Hot Springs This Week


Hot Springs This Week is all about our wonderful city: things to do, interesting people, community information, and just about anything else that makes Hot Springs a top tourist destination!

Check back here for a new episode every 2 weeks


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Hot Springs This Week, Episode 19 (12/02/19) The Hot Water at Hot Springs
Part of what makes Hot Springs both special and unusual is, the downtown portion of the city is surrounded by Hot Springs National Park. If you’ve never visited, the main street through downtown is Central Avenue. One side of the street is the city, the other side is the iconic “Bath House Row.” In this episode, we visit with the HSNP Superintendent, Laura Miller.  From the famous thermal water, to the rehabilitation of the bath houses into privately owned businesses, to hiking and camping, you’ll hear it all from her.


Hot Springs This Week, Episode 18 (11/04/19) See Ya Later, Alligator!
One of the oldest and still operating attractions in Hot Springs features alligators, turtles, goats, wolves, peacocks, and rabbits. And the list of animals there is even longer than that, at the Arkansas Alligator Farm and Petting Zoo. In this episode, meet Jamie Bridges, the General Manager and one of the owners of this family based business. Its history dates back to 1902; it’s been a Bridges family operation since 1947.

How many alligators do they have? And what about the wolves? There’s supposedly a turtle that’s over 100 years old? And, has an alligator ever escaped? To get the answers, you’ll have to listen.


Hot Springs This Week, Episode 17 (10/22/19) Downtown’s Growth and Success, with Mark Fleischner
While many would say downtown Hot Springs is stronger now than it’s been in decades, the growth came in the wake of difficult challenges. The Hot Springs National Park was almost downgraded to a “historic site”; floods roared through the downtown business district in the early 90’s, sweeping cars down Central Avenue as though they were toys; and then came the fire at the once iconic Majestic Hotel. Downtown business leader Mark Fleischner was there for all of it. Now, the one time owner of Lauray’s recalls those years and what it took for downtown to get to its current booming state.


Hot Springs This Week, Episode 16 (10/07/19) Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival
The Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival is the longest running non-fiction film festival in North America. The festival this year is October 18-26th, with over 60 feature films, and at least that many shorts. HSDFF also includes workshops, panels, and educational opportunities for young people. Jen Gerber is the Executive Director, a former college professor and a film maker herself. We visit with Jen in this episode.

And, we visit with another Jenn, Jennifer Bailey, in our regular calendar round up of things to do in future weeks.


Hot Springs This Week, Episode 15 (09/22/19) Meet Mr Crappie
His real name is Wally Marshall, but he goes by “Mr. Crappie”, the the weekend of October 4-6, he’s bringing what he calls the biggest Crappie Tournament and Expo to Hot Springs. Taught to fish by his Grandmother, Wally is an angler, sportsman and a promoter. The Expo will feature a giant free crappie fry. On the heels of the FLW Bass Tournament in Hot Springs earlier this year, Lake Hamilton will again play host to anglers. This time, 100 two-man teams will take to the water in search of $100,000 in prize money.

Hot Springs This Week, Episode 14 (09/15/19) The Hotel Hale Story
For many years, the buildings that made up Bath House Row in Hot Springs were closed and shuttered. Years ago, the National Park Service entered into public-private partnerships, leasing the historic structures to people who wanted to house a business in one of those buildings. Bath House Row is a robust part of the Hot Springs Tourism business. The most recent to open is Hotel Hale, a boutique hotel with two separate dining rooms. Located in the former Hale Bath House, Hotel Hale is operated by Ellen and Pat McCabe. This conversation is with Pat McCabe, and as you’ll hear, Hotel Hale was years in the making.


Hot Springs This Week, Episode 13 (09/10/19)
The 4th Annual Spa-Con Convention is a three day celebration of everything from animation to cosplay, from Cult movies to laser tag. And that doesn’t even cover it all.  Our guest is Bill Solleder, Director of Marketing for Visit Hot Springs. When he joined the organization in 2016, planning for Spa-Con was already underway. So as you’ll hear, he had a lot of learning to do. We’ll discuss how Spa-Con has grown and what you can expect when you attend the annual convention.

I also talk with Jennifer Bailey from KLAZ about things to do in the coming weeks, and with Kimberly Bogart about levels on Lakes Hamilton and Catherine, plus the Ouachita River.


Hot Springs This Week, Episode 12 (08/26/19) Meet Mrs. Garvan of Garvan Woodland Gardens
In this episode, you’ll meet Verna Cook Garvan, the woman who donated the land that became Garvan Woodland Gardens. She died in 1993, so you’ll hear from her by way of Susan Harper, who has been with Garvan Gardens since its start. Over the years, she researched the life of Verna Garvan, and now speaks as Mrs. Garvan in public appearances, complete with wardrobe from that era.
By any measure of that time. Mrs. Garvan was an amazing woman, elevated to the CEO position of her father’s empire upon his death in 1934; a time period in which female CEO’s were a rarity. And as you’ll hear, many years of her life were personally difficult. The land donation to the University of Arkansas’ Fay Jones School of Architecture + Design came with legal stipulations and you’ll hear about them in this episode.
Plus, Jennifer Bailey joins us to run down things you can do in Hot Springs in the weeks ahead, and we visit with Kimberly Bogart of Entergy Arkansas Hydro Operations about the lakes and rivers controlled by the utility.

