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Founded in 1837, Bentonville was named in honor of Senator Thomas Hart Benton, the great uncle to the great American artist Thomas Hart Benton. The city experienced Civil War battles right in the heart of town and was once the largest apple producing region in the country. In May of 1950 Sam Walton opened his Ben Franklin variety store in downtown Bentonville, and from this Walton's 5 & 10 was born and later Wal-mart Stores, Inc. Over the last decade, Bentonville has transformed from the hustle and bustle of a corporate town to an arts and cultural hub due to the opening of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. The Museum is the pulse of the arts community and houses iconic works like Norman Rockwell's "Rosie the Riveter" and Andy Warhol's "Dolly." Architecturally stunning, Crystal Bridges is now home to another architectural gem, the Bachman-Wilson house, a Frank Lloyd Wright design relocated to a hillside on the Museum's property. In a town where progress seems constant with the flurry of new construction, Bentonville’s quality of life initiatives were set in motion with this arts and cultural boom that brought with it the development of trails and pathways, parks and playgrounds. As cyclists and runners cross the beautiful bricked intersections of the downtown square, traffic pauses to watch pedestrians venture in and out of toy stores, boutiques, and coffee shops. In the fast paced world of global business, this town offers the vibe of a simple life of days past with modern amenities found in most urban centers. People that live and work in Bentonville also love to play, and many organizations host a multitude of events and festivals to keep all entertained. Themed celebrations on the square draw hundreds of people every first Friday of the month as well as activities surrounding the holidays. Farmer’s markets on Wednesdays and Saturdays fill the downtown square with fresh produce and proteins, baked goods, and magnificent flowers and plants. Chefs are spotted scouting out the days offerings collecting their fare to go back to their kitchens and prepare incredible menus all based on what is available, fresh and locally sourced. Bentonville’s culinary scene has exploded in the past several years. Nourishing a relationship with the James Beard Foundation, local chefs have performed at the famed Beard house in New York and have also been nominated for the foundation’s awards. The city’s culinary talent receives annual invitations to cook at Food and Wine festivals around the country showcasing their high south cuisine, southern comfort food with a sophisticated twist. Progress has not thwarted Bentonville’s small town charm. In fact, it has enhanced it, so much so that visitors often make return trips and are quick to tell their friends and family about this unassuming town. Bentonville truly is a town of culture, community, and beauty in northwest Arkansas.
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art Open Monday 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Closed Tuesday Open Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m.-6 p.m. www.crystalbridges.org for more information.
Northwest Arkansas is steeped in tradition when it comes to the local sourcing of food and that is well reflected in our culinary scene. Our chefs have wonderful relationships with local farmers and growers and buy, prepare, and serve what is available during each season. This seasonal preparation of local cuisine sparked a food movement several years ago that gave birth to what is known today as High South Cuisine. High South Cuisine is defined by retaining the original flavor profile of local Ozark ingredients and transforming simple Southern staples into sophisticated offerings. Bacon jam, Arkansas black apple butter, Ozark leg of lamb stuffed with black walnut sausage, rye whiskey-glazed pork belly are just a few such offerings created by Bentonville's culinary pioneers.
Spark Cafe

Spark Cafe

Sam Walton loved many things: his family, his country, his business, flying, and people. But right up there is also his love of ice cream. Butter pecan, to be exact. Alice Walton remembers many happy memories of often going for ice cream with her dad, something special the two of them shared. Becky Elliot, Sam’s secretary in his later days, recalls Sam calling her up to ask if she’d bring him his beloved sweet-and-creamy butter pecan when he was not feeling his best. Helen, Sam’s wife, was not thrilled with the idea and would remind Sam that it wasn’t good for him. But it made him feel good and likely brought back many fond memories. Helen, of course, understood. The Spark Café Soda Fountain is a tribute to Sam’s love of ice cream. The café proudly serves Yarnell’s, a family brand made in Searcy, Arkansas, not far from the Walmart Distribution Center. Albert Yarnell, founder Ray Yarnell’s son, remembers the days of delivering ice cream with his dad to Sam Walton’s Ben Franklin store in Newport, Arkansas. Yarnell’s was the very first ice cream Sam ever sold, so the tradition has been kept alive at The Spark Café. When you visit, you’ll notice a flavor in the scooping bin that looks VERY Walmart: Spark Cream. Custom-made for customers of the Spark Café, it’s a rich, flavorful ice cream in Walmart colors of blue and yellow. Ask for a taste of Spark Cream or any of the nine other flavors! The friendly staff will be glad to serve you as they do every day – with a smile. Click here to view the Spark Café's Menu

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