{ business directory }

FROM THE OUTSIDE

BY MADISON PITSCH

From the very start, Fort Smith naturally held a lot of appeal for me.

Coming from a town with a population of 2,000 in rural Missouri to a booming city is the dream, and I was lucky enough to get a chance to make that dream a reality. When presented with the chance to move to Fort Smith for the summer, I packed up my stuff, tucked away my Mizzou pride and hit the road.

I was really excited to be in a big city, because I was sure that I would never be bored. My jaw dropped to the floor when I found that I could stop in at a Cherry Berry, go to Target for a new dress and swing by Books-A-Million for the latest summer read. Never in my life have any of those places been so easily accessible.

I couldn’t believe I had ever lived without Ben Geren Park; mini-golf, tennis and running and bike trails? All in one spot?! Is this real life?

The Unexpected Project was astounding to me. I would see people lined up outside of restaurants and the Ferris wheel circling around, and there was no holiday or special occasion for it all. Just a typical Thursday in Fort Smith. My conclusion? Fort Smith sure knows how to throw a party!

The food has consistently been amazing; I doubt I’ve ever eaten so much fried okra in my life. You won’t find me complaining, though! And don’t even get me started on all of the local coffee shop options. You, Fort Smith, are the fuel to my happily caffeinated life. My quest to find the best cup of coffee is still in full swing. I love it. And the best part about it all? I’ve only discovered a fraction of it. My next stop on my “Tour de Fort Smith,”? Shopping! With all the locally owned boutiques and shops, I doubt it will be hard to burn a hole in my wallet.

I am very impressed by everything happening in Fort Smith. Yet, all of it pales in comparison to the community. I am proud to have been a part of this community, even if it was only for a summer. Your organizations and programs driven to care for the local community are unlike anything I’ve ever seen. You treat me like your own; every person I run into makes me feel like a friend. Fort Smith, I hope you know how special that is to find in a community this large.

So, yes, it wasn’t the typical Missouri summer for me. Was it hard not to be at home? Not really. Living here has impacted me in ways I didn’t know I needed. And I am grateful. This sweet, Southern town will go down as the place where I learned how to drive like a non-idiot, drank more coffee than I thought humanly possible in July, and discovered the true gem of Arkansas, The Fort.