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The State Parks of Arkansas - The Natural State: E-Newsletter

(New Display at Williams' Tavern)

 Join Us for a Rare and Momentous Occasion!
Historic Washington State Park Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013
Williams' Tavern Restaurant will be serving BREAKFAST! Yes, you heard right, gentle reader...a breakfast buffet is on your horizon. You do not see this often, so do not miss it!

Buffet Menu





Scrambled eggs

Orange juice, coffee, water

(Watermelon Salsa)
And that ain't all!
The Watermelon Weigh Off follows as Historic Washington State Park on Saturday, Aug. 31, will be filled with fun activities and giant watermelons. This is addition to the Farmers' Market and all of the great things to do while you are at Historic Washington State Park.

7-11 a.m.: Registration for the watermelon weigh-off.

                Seed spitting and watermelon relay all morning

7:30-11 a.m.: Williams Tavern Restaurant will be open for breakfast

8-11:30 a.m.: Watermelon carving contest begins ($5 entry fee)

9:30 a.m.: Melody Boys will perform

10 a.m.: Recipe Tasting Contest (prepare a recipe using watermelon)

11:30 a.m.: Judging of the Carved Watermelons

11:30 a.m.: Announcement of Watermelon Weigh Off Winners

Saturday August 31st Free park programs!

10:30 a.m. – Children’s Stories at the 1836 Courthouse.

1:30 p.m. – Meet Grandison Royston at the Royston Town Home.

3:30 p.m. – The James Black Story at the Blacksmith Shop.

Read more about it -

On Saturday, August 31, the Hope-Hempstead County Chamber of Commerce in cooperation with the Old Washington Farmer’s Market will host an official watermelon weigh-off site for the Great Pumpkin Commonwealth in Washington, Arkansas. The Great Pumpkin Commonwealth provides official venues for growers to weigh several varieties of fruit and vegetables, including watermelons, across the country. They then give prizes for the largest weighed item of type across the country. 
This will be the third year an official weighing station has been hosted within Hempstead County. If anyone is interested in preparing a watermelon for entry, now is the time to do it. This official weigh off event will be for watermelons ONLY. Prizes totaling $1,000 will be given out for the top three largest watermelons. Only one official entry will be considered per farmer or team. Preregistration is not required for the event. For more information on the weigh-off contact Josh Williams at 870-703-8256 or at  Washington, Arkansas is located on Hwy 278 West just eight miles north from Exit 30 at Hope on US Interstate 30.

After all of that morning fun, everyone will want to cross the street to eat at the Williams' Tavern for lunch and try out the Bison Burger. This will be a true taste of history as the big shaggies (buffalo) at one time roamed Arkansas, in addition to the great plains. You can get your picture taken while eating a bison burger and brag to all of your friends about the experience.

Junior Naturalist Group formed at Historic Washington

The park is sponsoring a group devoted to learning about the natural elements of the park in our time, while keeping in mind the learning objective of discovering what natural resources were here for early settlers. This will provide a look at what has changed and what has remained the same over the last two centuries. The group will assist the park in building a Natural Resource Identification Database which will be available to enrich the experience of all visitors in the future.

During the first meeting, the group of eleven people learned about dirt. People traveled across dirt to settle on dirt and plant the crops in dirt. Park gardener, Gary Martin led the group through a program that allowed the participants to analyze the dirt in the park to determine its make up, basically, sand, silt, and clay. He also discussed how the dirt or soil could be amended to be more productive by adding compost. This lead to a lively discussion on composting. Participants were anxious to analyze their own dirt when they returned home. Our next meeting will feature Water!

Coming Soon!  Town in Conflict - A street drama!

Receipt and Recipe
Williams' Tavern Restaurant will be open this Saturday for breakfast. Breakfast always makes me think of biscuits and gravy. I am partial to my momma's biscuits and grave, but I also remember fondly that of my mammaw, Aunt Ina, and Aunt Oma. Each onel made theirs in very different ways. I wish I remembered enough to copy each one.
Find those cooks in your family and gather their recipes now so you can pass on cooking traditions.


For the biscuits:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter (1 stick), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 cup cold buttermilk

For the gravy:

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 12 ounces uncooked breakfast sausage, casings removed
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt, plus more as needed
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3 1/2 cups whole milk
For the biscuits:
  1. Heat the oven to 425°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.
  2. Whisk together the measured flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl to aerate and combine. Add the butter pieces and toss to just coat them in the flour mixture. Place the bowl in the freezer for 10 minutes.
  3. Using a pastry blender or 2 knives, and working quickly so as not to soften the butter, cut the butter into the dry ingredients until it’s in pea-size pieces. Drizzle in the buttermilk and stir just until a moist, shaggy dough comes together.
  4. Generously dust a work surface with flour. Scrape the dough out onto the surface and dust the top with more flour. Using floured hands, gently pat the dough into a 1-inch-thick circle.
  5. Using a 2-1/2-inch round cutter dipped in flour, cut out as many biscuits as possible (press straight down through the dough—do not twist the cutter, or the biscuits will not rise properly). Transfer the biscuits to the prepared baking sheet, spacing them at least 1 inch apart. Gather the scraps into a ball, pat it into a 1-inch-thick circle, and cut out more biscuits. Repeat as needed until you have 8 total. Discard any remaining dough.
  6. Bake until the biscuits have risen and are golden brown on top, about 15 to 16 minutes. Transfer them to a wire rack. Meanwhile, make the gravy.

For the gravy:

  • Heat the butter in a large frying pan over medium-high heat until foaming. Add the sausage and cook, breaking it up into smaller pieces with a wooden spoon, until the meat’s no longer pink and is starting to brown, about 5 minutes.
  • Reduce the heat to medium. Sprinkle the sausage with the flour, measured salt, measured pepper, and cayenne. Cook, stirring frequently, until the raw taste of the flour has cooked off, about 1 minute.
    Gradually stir in the milk, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally.
    Continue simmering, stirring often, until the mixture has thickened slightly, about 1 minute more (the gravy will continue to thicken as it sits).
    Taste and season with additional salt and pepper as needed. Keep warm.
    To serve, split the biscuits in half horizontally and top with the sausage gravy.

    Ways to Be Involved

    Volunteer! Call Vicky at 870-983-2558 or email

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    Special RatesCoupon - $1.00 off Horse drawn surrey ride.

    Group Rates - Book a reservation for your group of 20 or more and everyone gets $1.00 off.

    Annual Passes - Unlimited visits and special events-Individual -$20.00 or Family- $30.00

    For more information - 870-983-2684


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      Historic Washington State Park
    P.O. Box 98
    Washington, AR 71862

    Phone: (870) 983-2684
    Fax: (870) 983-2736

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