By Joel Phelps
As I lay in my backyard hammock sipping beer one recent Sunday afternoon, a dreaded realization crept over me. It’s a feeling that so many like myself (you know you’re out there; don’t be shy!) get on a day otherwise filled with idle piddling.
I’d better check the ice chest and see how many I have left.
You race to open the cooler, shuffle through the ice and “count your blessings.” If you didn’t stock up on Saturday like the bootleggers you saw yesterday — loading their trunks with dollies stacked with cases of beer — there will be no joy found in grilling Sunday’s dinner.
It’s what I like to call a Blue Sunday, and it’s a fitting title given the Sunday prohibition of alcohol sales in Arkansas and several other states in the U.S. is what’s commonly called a Blue Law.
In North Carolina, for instance, hunting isn’t allowed on Sunday mornings. Ditto in Pennsylvania, except that one is allowed to hunt foxes, crows or coyotes, the devilish creatures they are. In numerous states it’s even illegal for a dealership to sell a car!
Back to Arkansas and alcohol: In early 2021, state Rep. David Whitaker (D-Fayetteville) filed House Bill 1748, which would have allowed the governing body of a city or county to call a referendum election for the sale of alcoholic beverages on Sunday. An applaudable effort by someone who might have found himself in my Sunday shoes a time or two. Unfortunately for Whitaker and other average Arkansans, the bill died in a Senate committee.
If you want beer or wine in the Natural State on a Sunday, you can find it in Eureka Springs, Tontitown, Mountain Home, Springdale or Altus (the latter of which, being the closest to Arkadelphia, is a three-hour drive). Likewise, you can pound some pavement and buy on the Texas side of Texarkana now that Bowie County is wet.
Before you run me out of town or call me a lowly sot, consider this: I actually wrote this column last fall and sat on it, unsure how it might be received. I’m still uncertain about that, but if Clark County leaders aim to model its future growth after the success of Northwest Arkansas, stop reading this for a minute and check out what’s happening in Rogers and Bentonville.
Told you there are others like myself out there.
I know, I know: we should all just be so thankful that we’re able to purchase beer in Clark County at all, right? I am grateful that the progressive efforts of an outspoken few between 2008 and 2010 led to our county going wet. The outcome of that election, at least for me, was a deciding factor of whether I would settle down in Arkadelphia. But — and hear me out on this — do any of my fellow libations lovers recall what it was like to drive an hour one way to make a purchase? Would it not be a somewhat comical turn of events if, say, Hot Springs residents took the occasional Sunday drive to Arkadelphia for beer or wine?
And consider the potential tax revenue we could collect from residents in surrounding counties. It likely wouldn’t fund the construction of a new school building overnight, but every little bit counts, right? It’s kinda like grilling burgers on a Sunday when you’re down to your last beer. Every little sip counts.
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