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Hope Chamber Banquet

By Scott Jester, 05/5/22 12:07 PM

It was overflowing at Hempstead Hall Monday night as a crowd of approximately 350 took part in the 2022 annual Hope Hempstead County Chamber of Commerce Meeting and Banquet.

Expertly catered by Amigo Juan Mexican Cafe’ in Hope, a mix of beef and chicken fajitas for the mainĀ course were complimented by a variety of flavor drizzled cheesecakes.

After the opening ceremonies were completed, keynote speaker Rex Nelson was introduced by Jamie Pafford-Gresham. The popular Nelson is widely known for his regular columns about the state found in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette.

Nelson had a positive message of how Arkansas’ best days were still ahead as a state.

He discussed from a historical perspective that in the early years in the development of Arkansas, it was known as a “violent place” coming out of Reconstruction. People also fled the state after numerous natural disasters and floods struck the state. Then, to have the nation’s eye turn to Little Rock Central High School and the “Little Rock Nine” integration standoff. .

Nelson discussed since the 1960’s the state moved forward under forward-thinking governors. Plus notable entrepreneurs moved or started their successful business in Arkansas including Bill Dillard, who started his “Dillard’s Department Store” in Nashville, before spreading to Texarkana and beyond.
Or J. B. Hunt trucking, who has made a name across the state moving goods and products of all kinds. Sam Walton, who lost his lease on his first five and dime store before launching out to Springdale to create retail titan Wal-Mart.

And, because if it “tastes like chicken”, it’s because more than likely, it’s an Arkansas-grown chicken under the Tyson family banner..

All these ingredients plus students graduating and staying in state and starting families here have the state moving upwards. As Nelson concluded to a standing ovation.

Awards were then presented as Citizen of the Year went to widely loved and respected Reverend Jessie Henry; Educator of the Year awarded to the ever energetic Jackie Brady of HAPS EAST Program. Nonprofit of the Year was awarded to the Hope chamber of the Junior Auxiliary and Business of the Year went to SWARK Today.

Lastly, it was announced via video that this year’s performer at the annual Watermelon Festival will be American Music Writer and Performer Uncle Kracker.

It was great to see smiles and not masks at this event and the size and enthusiasm of theĀ  crowd was a good sign of things to come for Hope and Hempstead County.