June 2023

Texarkana Magazine

JUNE • 2023

TEXARKANA MAGAZINE June | 2023 | Volume 4 | Issue 6

50. cover/LIFE From Pigskins to Beefmasters 58. LIFE Hold the Phone


10. BUSINESS Goldcrest Farms 16. POLITICS USDA Enhances Organic Markets

36. ENTERTAINMENT Good Evening TXK 40. SPORTS Make it Rein



62. TXK 411 An Easy Guide to Compost 64. THE MONTHLY MIX Father’s Day Style 66.

20. COMMUNITY The Butterfly Effect 28. CULTURE Farm to Fork

TXK ROOTS Justin White



What was the name of your first pet?

CASSY MEISENHEIMER Bozo Alaskan Malamute



ALANA MOREL Scooter Mutt



LEAH ORR Cowboy Sweet Mutt Puppy



SHAWN EDMONDS Tiger Miniature Dachshund

ANGELA EVANS I never had a pet.


BAILEY GRAVITT Max Yorkshire Terrier

MEGAN GRIFFIN Crayon Goldfish

TAMMY LUMMUS Huffy Cocker Spaniel

PATSY MORRIS Bruno Dachshund




txkmag.com letstalk@txkmag.com 903.949.1460 OFFICE 911 North Bishop Street Building C • Suite 102 Wake Village, Texas 75501 MAIL 2801 Richmond Road #38 Texarkana, Texas 75503


M y dad, Jay Simmons, has always been a hard worker. When I was a little girl, I remember riding with him in the back of 18-wheelers to deliver trucks to clients over the weekend. I remember thinking the bed in the back for taking naps during the ride was the coolest. I also remember spending many Saturday mornings watching television in my dad’s office while he worked. (Do you remember that commercial showing the eggs in a frying pan? The “This is your brain on drugs,” message seemed to play on repeat during the Saturday morning TV show lineup.) We still talk about one particular story from our Saturday morning adventures. We can now even laugh about it, even though it wasn’t exactly funny at the time. My dad was calling on a customer, and he left me in his vehicle asleep while he ran inside to check on him. I woke up while he was still inside, and apparently, I was bored. I decided it would be fun to “pretend” to drive the truck. I took the pretending a step too far and put the vehicle in drive. As my dad ran toward me, trying to open the door so he could jump in and put the truck in park, I ran it through the customer’s shop. It was a surreal moment. I can still remember being wide-eyed and terrified as I realized I was actually going through that building.

It definitely made a lasting impression on the business owner, who remains my dad’s loyal customer today. That’s when I knew my dad must be good at business. Who else could have salvaged a good working relationship with that customer after the mess I had made? My bad! As an adult, reflecting on my dad’s hard work, I am so proud of everything he has accomplished. I have watched him start at the bottom and work extremely hard to make his way to the top. It took sacrifice, determination, wins, failures, commitment, risk, and many other impressive qualities to get to the place he is in today. I try to look to him and the path he paved while running my own business. It is never as easy as it seems to those on the outside. This is our agriculture and outdoor issue, and it is one of our favorites. Every single story represents hard work. It takes grit and determination to get through the ups and downs of running a business. It is long hours in all the elements, and we stand in awe of those willing to do what it takes. Enjoy all these stories and remember to celebrate Dad this month on Father’s Day.

terri@txkmag.com SHELBY AKIN shelby@txkmag.com ALANA MOREL alana@txkmag.com KARA HUMPHREY kara@txkmag.com LEAH ORR leah@txkmag.com BRITT EARNEST britt@txkmag.com BRITTANY ROBLES brittany@txkmag.com MATT CORNELIUS matt@txkmag.com




Stay cool,


Texarkana Magazine is a multimedia publication showcasing the Texarkana area and is designed and published by Cardinal Publishing, LLC. Articles in Texarkana Magazine should not be considered specific advice, as individual circumstances vary. Ideaology, products and services promoted in the publication are not necessarily endorsed by Texarkana Magazine .





F arming is a second language to some and a foreign affair to many. Whether familiar or foreign to local Texarkana residents, it might surprise many that one of the largest farms in the United States sits in our backyard. Located along the riverbanks of the Red River and Highway 82, just 28 miles from Texarkana, Arkansas, and Interstate 30, Goldcrest Farms covers 25,000 acres of Southwest Arkansas. Almost twice the size of Manhattan, Goldcrest Farms features a new state-of-the-art irrigation structure, allowing for high productivity, low cost, and sustainable farming. In 2018, Goldcrest Farm Trust Advisors, an investment management company specializing in row-crop farmland in the United States, saw an opportunity to invest in a run-down piece of land with ample potential. In partnership with Valmont Industries, the company began a full-scale redevelopment of Goldcrest Farms. The goal was to realize this potential by retrofitting the land with new, best-in-class irrigation technology, offering modern sustainability solutions that lower water usage and improve an operator’s bottom line. Interestingly, investors like Goldcrest are attracted to farmland for its low correlation to both stocks and bonds and the opportunity to diversify their portfolio. “We saw a farm with great bones and a lot of potential,” Co- founder, President, and COO Edward Hargroves said. “Similar to how one proudly names a child after a parent or grandparent, we named this farm after our company. It’s our flagship farm.”

