The Per­fect Brew

Beer, trails com­bine for good time

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - WHAT'S UP - — JO­CE­LYN MUR­PHY JMURPHY@NWADG.COM

Ac­ity’s trail sys­tem pro­vides more than an even path to walk on. Con­nect­ing parks or com­mu­nity des­ti­na­tions, col­lab­o­ra­tions be­tween restau­rants/ busi­nesses and out­door ac­tiv­i­ties, of­fer­ing a free al­ter­na­tive for ac­tive en­deav­ors — a com­pre­hen­sive trail sys­tem can im­prove the over­all health and qual­ity of life of a com­mu­nity.

“These trails are help­ing cre­ate a cul­ture or a life­style change in Fort Smith where it’s eas­ier for people to be health­ier. The more trails we build, in my mind, I feel like the higher the us­age will be,” says Casey Millspaugh with the Fort Smith Parks and Rec Com­mis­sion. “I also think when people look for places to live, they like cool things like [what a trail sys­tem can of­fer]. I’m not saying that’s the most im­por­tant thing, but it’s one of the 10 things they look for when they move to a city. It’s one of the 10 things that could at­tract people here.”

Millspaugh is also a co-di­rec­tor of the Ales for Trails Fes­ti­val, host­ing its se­cond an­nual event on Satur­day. The fes­ti­val, which raised more than $20,000 last year, brings to­gether more than 350 craft beers — and a whole day of fam­ily-friendly ac­tiv­i­ties — to raise funds for the Fort Smith trail sys­tem.

“Ev­ery­body in Fort Smith wants de­vel­op­ment on the River­front, so from the tax dol­lar stand­point, the money is go­ing to ex­actly what ev­ery­body in the city has wanted to hap­pen,” Millspaugh shares. Con­struc­tion be­gins Aug. 1 on the Greg Smith River Trail ex­ten­sion, which the money from the fes­ti­val will sup­port, in ad­di­tion to tax dol­lars, pri­vate funds and grant money. “A lot of young people [have been] in­volved in this fes­ti­val, and I feel like it’s a sym­bol of change in Fort Smith — young people stepping up, cre­at­ing some­thing cool to do, and rais­ing a sub­stan­tial amount of money to im­pact the city and the com­mu­nity.”

“Not be­ing from here, I can see the great po­ten­tial for Fort Smith,” adds Kath­leen Ory, an­other co-di­rec­tor. “With all the var­i­ous events we do down here, it’s just an­other rea­son people should come to Fort Smith for a night out and should want to move here. We’re re­ally pas­sion­ate about Fort Smith, and we want people to see that we have a good time here and have a lot of ac­tiv­i­ties go­ing on. I think ul­ti­mately, trails help with that, and I think the beer fes­ti­val is one of the [el­e­ments] that will help with re­vi­tal­iz­ing down­town.”

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