FAYETTEVILLE ROOTS FESTIVAL

For about 4 days in August every year, Fayetteville Town Center serves as MainStage for an intimate, urban music and food festival. Fayetteville Roots Festival features over 10 music stages, several culinary stages, and events throughout the week of the event, pairing national and local, undiscovered talent. From Folk, to Blues, to Bluegrass, to Jazz, to Country, and more, Fayetteville Roots Festival showcases diverse musical styles. Supporting local farmers, chefs, and restaurants is another focus of the festival. Its name intentionally is used to pay tribute to what makes where Northwest Arkansas lies in the Ozarks region unique.

Fayetteville Roots Festival is a staple within the Northwest Arkansas community, and even more specifically, Fayetteville. The community that collectively gathers in support of this festival is incredible. And the enjoyment that attendees have in hearing the music and tasting the food, is just as great. The environment is never overwhelming, and the event teams from Fayetteville Town Center and Fayetteville Roots Festival work together to ensure a smooth event.

It’s hard to say which part of Roots is my favorite. I have my own traditions, as this wasn’t my first annual festival. First, I raid the t-shirts because they are some of the softest that I’ve ever owned, and they have creative designs. The food is another outstanding part. With locally grown, organic food, everything on the menu is worth trying. The end of the night usually ends with a sweet treat, usually sorbet.

In 2018, Fayetteville Roots Festival hosted Parks and Recreation celebrity, Nick Offerman, who performed a comedy bit during his time on stage. (Don’t worry, I had a serious talk with him about his Cubs hat, which he was not permitted to wear in our photo.) This year, Turnpike Troubadours was supposed to come, but due to illness, they were not able to perform. However, as the community of Northwest Arkansas does, national and local musicians came together on stage to create a magnificent performance to replace the headliner. That’s the event world too. It’s ever-changing, and it requires being consistently adaptable to adjustments in timeline, production, catering, etc. I am always inspired by events that result in community collaborating to effective execute a seamless event, as if it should have happened that way in the first place. That feeling, of watching people come together to create, being a part of a team that supports that creation, it’s indescribable.

XO – MC

UPSIDE DOWN ROSES

I love what I do. As the Event Services Manager at Fayetteville Town Center, I get to work with varying clients in the event world – from corporate to non-profits, University of Arkansas events to weddings. With respect to each individual client, my involvement varies. With corporate clients, I usually handle everything from audio/visual to catering. Weddings and non-profit galas on the other hand, can involve vendors in production, photobooths and photography, catering (cake included), serveware and décor rentals, etc. and they all must adhere to a strict timeline. A timeline that was created by the external event planner that specializes in weddings, one who also organized all of the other vendors.

One of these external event planners is Buzz Events, local to Northwest Arkansas, specializing in extravagant events. Buzz Events owner, Bartus Taylor, and his Executive Assistant, Brandi Moore, are the dynamic duo that create stunning visuals for brides. This wedding, created and executed by Buzz Events, was no different. It was amazing.

I don’t think that any words could do it justice. So let me show you…

See what I mean? (Did you see the upside down roses?!) How cool is it – that I get to work with vendors like these to collaboratively create something as spectacular as this? They can take an empty, blank space into something that continues surprising you. Because of events like this wedding, I am inspired to work harder and be more creative, to continuously build on client’s experience with our venue.

As I should, here is credit to the vendors that worked countless hours to create such a magical evening:
Venue: Fayetteville Town Center
Event Design: Buzz Events
Florals: Buzz Events
Rentals: Buzz Events & Eventures Party Rentals
Lighting: Lightworks Events
Linens: LaTavola Linen
Catering: Elite Catering
Cake: Shelby Lynn’s Cake Shoppe

XO – MC

DALLAS WEDDING

Five years ago, a good friend of mine asked to borrow my guitar. I said that he could borrow it on one condition – he had to play a few songs for my roommates. So he came over to the townhouse that I shared with two of my college best friends, and played a few songs for us. Not to my surprise, he hit it off with one of my roommates.

