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10 years – The Stories and Glories of Arkansas | Keisha Pittman McKinney


If you’d asked me 10 years ago if I thought I’d be a constant part of the conversation on a website about Arkansas, I might have laughed at you or checked your temperature. I was building a career in nonprofit management and working to make connections across Northwest Arkansas. But, as I type those words and think about the articles I’m researching, many of those connections I built are part of the full circle of sharing stories of real people and places I’ve come to love in Arkansas.

As a Texan convert, I’m still learning and mesmerized by the new things I learn about Arkansas weekly. Whether I’m talking to a fellow mom beside the sandbox at a park or sitting at a fundraising dinner with my husband’s co-workers, the conversation often turns to “What do you do?”

Explaining that I write stories about Arkansas often is a perfect conversation starter that usually gets us in trouble when a keynote speaker arrives at the microphone, or my kid needs his eighth snack at the park.

Arkansas is an excellent topic of conversation. We’ve all had our own experiences with her, yet we are still perplexed that she is a complicated gal with much more to learn.

We finally marked the Wye Mountain Daffodil Festival off our Arkansas list this year!

What inspires me about Arkansas?

Two answers immediately come to mind when I think about how Arkansas inspires me – getting outside and meeting new people. 

It doesn’t matter where I go in this state; there are still more things to learn. Even the places I frequent look different by the season – new menu items, growth in the experiences they offer guests, and staff changes bring improved ideas.

Any time we have a free weekend and the weather is playing nice, we jump in our car and go somewhere. I keep a running list of places I learn about and want to explore in an app on my phone. I’m already creating my summer bucket list for adventures and eateries.

Arkansas makes me want to be more creative and restful.

Arkansas has taught me to love “brown signs” and slow down to see where they lead.

Arkansas has offered an outdoor classroom for exploring and learning with my son through challenging walks on trails we thought might never end and up close experiences with critters.

Arkansas celebrates everything and reminds me to stop and do the same. (I’m talking about the Watermelon and Tomato Festivals, Testical Festival, Squirrel Cookoff, Rural Doctor Museum and the famous Coon Supper.)

As a Texan, I thought I had met the most passionate people. But Arkansans can compete with anyone I’ve ever met. They are proud of their hometowns and committed to preserving legacies and re-invigorating spaces with a strategy for the future. It makes me proud to call this state home!

15 Stories I’m proud of:

19 Stories from other authors that I learned from:

What’s left on my Arkansas bucket list?

  • An East Arkansas Tour – Delta and Beyond
  • Sultana Disaster Museum | Marion
  • Quigley’s Castle & Pivot Rock | Eureka Springs
  • Mount Magazine in the Fall | Paris
  • A weekend at Mount Nebo | Dardanelle
  • Arkansas Air and Military Museum | Fayetteville
  • Attend a battle reenactment
  • Eat at Wilson Cafe | Wilson
  • Drive the Rock ‘n Roll Highway
  • Check off all nine Nature Centers
  • Eat a steak at Taylor’s | Dumas

What comes next?

Well, any of us on this side of the keyboard would say we love writing these stories. So, we’d love to hear from you. Are there people, places, events, or experiences we need to know about and research more to share with others? Leave a comment, share an idea, or contact us with a link or suggestions.

Arkansas still has much to explore!

So, it’s a 10th anniversary or birthday, as I like to call it – Happy Birthday Only In Arkansas. Thanks for sharing your stories and revelations with us. And, readers, thanks for continuing to show up weekly and bringing joy and conversation to the topics that mean the most to Arkansans!

Meet the

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A little about .

Keisha (Pittman) McKinney lives in Northwest Arkansas with her chicken man and break-dancing son. Keisha is passionate about connecting people and building community, seeking solutions to the everyday big and small things, and encouraging others through the mundane, hard, and typical that life often brings. She put her communications background to work as a former Non-profit Executive Director, college recruiter and fundraiser, small business trainer, and Digital Media Director at a large church in Northwest Arkansas. Now, she is using those experiences through McKinney Media Solutions and her blog @bigpittstop, which includes daily adventures, cooking escapades, #bigsisterchats, the social justice cases on her heart, and all that she is learning as a #boymom! Keisha loves to feed birds, read the stack on her nightstand, do dollar store crafts, cook recipes from her Pinterest boards, and chase everyday adventures on her Arkansas bucket list.

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