Oct 29, 2019
LITTLE ROCK, AR – Last Sunday afternoon, more than 4,000 Arkansans attended a new event at the River Market called “Downtown on the Farm” to highlight Arkansas agriculture in a centralized, easily accessible venue, ultimately bringing the state’s largest industry to the state’s largest city. Hosted by the Downtown Little Rock Partnership and the Arkansas Rice Federation, the free, family-friendly celebration lasted six hours during a picture-perfect fall day just off the Arkansas River.
Live music from local talent was featured as well as food trucks, bounce houses, pumpkin painting, a petting zoo, beer garden, a corn dig, plenty of up-close tractors, and much more! Attendees also learned about Arkansas agriculture through a variety of live animal exhibits, a cow-milking simulator, honey bee station, and even a visit from the Arkansas Razorback mascot, Tusk.
Attendees got their fill of rice information at booths from USA Rice, Arkansas Rice, and presentations from the largest single end user of U.S.-grown rice, Anheuser-Busch, that showcased their work with Arkansas rice farmers to meet both sustainability and thirst requirements.
The corn dig was without doubt the most popular attraction of Sunday afternoon’s activities. Constructed by USA Rice’s Josh Hankins and utilizing corn from Dow Brantley’s farm, the pit was constantly full of children digging for prizes until the last family departed.
“Although agriculture is the state’s largest industry, many Arkansans do not have the chance to experience life on a farm,” said Arkansas Rice Executive Director Lauren Waldrip. “Consumers are increasingly interested in not only where their food comes from, but also how it is produced and who grows it. ‘Downtown on the Farm’ enabled a hands-on opportunity to celebrate our neighbors who grow the food we eat at home and all around the world. We were overwhelmed with the positive response from our event and hope to continue this as a tradition in the future.”
The event also showcased free “rice bites” from local restaurants including @ the Corner, Allsopp & Chapple, The Capital Hotel, Cathead's Diner, Big Whiskey, Soul Fish Cafe, and South on Main. “This is the best tasting event we’ve ever done,” said one restaurant manager referring to the organic conversations he had with consumers about why he sources locally grown rice.
Event sponsors included Arkansas Rice, Greenway Equipment, Arkansas Soybean and Promotion Board, Riceland Foods, Ag Council of Arkansas, Arkansas Cattlemen's Association, Arkansas Farm Bureau Federation, Frost PLLC, Quattlebaum, Grooms & Tull PLLC, Anheuser-Busch, Poinsett Rice, Arkansas Corn & Grain Sorghum Board, Armor Bank, East Arkansas Broadcasters, and Lost 40.