My friends continued their relationship as I took time off from school, and moved back home. But I could tell their relationship was something special and that their love was growing. By the time that I moved back to finish my last year of school, my friends had all graduated and moved. We all reunited at my other roommate’s destination wedding (floral button-ups and captains hats were involved), and I knew that they were going to be together for ever.

So after a lot of college fun, graduation, a move to Dallas, multiple promotions, and two pups later, these two celebrated being together for five years by getting married. It was such an honor to witness their love for one another, and hear their self-written vows. My favorite part was when the bride repeated after the celebrant all the way to repeating “Let us pray”. Her laughter afterwords showed how much she was enjoying her wedding day.

Their venue was beautiful. It was nestled in the suburbs of Highland Village, TX and featured a chapel and reception space. From the clear chiavari chairs, to the beautiful in-house chandeliers, to the delicately arranged floral arrangements, I can tell why these two fell in love with the venue. And as someone who works in events daily, I noticed so many features to the venue that were not only aesthetically pleasing, but also functional for the operations side.

Beyond watching this couple take the next step into their lives together as one, I got to see several of our other friends, whom I hadn’t seen since that first wedding. It had been more than TWO YEARS. That was definitely two years too long. We went out to some random bars, reminisced about our college adventures, and ultimately went to bed early because that’s what happens when you’ve passed the age of a quarter of a century.

XO – MC

WHAT’S IN MY BAG?

When I was in New York, I carried around a Longchamp Le Pliage backpack, and it was the best thing to happen to me on the trip. For the daily 20+ mile walk each day in New York City, I felt the need to be efficient and prepared, since carrying a purse would get tiring and we were only in our hotel at the start and end of our days. A few of my friends asked me about what I would carry around in it before I left, as did my family when I landed in New York. Funny enough, I actually get this question a lot, because I am always carrying around a large purse or bag.

So. What are the essentials in my New York City backpack?

Let’s start with the most obvious – my iPhone. Yes, I’m definitely an iPhone user. We used our phones for navigation, communication with each other, photography, social media, music, etc. My phone even had subway routes mapped – it was so much easier to get around than the time I came to New York in 2011.

With that being said, I also brought extra portable power-banks and charging cords. Not only did I need an additional charge in the late afternoon, but several people in my family did too and they didn’t think ahead like I did. Using our phones all day really killed the batteries. My favorite one-charge power-banks are the Onn brand 6,700mAh, and my favorite all-time power-bank is the SHARKK brand 15,000mAh dual USB. The higher the mAh, the more “full” charges it has to give.

Of course I also brought a wallet. I chose a smaller version of my typical wallet – a navy Kate Spade cardholderIt’s my go-to for going out, going on trips, etc. so that I don’t have to carry around everything. I wanted to keep my debit card, ID, hotel key, and metro card on me at all times. I also felt the need to keep a little cash on me – just in case.

While we were in SoHo one day, I purchased a 9 oz. Swell bottle that could fit in my backpack. One thing that I forgot about on our first two days in NYC was to STAY HYDRATED. A lot of places offer free water, including Starbucks (and there is a Starbucks on just about every corner of New York City). I should have taken advantage of that sooner, especially by using a refillable bottle that keeps water cold for hours at a time. At the same time, being in the hospitality industry, I don’t like going into places for free water without buying something. So if I went into Starbucks, I would time it to buy a cake pop or a snack, and also ask for a (free) water.

It’s been a goal of mine to read more, and a perfect time to kickoff that goal was on the subway in NYC. So rather than a bulky book, and having to worry about finishing one and not having a second to start, I brought my Kindle Paperwhite. It’s honestly the best, and I’m so glad that I’ve invested in the Paperwhite over the other e-readers in the market, including the Kindle Fire, or even reading on my iPhone/iPad. The backlighting is adjustable, so your eyes don’t hurt and it looks like you’re reading an actual book. I also bought a Kindle-brand smart cover that keeps the screen protected from potential scratches.

Pens are one of my favorite items. I have a preference of pens for particular tasks, but those have changed overtime. For example, now my planner/notebooks are typically all written with a Bic Atlantis black pen and my leads at work are written in Paper Mate Flair Felt Tip Marker Pens. So of course, I had a few pens in my bag. You know, just in case.

