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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Arkansas, here we come

Welcome to Princedom, Bella Vista, Ark.
Tree top cabin.
Maggie sips coffee in front of Princedom's fireplace.

Fireplace at The Cabin, Bella Vista, Ark.

War Eagle Fair, Arkansas, Maggie with Kansas City pal Sydney Burch

jJames at the Mill...Dessert

Photos by Paul L. Schuetze/The Times

Northeast Arkansas.

The third weekend in October.
The craft shows.

People jet in from around the world for the shows.

Husband Paul L. Schuetze and I are among them. Have been since the 1980s.

As many of you know, we stay in Princedom, a friend’s 100-year-old summer cabin in the Ozarks of Bella Vista, Ark. It is built so you feel that you are actually in the tree tops that shimmer with color as the leaves change and the wind blows.

This cabin is so very special. It just about my favorite place on this Earth and it is always difficult to leave its peacefulness.
It has a little rock fireplace that we light every morning for warmth while we dress to head to:

War Eagle Fair. This show is the one that started ‘em all many years ago. The drive there winds through the hills with a view to a valley still filled with farms.

A river runs through the property, dividing the original show — which is juried — to two non-juried shows and War Eagle Mill. The mill is wonderful, too, and you can buy grains and stone-ground flour and grits, enough, we hope, to get us to next year. (The mill is open all year and is worth the drive.)

We know many of the artists from years past and buy from them.

But, there are always new artists.

This year, our favorite purchases were: a giant jack-o-lantern-themed planter created from a golf cart tire. True folk art, people were snapping up at the Bella Vista show.

Then there was the Minnesota dairy farmer who showed rusty turkeys created from tractor seats and shovel heads; and buzzards perched on a stand made from shovel heads. We loved them and are finding a spot in our yard for them.

But, there is Pam Barro from Springfield, Mo., who creates whimsical clothing from sweat shirts and T-shirts. Sandy Kay Hunter hails from Kansas and paints blue birds and cows and sheep. We’ have bought her work for years and seen dramatic changes in her style and perception.

And, the food.

The places we frequent range from a four-star restaurant, James at the Mill, (see bottom photo) to a down-home place, Inn at Monte Ne.

If you didn’t know the Inn was there, you would not stop. There is one menu served family style: fried chicken, corn, cole slaw, and mashed potatoes. Bread is served with the best apple butter ever. But it is the bean soup that we crave, the best I have ever put into my mouth. I always bring home bean soup to freeze and some of the apple butter. No credit cards taken at the Inn. Cash or check. And, if you don’t have a reservation, forget it.

The best salad: Mary Maestri’s dressed with an incredibly simple oil/ vinegar dressing.

There is Fred’s for spaghetti.

I am counting the days until the third week in October 2008!


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