A venture to this state park is on the must-do list for many, the park being the only spot in North America where you can dig for diamonds and other gemstones and keep your finds.
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P is for Parrotheads, who swarmed North Little Rock in March. Their inspiration and undisputed leader, Jimmy Buffet, sold out Verizon Arena in less than an hour and a half. The booze-fueled, epic tailgating more than lived up to our expectations.
Q is for Queer Prom. In a relatively short span of time, Little Rock's Queer Prom has grown into a bona fide annual tradition, offering a big night out to LGBT folks and straights alike, with dancing, music and all the good times that eluded many of us misfits the first time around, back in the bad old days of high school. Times contributor Blair Tidwell went to the 2012 "Roaring '20s" shindig, and wrote that "the real difference from the quintessential teen-age experience was being in a room full of people completely comfortable with themselves. An assortment of characters filled the dance floor, many dressed as flappers in fringe and sequins or in suspenders for the party's prohibition-era theme. Some donned experimental drag — girls with drawn-on handlebar mustaches and boys test-driving skirts and tights — some in professional drag, with exquisite wigs and fluttering false eyelashes. Others went for personal preference, a unicorn here, an '80s prom queen there, plus a '40s pin-up gal or two."
R is for Reel Civil Rights Film Festival. The festival was founded in 2004 by Spirit Trickey, a playwright and activist whose mother, Minnijean Brown Trickey, is one of the Little Rock Nine. This year, it joined with the Little Rock Film Festival and the Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site to pay tribute to the 55th anniversary of the Central High desegregation crisis and honor the Little Rock Nine. The festival brought in an impressive array of programming and special guests, including Olympic Gold Medalist Tommie Smith, motivational speaker Kevin Powell and musical icon Harry Belafonte.
S is for "Sorrow & Extinction," Pallbearer's incredible debut album. Bonus extra "S" for this listing: Songwriting. Songwriting! Pallbearer is as heavy and doom-y as they come, with downtuned riffage and funereal fuzz galore, but the band also writes moving, memorable tunes that have an emotional core that resonates even after the song is over. That's one reason why this album stands way, way out ahead of the pack, landing it on many best albums of the year lists, including NPR Music, Spin, Decibel (No. 5!) and no doubt several more to be released over the next few days as 2012 winds down. The band is streaming the album on its bandcamp page for free. Go listen now. So, so good.
T is for Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, who sold out Verizon Arena in April for a fantastic, two-hour concert, his first in the state. I'm not gonna lie: It was awesome. Petty and Co. played pretty much every song you'd wanna hear from their incredibly rich back catalog. Standouts included "Free Falling," the utter classic "American Girl" and a raucous, ripping version of "Runnin' Down a Dream." The crowd inside the arena was deafening and Petty promised that he would return. Let's hope he keeps his word.