Entertainment » Jim Harris

Nothing quite like April heat wave



A roundup of sorts after a wonderful Easter weekend:
Keep repeating it: There is nothing wrong with our weather. Yes, the polar ice caps are shrinking, and tornadoes are normal in downtown Nashville, Indianapolis and Fort Worth. But this all runs in cycles, certain people keep telling us.

It’s perfectly normal to be spending a late mid-April afternoon in Little Rock basking in 92-degree heat. Surely those folks back in 1937 were also probably crying about “global warming” back then when it hit 90 on the same day. It took 69 years to top it, and probably will take another 69 years for a new high — no worry at all (as far as you know).

We’re coaching 4-year-old tee-ball at the Junior Deputy park, and with the baseball season there ending before summer even arrives, it seems only fair that the little kiddies should bake some on the Astroturf field like it’s August in Arkansas. That’s what all of us did Monday. A little April scorcher is good for the soul.

The day before, some excessive April heat didn’t keep away the Travs’ faithful from Ray Winder Field. The ink was barely dry on last week’s column, criticizing the support the Travs regularly get, and — surprise — there were more than 4,000 fans soaking up the sun and fun of a day at the park, and they got a good game, albeit a Travs’ loss, 7-6.

The beer stand ran out of those Foster’s “oil cans” halfway through the game (Foster’s oil cans are dear to my heart; you could say a hearty sampling of them on Memorial Day 2001 indirectly resulted in me coaching 4-year-old tee-ball in 2006).

Some boisterous fellow in a Scotty Thurman No. 30 Hog jersey was hoisting beers as well as his arms, sometimes together, while leading the packed third-base bleachers in cheers Sunday. Folks looked happy throughout the stands, and they cheered loudly while the home team tried to rally. The Travs rolled out the tried-and-true fan contests between innings, and introduced a few new ones, to keep us all entertained. A nice breeze kept the shaded areas of Ray Winder feeling like April should.

Ray Winder Field should have lots more crowds like Sunday’s for the rest of the season. We loved the 4 p.m. start time and would like to see more. The Texas League All-Star game will be coming our way in June, and a season ticket to the Travs gains you admittance to the exhibition.

Don’t look now, but the Arkansas Twisters indoor football team is 3-0, with two-thirds of that accomplished on the road. The team doesn’t play at home again until April 29, when it takes on Tennessee Valley. From that point, the Twisters will play seven of their remaining 12 games at Alltel Arena, and we can only imagine the crowds growing to check out this team that’s putting up points by the truckload.

And, if the April heat wave is indication, indoors might be the best place to see football this year.

Riverfest three-day passes are now on sale for $7.50 at all Harvest Foods stores or by visiting the event website at www.riverfestarkansas.com. Since we last talked about Riverfest, you’ll note that Morris Day and the Time are coming back, and Christian rockers Lifehouse are also on the schedule. So, too, is PhatPhunction, a brassy concoction from Wisconsin that put on a great show a few years back. PhatPhunction will open for Kool and the Gang on the Friday opening night of this year’s Riverfest, May 26.

Remember, if you wait until the 60,000 advanced ticket supply runs out, it will cost you $15 at the gate. That’s at least a couple of beers, or a coke and some food that you’d save buying in advance.

We’ll take a hot Riverfest over a wet one any day.

John Czarnecki, Russ and Sue Melton and all the folks at Diamond Bear Brewery continue to brew up winners. Diamond Bear’s Pale Ale, which I fell in love with last football season at a Hog tailgate party, earned a gold medal at the 2006 World Beer Cup in Seattle, Wash. The Pale Ale was rated the No. 1 English Style Pale Ale in the World, the title it’s held since the 2004 competition (the World Beer Cup is held every two years at locations around the world). The field of entries grew 42 percent, to 2,221 entries from 540 breweries in 56 countries, since the 2004 Cup, held in San Diego.

Diamond Bear has won national or international awards for four years running: a gold medal for its Irish Red at the Great American Beer Festival in 2005, the gold medal in 2004 in the World Beer Cup for the Pale Ale, a bronze medal for the Irish Red in the 2004 World Beer Cup, and a silver medal for its Pale Ale at the Great American Beer Festival in 2003.

Diamond Bear continues to offer free public tours every Saturday, at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m., at the brewery, 323 Cross St., which is three blocks from the state Capitol. When it’s overheating outside, a brewery also seems like the place to be.

The Aerospace Education Center, the Little Rock Zoo and the Museum of Discovery have combined forces to offer families a discount ticket program called the Family Fun Pass. A $15 children’s Family Fun Pass and a $20 adult pass gets them into all three attractions –- a savings of $6 on each ticket. The tickets, available at each venue or by calling 603-0113, are good for one year from the date of purchase.

The MOD’s Jennifer Forest said the program was created with the help of Arkansas Destinations, a Little Rock company specializing in package tours. Another sponsor is the Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau.

While we’re thinking about it, “Magnificent Desolation” is a must-see at the Aerospace Center’s IMAX Theater. We can attest that 4-year-olds will love it, and unlike a lot of IMAX films, it’s not as hard on their sensitive hearing.

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