May 31, 2017 Edition

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Creating the extraordinary
out of ordinary

John Bland

Walnut Ridge made the list of "The 12 Very Best Day Trips You Can Possibly Take In Arkansas" posted May 9, 2017, on the website, Only In Your State.

On the website, J.B. Weisenfels ranks Walnut Ridge number (9) in the list and titles the Walnut Ridge segment "The Unique Town In Arkansas That's Anything But Ordinary."

He writes, "Walnut Ridge is an adorable little town with a restaurant that has a dining room on a retired jet. It's also home to some interesting history. That history has led to the annual Beatles at the Ridge festival, which really is an extravaganza unlike any other in Arkansas." He writes, "the town is located in one of the best spots in the world for waterfowl enthusiasts."

It was good to see Walnut Ridge on the list. Sometimes I think we Americans tend to equate small with inferior. Europeans will confirm that some of the most charming and interesting places to visit in Europe are small towns and villages.

Small can also mean beautiful, unique and charming, and we should continue to strive to capitalize on those things that enhance the quality of life in all of our small towns. Sometimes, we have to see beyond the ordinary and create something extraordinary.


Arkansas is home to a number of remarkable success stories, and one of the best is that of Patti Upton of Heber Springs. Upton died on May 23 at her home on Greer's Ferry's Eden Isle.

Patti began the company, Aromatique, in 1982 literally "just for fun," states the company's website. The story that I've always heard is that while raking in her yard, she was inspired by the beauty and mix of such things as acorns, pinecones and sweet gum balls. She combined these ordinary natural elements and "fragranced them with spices, oils and ingenuity" and created something extraordinary. From her experiment, The Smell of Christmas was born and remains the company's flagship fragrance.

She distinguished her decorative fragrances apart from potpourri, which is the traditional collection of sweet smelling dried flowers. Aromatique, sold in only select gift shops and stores in the country, rose to the top of the market.

Aromatique has benefitted several philanthropic causes through the years, including the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. Over $1.7 million has been donated to The Nature Conservancy through the sale of "The Natural State" decorative fragrance line, states Aromatique's website. The money has been used to help protect and preserve beautiful natural lands from which Aromatique derives its resources.

Upton's mother and stepfather, the late Mary Hinkle Pulliam and Dr. J.A. Pulliam, were former residents of Pocahontas.

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