With this year’s Association of Alternative Newsweeklies convention in San Diego just over, the Arkansas Times is itching to bring the convention to Little Rock next summer. Why?
“Just rampant boosterism,” said Alan Leveritt, Times publisher and convention chair. “We love Little Rock, and we wanted to introduce our friends at AAN to her.”
The 29th annual AAN convention will be held on June 15-17, 2006, in Arkansas’ capital city, and Leveritt said the paper’s staff is very excited.
Little Rock has a lot to offer visitors, Leveritt said. For starters, it’s home to the William J. Clinton Presidential Library, as well as the Central High School Museum, which captures the history of the desegregation crisis in 1957.
A riverboat tour is planned to show off the beautiful Arkansas River that runs right through the city. Leveritt also hopes to present Arkansas’s rich cultural history.
“We’ve got really interesting indigenous music, and by that I’m thinking of the blues and Scotch-Irish hill music, and we’re going to try to showcase both of those forms,” Leveritt said.
On top of that, Leveritt believes Little Rock has some of the best food in the country.
“There are no ribs to compare to Sim’s,” he said, talking about a popular family restaurant that specializes in a mustard-based rib sauce.
As for the convention speakers, the Times has already invited President Clinton to speak, though his appearance won’t be confirmed or denied until much later. The group Heifer International, which provides impoverished people with animals, has its headquarters in Little Rock, and is excited about helping to bring internationally known speakers to the convention to discuss redevelopment and poverty, Leveritt said.
In addition, Little Rock offers some great outdoor sights within an hour of the city. The Ozark and Ouachita mountains are to the north and west, and the nearby Buffalo River is the only river that is also a national park in its entirety. Leveritt highly recommends that convention goers stay for an extra day or two to visit these spots for hiking, canoeing and fishing, and he said the Times will try to set up packages for those who want to explore.
With good food, good music and Southern hospitality, Little Rock will provide a great time for all those who come next year, Leveritt promised.
Lindsay Kishter is a junior at the University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism and is interning at AAN for the summer.