I regularly carry around a few beauty and hygiene essentials, so I added these to my NYC backpack too. Glossier’s Balm Dotcom is my first go-to. I have almost every flavor. I also keep a roll-on perfume, because walking about 20 miles away in the heat of summer, can definitely wear off the perfume I put on in the morning. Gum is not really my thing, so I keep some extra mints on me at all times. I mean, I wasn’t going to brush my teeth in the restaurant’s bathroom.

Lastly, my AirPods were a lifesaver when walking the 20+ miles around the streets of NYC each day. I had a Spotify playlist going almost always, and the navigation on my phone would speak through it – so if I did get lost, I didn’t look like a tourist staring at my phone or spinning around in circles for directions.

I’ll always vary what I carry with me, based on where I’m going or what I’m doing, but those are some of my essentials that I keep pretty consistent in whatever bag I carry!

XO – MC

MONDAY – NYC

D A Y • F I V E

This day started off a little differently than the others of our trip. One of my sisters went to explore the city on her own, so my youngest sister, my parents, and myself took a ferry ride… to Staten Island.

How beautiful does New York City look from a ferry boat? It almost looks small. I know it isn’t small; there are hundreds of thousands of people walking on the streets in between those buildings and on each floor of each skyscraper. As we pulled away from the New York Harbor, I realized that as much as I loved walking along Madison or Fifth, seeing the city from a view on the water was its own form of beautiful.

On our way to schedule a ferry ride to see the island, we were almost scammed. We got off the train and were met by someone who was dressed like a tour guide. After taking us on a 5+ block walk, the young man started saying that we had to go to an ATM because they didn’t have card readers. We went to the ATM, but didn’t give him the money yet. We asked to see the accommodations first. So he took us to a very uncomfortable looking bus, at which point I had a weird gut feeling, and my family and I turned around almost immediately. We noticed the brochure looked dated, possibly hinting that it was stolen from another company and trying to be passed as marketing for this scam. And when we asked if  the boat pictured was the boat we were going to be on in the water, they couldn’t give us a straight answer. We soon realized that the Staten Island Ferry was free of charge, and boarded the next one to arrive in New York Harbor.

While we were on our way to Staten Island, my younger sister and I had a mini photoshoot – as one does when they’re on the ferry with the wind in their hair. My younger sister has truly grown so much over the past several years, and I am proud of the young woman she is becoming. Year after year, I’ve realized that I have more pictures of her than anyone else, and that is because I’ve truly watched her grow. I remember the day she was born, and I remember when I convinced her that “lefties were cool”, and I remember when she cut her hair to get bangs like me – and hid under the kitchen table when she realized what she had done. I remember when one day, she was all of a sudden a really great reader, and I remember when she found her voice and made her first joke.

I would have loved to see Ellis Island, and the Statue of Liberty, but we had to prioritize. We had plans for the afternoon and evening, and we were so hungry on the ferry ride. As soon as we arrived to Staten Island, we walked up a long flight of stairs and entered the first restaurant we could find. It was a small diner on the edge of town, with a lot of character. None of us argued, we all just sat down and ordered a sub-par burger on the outskirts of town. THAT hungry.

On our way back, we started to talk about our plans for the rest of the day. The plans involved another “island” – but nothing like Staten Island. This “island” features amusement parks, and is part of the Brooklyn borough – Coney Island. Coney Island, despite its name, is actually a peninsula to the west of Long Island. It was originally an island separated from Brooklyn by Coney Island Creek, but in the 1920s-1930s, a large section of the creek was filled as a part of a land and highway development.

As soon as we got off the train from Staten to Coney, we immediately rode the Cyclone rollercoaster. Well my dad, my sister, and I did. I almost lost my sunglasses when we flew dow one of the hills, but it was a blast.

After the rollercoaster, we made it to the boardwalk. My sister made me take a couple dozen photos of her, and then we just explored. Though we didn’t ride any of the rides in Luna Park, we enjoyed being near the water, and seeing everything that Coney Island had to offer.

