As November turned cold in northwest Arkansas, a warm reception and great brews awaited friends of the Buffalo River at two coordinated events in our area. Organized by Buffalo River, Highlands and Sugar Creek Chapters “Beers for the Buffalo” on November 8 at Fossil Cove Brewery in Fayetteville raised $1200 for our legal fund while stirring interest and concern for our own Buffalo River. A week later (11/15) in Bentonville “Brews for the Buffalo” at Airship Coffee brought in another $1000 for our legal fund. But we raised more than monetary support for the Buffalo, as the business community joined the Ozark Society to raise awareness of the dangers of Hog Farming near the Buffalo River.
Both events followed a similar agenda. Drew Lee, a history student at the University of Arkansas, presented a PowerPoint on the history of the battle for the Buffalo. He then highlighted current concerns for the pollution caused by the C & H Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO). Finally, he focused on the positive actions we need to take in order to keep the Buffalo River safe and clean. At the Fayetteville benefit, Teresa Turk presented a video of the hazards of algae growth, while in Bentonville Drew showed sides on the same topic. Adding continuity and humor, Laura Timby served as MC for the Fayetteville event, while Lowell Collins hosted the Bentonville occasion.
Ken Smith, a conservationist instrumental in the original battle to keep the Buffalo River from being dammed, spoke passionately on the need for a no-retreat, full court press approach to save the Buffalo. Door prizes were awarded, and donations flowed in as conversations ebbed and flowed around a common interest in keeping our Buffalo River clean, safe and healthy. Supporters took turns signing letters to Governor Asa Hutchison expressing their concern for the health of our beautiful river. Music provided by Still on the Hill, Joel Emerson, Justin Leflar, Shannon Wurst and Kevin Bennoch added raucous joy, humor and enthusiasm to both events. The venues where packed, and naturally we were happy to see so many young faces in the crowds!
A special thanks goes out to Fossil Cove Brewery, and Airship Coffee for hosting our events, and to the many vendors who supplied door prizes. Fossil Cove Brewery donated $1 per pint amounting to $300.00 for our legal fund! Door prizes were provided by: Pack Rat, Still on the Hill, Bike Route, Lewis and Clark, Overstreet Jewelry, Pedaler’s Pub, Phat Tire, Airship Coffee, Beth Keck and Ken Leonard, Buffalo River Chapter, The Ozark Society, and The Ozark Society Foundation. Arvest Bank donated the popcorn and pretzels for both events. Lastly, we need to thank Laura, Lowell and Beth Keck for canvasing the business community for door prizes and securing Fossil Cove and Airship Coffee for these 2 successful events.
What are the take-a-ways from these two events? Networking is fun, effective and efficient; provide beer and they will come; and involving the community in our battle to save the Buffalo strengthens our ability to fight for the things that matter, helps us gain new insights, engages us with concerned people, and helps share the burden of the task. It was great to be part of a 3-chapter working partnership. What can I say? We had a blast, drank a few brews and somehow managed to organize 2 successful benefits for the Buffalo River.