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Road tripping for the arts 

AGELESS KC: Harry Wayne Casey will be in Hot Springs.
  • AGELESS KC: Harry Wayne Casey will be in Hot Springs.

If you’re thinking about a road trip to take in a little culture (or horticulture) around the state, here’s the scoop on four spots around Arkansas to consider:

Hot Springs

Harry Wayne “KC” Casey may not have started disco, but many ’70s boppers think of KC and the Sunshine Band first when they think about disco. From the 1975 break-through smash “Get Down Tonight” to “Shake Your Booty,” the Miami-based KC, with its funk-and-Latin sound, was all over the disco scene a generation ago.

If KC isn’t the first disco band to come to mind, probably the Village People would be. Guess what? KC and the Sunshine Band are touring with the Village People, and will come to Hot Springs to kick off the annual Hot SpringFest on Wednesday, April 11. The 7:30 p.m. concert is at Summit Arena. Tickets are $20 and $25 through Ticketmaster.

The Village People, famed for the chart-topping hits “YMCA,” “Macho Man” and “In the Navy,” includes original members Alexander Briley (the GI), David Hodo (construction worker) and Felipe Rose (Indian). Jeff Olson took the Cowboy role in 1981, and Eric Anzalone came aboard as the Biker in 1995.

The other music and art events that make up Hot SpringFest in the downtown Spa City are free. Hot SpringFest was conceived by city leaders to provide evening entertainment during Oaklawn Park’s popular Racing Festival of the South, a week of big-money feature races culminating with the $1 million Arkansas Derby for the leading 3-year-olds on Saturday, April 14. Admission to Oaklawn is $2.

To be a part of all the downtown action, a night (or several) at the Arlington Resort Hotel would be the right call. The hotel is in the middle of the historic district, near Bathhouse Row, art galleries and restaurants (Belle Arti on Central Avenue is considered one of the best; Js Italian Villa on the far end of Highway 7 at Lake Hamilton also comes highly recommended). Call 501-321-2027 for more information. For tickets to the Summit concert with KC, call 501-321-1919.

Fayetteville

In 2001 the Botanical Garden Society of the Ozarks unveiled its grand plan for 86 acres located at the Fayetteville/Springdale line on Hwy 265. Drawn up by the Portico Group, a Seattle company that specializes in creating unique outdoor settings, the master plan is transforming an unassuming meadow into a premier outdoor arena to celebrate the beauty of nature.

The initial phase, including nine 2,000-square-foot themed gardens and the Carl A. Totemeier Horticulture Center, has been completed. The project will be completed with the help of a $564,460 donation from the Fayetteville Advertising and Promotion Commission. Nearly $3 million in private, public and corporate donations has gone into the garden.

Included in the blueprints are an amphitheater, a conservatory, an education center, hike and bike trails, boat rentals, an observatory cafe and a children’s area, all of which are expected to be completed by the end of this year.

“The Art of Bonsai” with Mike Walker kicked off spring events recently. On May 10, the 12th annual Greening of the Garden party and auction will be held at the Horticulture Center from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 pm. Tickets for the event are $35 in advance and $45 at the door; Italian food and beverages will be served as the live and silent auctions are held.

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