So we really love that. Um, we also have some coffee shops that roast locally. Um, so Onyx coffee and Arsagas Coffee are really good places to go for a great cup of coffee. Um, and then no visit is complete without, uh, without going to Hugo’s, which is, um, it’s a burger restaurant. It’s a little, what some might describe a hole in the wall, but in there since the 1970s and it’s got this nostalgia and just a really, really great burger.
AB: That’s awesome. And I’ve heard if you’re a craft brew lover, you, you want to go to Fayetteville, right?
AC: Absolutely. So our craft beer scene has grown immensely over the years. Um, we actually operate the Fayetteville ale trail out of our office. So we created a program. Um, it has a passport, so visitors can get a passport and you can visit all the different breweries and we have one cidery and you get a stamp when you go to each location and then if you complete your full passport, you can bring it back to us for a prize. So it’s just a fun little way that we get people out and about. And I think when we started it, we had five breweries, um, several years ago. And now we’re up to 17 stops. Well, seven different breweries in Fayetteville.
AB: Wow. That is so cool. Now this might be the first time I’ve ever heard of a cidery. That’s really neat.
AC: Yeah. Yeah. It’s a, it’s the, state’s only cidery it’s called Black Apple Cider. It’s actually located in Springdale right outside of Fayetteville. Um, but they’re, they’re along our trail and they’re great partners and they make really, really great cider.
AB: How neat! Oh, I love that. So fun as we kind of start getting into this fall weather, that sounds like a perfect stop. I love hearing that. This might be kind of a good segway -. We talked a little bit about the farmer’s market earlier, too. And, and all the culture that comes with it. Can we talk a little bit about, uh, Fayetteville’s – the culture and some of the artisans and the art in the area?
AC: Yeah, so we are a college town, as we said, and that brings its own energy. Um, but we’re also a very artsy town and, um, you know, we’ve got a lot of different opportunities and ways to experience the arts, um, and get out and about. So we’ve got Walton’s Art center and Theater s\Squared, are located downtown off of Dickson street. Um, and that’s kind of our arts and entertainment district. And then, like I said, we have murals all over town that are accessible to anyone to just, you might drive by and be like, Oh my gosh, that’s cool. Let’s go see that..
AB: And have a picture, right?
AC: Yes. Yes. We get a lot of people that come out for selfies. Um, we have a new mural on the back of our building that was just completed like a week ago. Um, and it says Fayetteville is my favorite Ville. And so people come take selfies in front of that while they’re in town.
AB: Love that. Yes. That makes perfect sense. And another little place I’ve been told to go to is George’s Majestic Lounge. Did I say that right?
AC: Yes, you did. George’s is a staple in Fayetteville. It’s another must-see place. It opened in 1927. So it’s our oldest, uh, one of the oldest entertainment venues in the U.S. but it’s the oldest in Arkansas for sure. Um, and they are still open and operating and keeping Dixon street busy. So they bring in new music of all different types, but then it’s all ages attending these shows. So it’s everyone from college students to older people that, you know, have been going there for years. And it just makes a really great gathering spot.
AB: Yeah, as we wrap things up, Ashley, maybe you could share with us, what is one of your favorite places or things to do in Fayetteville?
AC: Well, I think I touched on it a little bit, but Hugos, you have to go to Hugo’ and get a burger. Um, and then you have to take a walk down Dixon street, you know, there’s such great nightlife in the area. Um, there’s lots of different bars that have great patios. Um, there’s a bar called Maxine’s that serves up wonderful cocktails. Um, there is Vault, which is the first bourbon bar in Arkansas. Um, and then also like a pin ball bar at karaoke bar. So there’s just really something for everyone in the downtown area. And so I think that everyone’s just got to get out and walk around and see what there is to do while you’re there.
AB: That’s great. I’m so glad you mentioned about the downtown area. What is the vibe when you go down there? Is it kind of that small town, downtown feel or is it just really lively and a lot going on kind of if you touch on that for us will you?
AC:Yeah. I think a lot of people kind of describe Fayetteville as the perfect mix of both, you know, it’s half that small town feel that people are incredibly friendly and hospitable. Um, but it’s big enough that there’s plenty to do. You won’t get bored, um, and you may come across something unexpected. And so we really love the mix of kind of being, having a foot in both worlds.
AB: That’s awesome. Yeah. Cool. Ashley, we sincerely appreciate your time and your insight today and being our virtual tour guide into the life of Fayetteville, Arkansas. So if someone’s wanting to learn more and get some more information, where should they go, Ashley?
AC: Yeah, absolutely. Um, so you can go to experiencefayetteville.com and we are always posting blogs and events and new things to do on there. Um, you can also follow us at Fayetteville AR on Facebook and Instagram. We also have a Twitter and a Pinterest. Um, but I just want to thank you again for the awesome conversation today. And I really hope that you can also make a trip to Fayetteville since you’re so close.
AB: Oh, absolutely. It’s definitely on my list now. And speaking of that, are there events that are coming up? With, with the COVID and coronavirus a lot of events have been postponed, but maybe that’s something you can, you can end with us now of upcoming events.
AC: Sure. Well, like you said, a lot of events have had to pivot this year or kind of cancel and rework what they’re doing. Um, but a couple of our great bike ride events, um, we have the square to square bike ride, which is either Bentonville to fit Ville or Fayetteville to Bentonville it’s twice a year on the Razorback Greenway. Um, so instead of that being a one day event, it’s now more of a month long challenge. So you can still sign up online and you can do it in your own time and track your miles with an app. And then you still get the teacher at, in the middle and all of that. So that’s kind of a fun way that a lot of sporting events have kind of changed what they’re doing now. And then another one that I want to mention is Fayetteville roots festival. It’s typically happening this week in Fayetteville. Um, and it’s a really intimate urban music festival that also focuses on food. Um, and it brings in these big name acts along with some smaller ones and, um, you can go to shows and really intimate small venues. So it’s a really cool experience. Um, and unfortunately that’s not happening this year, but they have taken it virtually. So they’re doing what they call a stream of thought where you can tune in and see the different shows online. But they’re also pairing that with, um, food from local restaurants. So you can go order a Woodstone pizza in advance, bring it home and eat it while you’re watching your roots show. So it’s almost like you’re really live for that.
AB: Oh, that’s so creative. Oh, that’s fun. Oh, I love to hear that. But most of us out of town right now, we could still join in?
AC: Yes, absolutely. Their website is rootsfest.org so you can jump in the fun and see some of those acts.
AB: Well, Ashley, we appreciate you and your time so very much. Thank you.
AC: Thank you again for having me.
AB: Absolutely. All right guys, I hope you enjoyed this episode of Main and Mulberry. Until next time, I’m Anna Bell.