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Independence Day is traditionally a time of celebration and gathering with friends and family. In light of COVID-19, 4th of July celebrations will look a little different this year. Concerns about social distancing and stopping the spread have left many wondering how to celebrate the holiday responsibly while still supporting Arkansas businesses.
As someone who spends a lot of time in the outdoors regularly visiting parks and trails across Arkansas, I am aware of the principles of Leave No Trace and Responsible Recreation. Recently, as more people are participating in outdoor activities, a movement has been initiated to encourage safe outdoor recreation during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the principles provided a springboard to put together this guide for having a socially responsible 4th of July in Arkansas.
While many communities have decided to cancel their fireworks displays this year, some are opting to proceed with changes in place that may affect how and where you view the show, so it’s important to check guidelines and plan ahead. Some changes may include:
Before you head out to your favorite local fireworks display this year, be sure to check the local guidelines carefully.
Many businesses suffered unexpected closures earlier this year, and the coming holiday provides us with the perfect opportunity to support local businesses. Here are some suggestions:
Visit Your Local State Park – All 52 of our state parks are free to enter and have lots of fun opportunities for recreation. Hiking, boating, fishing and camping are all open and can be done safely. Some trails and activities are still limited, so check individual parks before visiting.
Get on Your Bike and Ride – Biking is a great summer activity, and Arkansas is full of biking trails just ready to be explored.
Go Fishing or Paddling – Fishing season is year-round in Arkansas, and an annual fishing license is only $10.50 and supports recreation and conservation in the Natural State. Our lakes and rivers are beautiful and provide hours of fun.
Take a Scenic Drive – Scenic drives are relaxing, and Arkansas is loaded with scenic overlooks and vistas.
Shop Local – July 4th is all about the food! Grilled meat and in-season fruits and veggies are always popular. This year consider taking an extra step to purchase meat, fruits and vegetables from local farmers. Farmer’s Markets are in full swing (be sure to wear your mask) and provide an excellent opportunity to stock up on everything you need for your 4th of July picnic. Get the recipe for the Pulled Pork and Tomatillo Ranch Hot Dog featuring Petit Jean hot dogs here.
Eat Local – If you prefer to skip the backyard barbecue, consider supporting local restaurants. Kevin Shalin has already done the legwork for you and scoped out restaurants all over Arkansas. Here are a few to try this holiday:
Although some activities are at lower risk than others, coming into contact with other people can increase your chance of contracting or spreading COVID-19. Be responsible for yourself by wearing a mask in public, keeping your distance from others, and practicing good and regular handwashing.
It can feel like some of the temporary restrictions are infringing on our ability to have fun and celebrate, but it is essential to remember that the restrictions are temporary. Also, be kind to others and remember that you are ultimately only responsible for yourself.
Some Arkansans are just discovering the joy of time spent outdoors and the beauty of the Natural State. When spending time outdoors, it is important to clean up after yourself. Whether you are fishing, hiking, enjoying a local swimming hole, picnicking or shooting fireworks in your own backyard, it’s important to clean up any mess left behind. Trash is not only ugly, but it can be dangerous to wildlife. If you spend time in the outdoors this Independence Day, be sure to pick up your trash, place it in correct receptacles and follow the principles of Leave No Trace. Keep Arkansas Beautiful and enjoy your 4th of July holiday weekend.
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