Have you ever heard of of Nathan’s Hot Dogs? I’m sure you have. They’re everywhere. Well, they started on Coney Island as a hot dog stand over 100 years ago. So it would only make sense for us to visit the original location, new and improved storefront.

Like the tagline on the storefront says, “The flavor of New York since 1916.” It was definitely a great treat, followed with sorbet from Coney’s Cones. I typically am just a ‘ketchup and sometimes mustard on my hot dog’ kind of girl, but my dad will try anything and definitely enjoyed a few original Nathan’s with a Coney Island brew.

After our afternoon and evening exploring Coney, we got back on the Subway towards our final stop of the day. Unfortunately, we were on the longest trip possible due to delays. It took over an hour. Though it was our only delay within this trip to NYC, I understand why New Yorkers complain about them.

We ended the night with a very sweet treat, at Serendipity 3. A very unique and narrow entryway, the restaurant has been there since 1954, and is well known for its extravagant desserts – my favorite meal.

This was my last night in New York City, and it ended a sweet one.

XO – MC

SUNDAY – NYC

D A Y • F O U R

So funny story. I left my AirPods charging next to my bed. Completely forgot them before I left for the airport. I had my old iPhone headphones with me, but they’re the ones that don’t really fit to your ears, so listening to music and podcasts as I walked around NYC and rode the Subway was a little uncomfortable. Anyways, the girl who was watching Marley for me went to pick them up and shipped them to me. Unfortunately, the hotel my family was staying at was under some construction and the postal worker didn’t deliver my AirPods to the hotel, but the main postal office a few blocks down from our Chelsea hotel.

On my way to the post office, I walked past a really cool wall of murals by different artists. They all shared a similar “hashtag”, #brickfit. There were some really cool pieces, and I enjoyed getting to see the artwork.

I made my way to the post office which was also connected to Penn Station. It was not what I expected inside. The lobby was a long aisle of teller windows and surprisingly it was not very busy. After meeting with a few of the tellers, we finally found my package and I made my way into Penn Station.

There was a really cool event going on at Madison Square Garden but I didn’t catch any great pictures. The newest class of New York Police Department rookies were graduating from the Academy. The security was insane – which I understand considering the way our service men and women are disrespected in current events.

My sisters and I spent almost the entire day shopping. First, my sisters said that they would meet me at Glossier. I mapped out the subway I needed to take to SoHo and headed that way. What my sisters forgot to tell me, is that in addition to the insane late summer heat, there would be a line wrapped around the Glossier building that would take at least 45 minutes to get through. And even better, my sisters weren’t there yet. So for about 25 minutes, I waited in line, by myself. It’s a really good thing that I picked up my AirPods today and that they were fully charged.

After being in line for almost an hour, we finally made it upstairs. I stood in front of the fan for almost the entire time. I did buy some balmdotcom though. We then headed to some of the more affordable stores and boutiques, while also making some stops at some of the less affordable ones.

After we shopped, we headed towards St. Peter’s Catholic Church for Sunday Mass. Our sister and mom met up with us, and funny enough, the air conditioning was out. So it was hot inside too.

Our next stop really moved me. The last time I was in New York City, the 9/11 Memorial & Museum was not complete. This time, I actually had the chance to see it. When we stepped into the memorial area, the mood was solemn and it was very quiet. It was so peaceful. And I immediately felt that I needed to step away from my family and walk the memorial alone.

My memory of September 11th, 2001 is different than most. I was alive, but I remember September 11th, 2002 much clearer. In 2001, I was in the 3rd grade and my private, Catholic, K-8th school didn’t tell us what happened. And neither did my parents. The next year, I switched schools, to another private, Catholic school. But this school gathered all of the students outside and though it’s a vague memory, I remember standing outside with my classmates, many people were in tears, and we had a brief ceremony surrounding the flag. I didn’t understand why we were gathered. As the years go on, that is really the only memory that stands with me through that day.

