My weekend started out on Friday with a visit to the quaint resort town of Eureka Springs, Arkansas, which is approximately one hour southwest of Branson. This town cannot be described and must be experienced, but I will do my best. The downtown area is 100% Victorian-era buildings with lots of little shops, restaurants and lodging facilities. It reminds me of a little Switzerland with its winding, hilly roads. There are no traffic lights in the historic downtown area and I am told that the streets wind around in a 5 mile loop with no two intersecting.
Arvest Bank sponsored a luncheon meet and greet for the community. I met a lot of wonderful people both from the area and employees of the bank. I took lots of pictures and signed lots of autographs. I even became an Arvest honorary employee with a name badge and everything.
Once our Sparky’s lunch was settled, it was onto the Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge. Almost 500 acres houses over 100 large cats along with a few other animals. Lions and tigers and a bear, oh my!! It’s pretty amazing being that close to an animal with such power. Of course we were at a safe distance at all times and I noticed that the cages are very solid. This is a government inspected facility and has to comply with their regulations. One of the employees took us on a guided tour of the grounds in a modified golf cart. It was around feeding time, so the animals were feisty to say the least. One of the male lions had just gotten done eating his chicken and decided it was time to mark his territory, coming too close for comfort to marking me!! I was glad I was just out of shooting range. What makes this facility even more interesting is that it’s supported by community donations and these employees work hard to keep the animals happy. If you are a big cat lover, you need to check out their website and visit if you are in town.
We all stopped at the Best Western Ozark Mountain Inn for a short break and recharge with a nice assortment of fruit, cheese and crackers. Then it was off to line up in the Eureka Springs Christmas Parade. I was invited to be the Grand Marshall and got to ride with Mickey Mouse!! Arvest Bank sponsored the float which was the flashiest, coolest float of the parade. Riding with me were several bank employees and their families as we all waved and they threw out candy canes to the spectators along the parade route.
I have to thank the Eureka Springs Chamber of Commerce and Arvest Bank for doing such a wonderful job coordinating all the events and taking care of me while I was there. This truly was an enjoyable experience!! Definitely a community that I will visit again!!