Hot Springs This Week, Episode 11 (08/19/19)
Another popular place in Hot Springs is the Mid America Science Museum. You’ll see dinosaurs when you walk in. There are a huge collection of static exhibits inside and outside MASM, over several natural acres. During the summer, they had a series of programs related to the 50th anniversary of the Moon landing. Voters in Hot Springs support the museum, and passed a measure allowing for construction of a new building to allow Mid-America to display larger traveling exhibits just months ago. The Museum started 40 years ago, and in this episode, we visit with Executive Director Diane LaFollette.

We’ll also look at the things to do in Hot Springs over the next few weeks with Jennifer Bailey from KLAZ, and a look ahead to lake and river conditions.


Hot Springs This Week, Episode 10 (08/13/19)
The story of Mountain Harbor Resort starts with a man taking his son fishing in a newly formed lake. Mountain Harbor Resort remains a very popular destination for everything from families to anglers to business conferences. Bill Barnes owns and operates the resort, and tells the story of how it started, the struggle to keep it going, and even disagreements with his Father years ago on the direction of the Resort. Like many of the conversations in this podcast series, we find out its really a story of being an entrepreneur.

Plus, Jennifer Bailey returns and we’ll run down events you can enjoy from this posting through Labor Day.


Hot Springs This Week, Episode 9 (08/05/19)
Louis Cella is the 4th generation of his family to oversee what is now Oaklawn Racing Gaming and Resort. As you’ll hear, it’s no coincidence that “Racing” comes first in the name. Oaklawn Park has been in operation since 1905. It’s now in the midst of a $110 million expansion; including a larger casino, resort hotel, and event center. In our conversation, Cella talks about everything from the expansion, to the family’s long love of and dedication to thoroughbred racing.

After the conversation, Bill Solleder from Visit Hot Springs joins me for a rundown of things to do in Hot Springs over the next couple of weeks, plus a quick preview of Spa-Con.


Hot Springs This Week, Episode 8 (07/29/19)
For three days in August, 52 of the best bass anglers in the world will converge on Lake Hamilton in Hot Springs for the FLW Forrest Wood Cup. Called by many the biggest bass tournament of all, they are competing for the first place prize of $300,000. In this episode, we talk with the FLW Director of Public Relations, Joe Opager. We’ll also hear from one of the anglers, Billy McCaghren of Mayflower, AR, who has earned his first ever chance to compete in the FLW cup.

Plus, we have our regular visit with Jennifer Bailey about things you can do in Hot Springs in the coming weeks.


Hot Springs This Week, Episode 7 (07/23/19)
This episode features a conversation with Robert Raines – the owner of the Gangster Museum, the first of its kind in America. Many people know that Hot Springs was a prime vacation spot for some pretty notorious members of the Mob. Robert has collected a lot of that history, and has great stories to tell about the mob members who came to Hot Springs, and how city leaders kept them from setting up shop here. Hot Springs was a wild place – and Robert has all the history, including how it all came to an end. Plus, a look at things to do in Hot Springs over the next few weeks.

Hot Springs This Week, Episode 6 (07/16/19)
This week, we visit with the man who makes magic and brings a smile during his show. Maxwell Blade has been performing magic in Hot Springs for many years, and recently completed the renovation of the historic Malco Theater. He talks about the difference between a “trick” and an “illusion,” how he develops his routine, and even how magicians share talents and/or copyright certain illusions. We taped our conversation at the theater. Plus, our weekly look at coming events you can enjoy in Hot Springs.

Hot Springs This Week, Episode 5 (07/08/19)
Baseball spring training actually started in Hot Springs, and led to a rich baseball history in the Spa City. In this episode, Baseball Historian Mike Dugan tells us the healing waters brought the players here, and shares his years of research in a wonderful story about players like Babe Ruth and Cy Young, who enjoyed more than just baseball and the healing waters while they were here. Plus, we’ll run down the things you can do while visiting Hot Springs over the next few weeks.


Hot Springs This Week, Episode 4 (07/01/19)
He was a Wall Street Money Trader – Now he’s a Hot Springs Pizza Maker. A conversation with Anthony Valinoti of Deluca’s Pizza – which writers have called the best Pizza in Arkansas. Plus, a look at events coming up for the 4th of July weekend.


Hot Springs This Week, Episode 3 (06/24/19)
Rose Schweikhart operates the first and only brewery in a National Park. In this episode, we hear the story of the Superior Bathhouse Brewery, plus a look at things to do in Hot Springs, AR over the next few weeks, including 4th of July events.

When Rose moved to Hot Springs and wanted to start a brewery using the natural Hot Springs water, she learned the only way to use the way was to actually brew in the National Park. So what was a historic yet vacant bathhouse became a restaurant and brewery, and it has exceeded expectations.


Hot Springs This Week, Episode 2 (06/17/19)
The history behind the iconic McClards BBQ with owner Scott McClard. The restaurant is going strong after 91 years, and you’ll be surprised to hear how it all started. (Hint: someone couldn’t pay their bill.) Plus, things to do starting the Wk of 6/17, and a quick look at lake information and projected flows to float the Ouachita River.


Hot Springs This Week, Episode 1 (06/10/19)
In this episode, we explore the things to do in Hot Springs, AR for the week of June 10th, and a few items beyond. This is the “get our feet wet” episode. Future episodes will also include interviews and information about the lakes around Hot Springs.