5 Things To See, Do or Crave in August

1. Sandwiching in History at the Lafayette Hotel

It’s no secret that Little Rock is home to a number of historical architectural treasures that have rich, intriguing stories to tell. Learn more about some of the city’s most legendary sites, buildings and homes during monthly “Sandwiching in History” tours. Presented by the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, an agency of the Department of Arkansas Heritage, the free tours take place on Fridays from noon until 1 p.m.

On Aug. 3, you can get a behind the scenes tour of the Lafayette Hotel on Louisiana Street. Constructed in 1925 by the Little Rock Hotel Company, the 11-story Lafayette Hotel was designed by St. Louis architect George D. Barnett in the Renaissance Revival style with decorative terra cotta detailing and a projecting copper cornice with dentils. The hotel originally contained 300 fireproof rooms, each with running water, which rented for $2.50 per night. The Lafayette Hotel closed in 1933 due to the Great Depression but reopened in 1941 under the management of Southwest Hotels. Despite a 1953 remodel, the hotel closed again in late 1973. In the 1980s, the lobby and mezzanine areas were restored to their original grandeur.

Today the first floor is available for special events, and the upper floors serve as office space and condominiums. Visit ArkansasPreservation.org for more info and for a complete list of upcoming tours.

2. Take a Canning & Preserving Class

Learn how to save some of your spring and summer harvest for the winter months at this Tuesday, August 21, canning and food preservation class. Led by the folks from The Root Café and held at Eggshells Kitchen Company in The Heights, this class will teach you everything you need to know about preserving those peaches, pink tomatoes or cucumbers. The price to attend the class is $50 per person, and spaces are limited. Register online at EggshellsKitchenCompany.com, or call 664-6900.

3. Shop for a “Fly” Pendant

We absolutely love this necklace by local artist Christy Bourns of Robinson Lane. The angel wing, coupled with the simple word “FLY,” warmed our hearts and inspired us.

We first came across the piece on one of our favorite websites, Bourbon & Boots, a compilation of products and stories that capture everything good about the South. The site is the brainchild of several friends and neighbors billed as “a bunch of Southerners and one Yankee” who “take pride in bringing you interesting Southern stuff.”

But back to the necklace. According to her profile, Christy’s goal is to create pieces that make women feel confident and beautiful. We think she hits the mark perfectly with this one. And for those of you sending daughters or granddaughters off to college – what a perfect way to send your encouragement along with her. To order, visit BourbonAndBoots.com.

4. Read “Madge’s Mobile Home Park” by Jane Hankins

Everywhere we go this summer, folks are talking about this book. Written by local artist Jane Hankins, it’s the first in a promised trilogy of books called the Peavine Chronicles that documents the lives of the good folk who live in a south Arkansas trailer park.

The novel has its origins in a sculpture show from 2000 featuring characters inspired by homemade road signs spotted by Hankins on car trips between Little Rock and New Orleans. “The first characters that came to mind were Teenie and Mavis Brice when I saw a sign for ‘AKC Toy Poodles and Dog Outfits’,” says Hankins. “A ‘Curl up and Dye’ sign begat Shirleen Naither, the beautician, and so on. Once I invented the town where they all moved into a local trailer park, the possibilities were limitless. If there can be a Lake Woebegone, Wisconsin and a Tuna, Texas there can be my imaginary town, Peavine, Arkansas.”

Hankins’ characters are thoroughly entertaining. Think one is eerily similar to your neighbor? Your suspicions are probably correct. Rumor has it that Hankins wove personality traits of her friends and family into the residents of Peavine.

Bottom line: it’s a must read before we say goodbye to summer. You can pick up a copy at Wordsworth Books and Company, The Crown Shop, Cynthia East Fabrics or River Market Books and Gifts.

5. Entertain With Summer Spirits

It’s been hot around these parts lately. We don’t need to tell you that. But which wines, beers and spirits are the best matches for hot summer days? Here are a few suggestions from the experts at Colonial Wine & Spirits.

Beer | Top choices are crisp German styles like Sudwerk Hefeweisen or North Coast Scrimshaw Pilsner. And if you haven’t had the Shiner Ruby Redbird, now is the time!

Whites | Anything you can put a chill on is a great idea. Look for a good crisp sauvignon blanc from California or pinot gris from Oregon.

Rose | There are some great domestic roses out there. A favorite at Colonial is Belle Glos Pinot Noir Rose.

Bubbles | Sparkling wine works for practically any occasion. Scharffenberger, Argyle, and Schramsberg are just a few of the great sparklers coming out of the U.S.

Reds | If you are grilling big slabs of meat, you can’t go wrong with a good California syrah. They have the power to match stronger dishes and often bring a great pepper component to food. Try the stunners from Bell, Dierberg, Black Bart and Justin.

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