Arkansas’s first environmental education state park interprets the importance of the natural world and our place within it.
In one of Fox 16's dispatches from its relentless coverage of The Day Kris Allen Was Crowned King of Arkansas, Sandra Kirk reported that some anxious concertgoers had arrived at the amphitheater for a mini-concert scheduled to begin at 11:45 a.m., at 4 a.m. That, if someone wasn't lying to Kirk, probably isn't even in the top five of Crazy Things Crazy People Did to Celebrate the Day Kris Allen Was Crowned King of Arkansas. Results are still filtering in. Surely, someone in the sea of 18,000 to 20,000 who reportedly packed into Conway's Simon Park on Friday night got Kris Allen's entire body tattooed on their back or ripped off one of his gently-styled hairs to make Kris Allen jewelry.
But back to the amphitheater, which didn't squeeze 20,000, but seemed to be at James Brown proportions. Those people who staked out a spot at 4 a.m.? Dumb. Because the truant teens and tweens and work-skippers who made up the crowd did not seem schooled in the art of packing the front of the stage at a concert. I showed up about 30 minutes before the show and had no trouble getting within 15 feet of the stage, where I waited, among the “KRIS WAS MY SUBSTITUTE TEACHER” and “LONOKE COUNTY HEARTS KRIS” sign wavers, while Fox 16's Donna Terrell and Kevin Kelly played emcee. For nearly 30 minutes, they gave a running play-by-play of his every move in real-time.
“He's across the way on the Arkansas Queen!”
“Hey, everybody! If we scream really loud he can hear us!”
“I just got a text. From Kris Allen! It said [dramatic pause], ‘I can hear you.' ”
“He's in a superstretch limo.”
“He's crossing the river bridge with a police escort.”
“He's looking out his window!”
And on and on.
He came onstage, of course, to mass hysteria. Prepubescent girl screeches. Grown woman Oh-My-Gods. “WE EAT ICE FOR LUNCH IN ARKANSAS” signs waving furiously. And he said the kind of things you'd expect, but with what seemed to be genuine feeling: “I'm so blown away.” “It's because of you that I'm here.” “You guys are the best.” And then he sang his three strongest songs, and surely the three that most suggest his artistic direction — his reconfigured “She Works Hard for the Money,” “Falling Slowly” and “Ain't No Sunshine.” All sounded like, fingers-crossed*, “Your next ‘American Idol!' ”
*We went to press pre-show.