Everyone visiting the memorial maintained quiet in respect for those who passed on that sad day, almost 17 years ago. Walking around the memorial was filled with sadness, but also a sense of community. To think back on that day, and all of the service men and women that came together selflessly to rescue as many people as they could from the horror that day. I can’t believe it’s been almost 17 years – seeing all of those names made it a little more realistic for me.

A few of the names affected me, but it was actually the words that followed their name that brought me to tears – “and her unborn child”. Until seeing these words at the memorial, I am saddened to say that I never thought about the expecting mothers who may have passed when the World Trade Center was attached by terrorists. I couldn’t imagine that great of a loss.

Something I did notice were a few lone, white flowers laid into the letters of a few names. I heard that the white rose in a name meant that day was their birthday. There is someone employed every day to take white roses to each name on their birthday. That restores a little bit of my faith in humanity, and the City of New York. We even saw the only building that stayed standing throughout the attacks, which was pretty incredible.

After the memorial, my mom, sisters, and I all went to see the Brooklyn Bridge. We made it about a quarter of the way into it… but to be honest, we were all getting hungry and thirsty. So we turned around.

At the end of the evening, we had a very late (almost 10:00 p.m.) dinner at a really cool restaurant down the street from my sister’s dorm. It was peaceful, candlelit, and ended with sorbet.

XO – MC

SATURDAY PT 2 – NYC

D A Y • T H R E E

Click to read SATURDAY PT 1.

Walking from 5th Avenue towards where planned to meet our sister was going to be pretty impossible to do quickly, since we needed to get from the Upper East Side to Greenwich Village.  The views towards the subway were pretty beautiful though. One of my favorite parts about New York City that I just can’t get enough of is its history, and the beautiful buildings that have been homes to different storefronts, offices, hotels, etc. There’s always something new to see around each corner, and that never gets old.

There was a little symbolism behind the shirt I chose for this day in New York. Did you check out my last post to see what I was wearing Saturday morning for a hint? If not, here’s another one: it had to do with our next stop – 90 Bedford St. New York, NY. Okay, okay. I’ll be there for you with the real reason, because you’re probably over the hints. Please don’t stop reading, I promise this is The One With the answer on where we went next.

At the corner of Bedford and Grove is Monica Geller’s Apartment from the show, Friends. I was not allowed to watch this show when I was younger, but as soon as the show came to Netflix, I binged all of it. It’s one of my favorite shows to watch, and I actually have a 24″x36″ black and white, framed poster of the cast in my house. My sisters and I posed for a picture in front of the building, and soon enough we were asking each other what was for dinner. We didn’t know where to go, so we walked around Greenwich looking for something that caught our eyes.

My sister said that Greenwich was one of her favorite areas while living in New York. and I could tell why. There was a lot more greenery and it was filled with homes, boutiques, and some amazing restaurants. The people were a little friendlier and more approachable while we were touring. We stopped at a restaurant that had vegan and gluten-free options, and we sat outside. It was the most perfect weather and I’m so glad we did. Since my sister is vegan and I’m gluten-free (yes, the noodles below were gluten-free), it was the perfect place for us to all have dinner – and they had sangria.

After dinner, we walked to another well-known landmark – Washington Square Park. There’s a lot of history with this park and the Washington Square Arch, which is probably what most thing about when they hear “Washington Square”. There are statues for notable Americans such as George Washington himself, and the original arch to the park was built in celebration of the centennial of his inauguration to the presidency. We spent some time in the fountain, as other tourists did, and just enjoyed each other’s company.

It was a lot of fun. We were going to have to say goodbye to our sister, as she had an early day on Sunday, but first dad let us stop by a place called DŌ. Talk about the best dessert ever. The Founder/Owner/CEO of DŌ, Kristen Tomlan, is actually from St. Louis (as I am); it was cool to see another St. Louisan’s success in such a visual way.

We parted ways with my sister, and made our way to Times Square for a final touristy destination. I genuinely could not believe how many people were there. How could so many people be in one place at one time? It was a little overwhelming. But I loved the lights and the movement and the color.

We bought a few souvenirs from a gift shop, an NYPD shirt for myself included, drank our weight in water because we all realized how dehydrated we were, and called it a night.

XO – MC