Features & Columns

Celebrating 20 Years of Occasions

Brittney Osborn Features & Columns

This August, Occasions Publishing Group is proud to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Jonesboro Occasions magazine.

Occasions Art Director Brittney Osborn designed a commemorative platinum 20th anniversary cover for the magazine’s milestone as we celebrate 20 years of Occasions with staff and readers this month.

Announcing the 2023 Readers' Choice Awards Winners

Brittney Osborn Features & Columns

The votes have been counted, and it’s finally time to make the results of Jonesboro Occasions’ 2023 Readers’ Choice Awards official.

Each July, Occasions introduces you to the very best of everything in Jonesboro as determined by our loyal readers. You voted, we tallied those votes for days and now the winners are presented in this issue.

We are thankful to everyone who took the time to share their favorite things about Jonesboro, from top picks for the city’s best food to shopping and entertainment venues and more.

We hope that our readers will use this list to help make all the important decisions in life—like where to have brunch, get coffee or see live music this weekend.

Congratulations to each of our winners!

A Canvas for the Community

Brittney Osborn Features & Columns

When Jonesboro’s Rachel Anderson took a recent trip to Northwest Arkansas, she returned with an idea to help beautify the community by turning mundane utility cabinets into canvases for local artists.

Hydro House: A Green Way to Grow

Brittney Osborn Features & Columns

As more people today want to know exactly where their food comes from and what’s in it, one couple is paving the way for their customers in Jonesboro to know exactly that. Randall and Amy Blankenship’s Hydro House, a home-to-community farm that specializes in growing lettuce, herbs, microgreens and mushrooms, has a mission to serve the community with fresh, home-grown, local, pesticide-free produce year-round thanks to its hydroponic greenhouse.

The Occasions Lady and Bluebirds of Happiness

Brittney Osborn Features & Columns

It was early spring when I noticed the first bluebird in our backyard. He was sitting on top of a blue birdhouse designed to look like a church that I bought last year.

We live just inside the bypass, not far from the thousands of vehicles that travel the interstate every day, so I was both surprised and delighted to see him perched on top of the small blue church.

A few days later, the female landed on top of another birdhouse that my son, Adam, had given me as a Mother’s Day gift. During the next few days, we realized she was building a nest in the blue church. I think that was the moment when I officially turned into a bird nerd.

The Cardiologist’s Wife: Understanding Ultra-Processed Foods

Brittney Osborn Features & Columns

The industrialization of food production in order to feed a growing population has led to cheap, mass-produced food-like substances that are nutritionally questionable. These ultra-processed foods, or UPFs, fill our grocery stores to the point that the average American now gets roughly 60% of his or her calories from foods like bars, cereals, frozen convenience foods, fast foods and snack foods. Ultra-processed foods have totally altered the way we eat, and not for the better.

The Cardiologist’s Wife: Improve Your Health With Bird Watching

Brittney Osborn Features & Columns

There is plenty of scientific evidence that time spent outdoors is good for people both physically and mentally. Besides exercise, nature provides positive benefits for our mood, mental health, psychological well-being and brain function. Hobbies also provide many of the same benefits, making us happier and less stressed, and by improving various skill sets. So, it makes sense that a hobby that takes us outdoors will increase those benefits, which is definitely a win. Bird watching is one such hobby and has the benefit of being something you can do anywhere and practically at any time, as birds live all around us.

Honor and Tradition: The Jonesboro Firefighters Pipes and Drums

Brittney Osborn Features & Columns

Fifteen years ago, Jonesboro Fire Department’s Ty Damron brought a longstanding tradition to the city’s fire department when he founded Jonesboro Firefighters Pipes and Drums, the first of its kind in the state of Arkansas. Today, the seven-member group is in high demand for public performances and for honoring loved ones at funerals and memorials, particularly within the public safety community.

The tradition of bagpipes and firefighters dates back to the after-effects of the Irish Potato Famine in the mid-1800s, causing an influx of Irish immigrants to the United States. Many of them turned to public safety jobs because that was one of the only jobs available to them, at a time where being a firefighter was an extremely dangerous and often fatal occupation. Many Irish firefighters died on the job, and because there were so many instances of bagpipes being played at an Irish firefighter’s funeral, the Irish tradition became synonymous with firefighters and eventually public safety.

A Desired Haven for Strong Families

Brittney Osborn Features & Columns

One of Arkansas Baptist Children & Family Ministries’ programs, Desired Haven Family Care, has been serving as a Christ-centered support system for vulnerable Jonesboro-area families since 2014.

The ministry first began in 1894, when Hannah Hyatt donated her home to vulnerable children in the state of Arkansas. Arkansas Baptist Children & Family Ministries (ABCFM) has since grown to include five areas of ministry, including Christian counseling, adoption, foster care, campus care and family stability and advocacy by way of Desired Haven Family Care. There are also plans to open a trauma-informed preschool in the near future.

The Occasions Lady and A Red Dress Gala to Remember

Brittney Osborn Features & Columns

Last month, the entire Occasions staff had the opportunity to get dressed up and enjoy attending the 16th annual Red Dress Gala at Centennial Hall on the campus of Arkansas State University.

Although many of our staff members attend events in the community on a regular basis, it is rare to be able to get everyone together. Typically, we are either covering events or volunteering at events, but rarely are all of us in the same place at the same time.

The Cardiologist's Wife: Treating Childhood and Adolescent Obesity

Brittney Osborn Features & Columns

For the first time in 15 years, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued new guidelines for treating childhood and adolescent obesity. These recommendations emphasize that obesity is not just the result of poor eating habits, a lack willpower or of exercise. Due to scientific discoveries over the last few decades, obesity is now considered a chronic disease with many related causes, including genetics.

2023 Red Dress Gala

Brittney Osborn Features & Columns

The 2023 Red Dress Gala was held Feb. 25 at Centennial Hall on the campus of Arkansas State University in Jonesboro. This year’s honorees included Dr. Willie and Honey Hurst, health advocates; David Daniel, Ed Way Community Service and Support Advocate; Kim Hauge, Red Dress Ambassador; First Community Bank, Professional Community Service and Support Honoree (more than 50 employees); Occasions Publishing Group, Professional Community Service and Support Honoree (fewer than 50 employees.) The ‘80s-themed event included dinner, live music and live and silent auctions. Pat Wolover and Taylor Kelso chaired the 16th annual Red Dress Gala with Harold Perrin serving as emcee for the evening.