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How to Have a Great 4th of July in Arkansas in 2020

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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.

Plan Ahead

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:

  • Fireworks displays may be moved to locations only viewable by boat or paid campsites to ensure social distancing is maintained.
  • Some municipalities have requested that observers remain in their vehicles.
  • Maintaining a distance of 6 feet away from others when outside of your vehicle is required.
  • Masks worn when outside of your vehicle.
  • Some places are banning lawn chairs and requiring temperature checks to minimize crowds.

Before you head out to your favorite local fireworks display this year, be sure to check the local guidelines carefully.

Recreate and Eat Close to Home

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:

Adhere to Best Practices for Avoiding COVID-19 and Follow State and Federal Guidelines

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.

Clean Up After 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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Julie Kohl works from home as a writer and virtual assistant while raising her young son. A former Yankee who was "converted" to the south by her husband, Julie has grasped on to rural life in a sleepy, blink-your-eyes-and-you'll-miss-it town in central Arkansas. Julie loves adventure. Not necessarily "scare-your-pants-off" adventure but the kind where you seek out new and exciting things. New foods, new places, new experiences. On her blog, Seek Adventures, Julie shares about the outdoor and travel adventures of her family as they camp and standup paddleboard across the South. You can also learn more about her writing on her site Seek Adventures Media.

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