Goldcrest Farm Trust owns farmland across the United States, with Goldcrest Farms in Miller County being the largest. As part of Goldcrest Farms’ redevelopment, the company built two giant pump stations to pull water from the Red River. The water is then distributed across the farm through an 80-mile network of newly installed pipeline to efficiently irrigate via flood or pivot. To put this in perspective, the farm can pump enough water to fill an Olympic swimming pool in less than five minutes. Goldcrest Farms is capable of producing a diverse crop mix, including rice, cotton, corn, soy, wheat and small grains, at scale. With proximity to key consumer packaged goods (CPGs) such as Walmart, Tyson, Conagra, and Anheuser-Busch, branding opportunities— indeed, the ability to trace large crop volumes to a single farm source—are bountiful. With a focus on row crops, Goldcrest Farms’ annual corn production potential is equivalent to the amount that Hong Kong consumes every two and a half years. Farming efficiency is a top priority, and the large size and the advanced infrastructure and technology allows for more manageable farming and economies of scale. Reduced steps from “farm to fork” lower transportation costs, and reduced administration benefits the farmers and land. Sustainability is a key to Goldcrest Farms Trust Advisors. After acquiring the land, they cleaned or added 33 miles of irrigation ditches, reservoirs, and bayous to improve drainage and enable




We want to be part of the community. We will be doing creative thinking to find ways to connect with Texarkana and its surrounding areas. ” —Edward Hargroves

sustainable water recapture. In addition, they precision-leveled over 7,000 acres of farmland to engage a rice or furrow irrigated cropping option that limits erosion and nitrogen runoff. The turbine pumps offer larger volume/low flow for precise depth of water application, and pivots have Low Elevation Spray Application and Low Energy Precision Application systems. “Our goal is for Goldcrest Farms to be a model in large-scale sustainable food production and a hub for US agriculture,” Hargroves said. “We want to continue to invest in the region.”

operators who are good land stewards and plan to lease long-term. More than anything, Hargroves expressed his desire for Goldcrest Farms to be part of the community. “COVID delayed our ability to build relationships and rapport with the area,” Hargroves said. “We want to be part of the community. We will be doing creative thinking to find ways to connect with Texarkana and its surrounding areas.” According to myrecordjournal.com , the global population and demand for food are steadily increasing. This increase calls on farmers to increase

Before its acquisition, Goldcrest Farms was locally owned for several generations and primarily used as farmland. Goldcrest Farm Trust Advisors chose to capitalize on the recreational and wildlife opportunities—including deer and waterfowl hunting—by establishing a premium corporate hunting retreat. The acreage on Goldcrest Farms is currently leased to a number of tenants. Goldcrest Farm Trust Advisors pursue established farm

crop production, increasing farmland value. With its focus on sustainability and food security, Goldcrest Farms adds a valuable component to the Texarkana region. The future of farming is bright, and it is exciting to know that Goldcrest Farms will allow our area to set the standard for success in the agriculture world—whether you speak the language or not.





A griculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is taking additional steps as part of its commitment to strengthen the market for domestically grown organic goods, and to support producers seeking organic certification. These funding opportunities are part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Organic Transition Initiative, launched in fall 2022, which is a suite of offerings to help existing organic farmers and those transitioning to organic production and processing. “As USDA works to help make our nation’s food system more resilient and create more options for producers and consumers, we recognize the important role the organic industry can play in expanding opportunities for value-added agriculture, strengthening supply chains and generating revenue for farmers,” Vilsack said. “For many farmers, the transition period before attaining organic certification can be cost-prohibitive, so USDA is also helping mitigate the risk involved for farmers who want to be able to grow and market organic crops.” Consumer demand for organically produced goods surpassed $67 billion in 2022, and multi-year trends of strong growth in the sector provide market incentives for U.S. farmers across a broad range of products. However, through public comment and listening sessions USDA has heard that producers may be less willing to commit to the three-year transition to organic certification because of risks related to inadequate organic processing, storage, and handling capacity, cost barriers due to limited markets for rotational crops, a lack of certainty about market access, and insufficient supply of certain organic ingredients. The organic livestock and processed

product markets depend heavily on imported agricultural products for feed grains and key ingredients. These are longstanding market issues that were brought into sharp focus due to the impacts of the pandemic and international conflicts in critical overseas organic supply regions, resulting in limitations on certain domestic organic products in the face of rising demand. Both opportunities announced today help to address these challenges. Organic Market Development Grants Program Through the new Organic Market Development Grant (OMDG) Program, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) will issue up to $75 million in competitive grants. Eligible entities include business entities who produce or handle organic foods, non-profit organizations, tribal governments, and state and local government entities to fund projects designed to expand and improve markets for domestically produced organic products. OMDG is intended to increase the consumption of domestic agricultural commodities by aiding in the expansion of markets or development of new markets, marketing facilities, and uses for such commodities. For example, applicants may seek funding to develop and launch new consumer products using rotational grains, or invest in infrastructure like processing equipment to give producers better access to markets. Through OMDG, AMS encourages applications that serve smaller farms and ranches, new and beginning farmers and ranchers, underserved producers, veteran producers and underserved communities. AMS is accepting applications for the program now through July 11, 2023.




Cost Share for Organic Certification As part of USDA’s broader effort to support organic producers and in response to stakeholder feedback, this year the Farm Service Agency increased the cost share amount under the Organic Certification Cost Share Program (OCCSP), which helps organic producers cover organic certification costs, to the maximum amount allowed by statute. Specifically, FSA will cover up to 75% of costs associated with organic certification, up to $750 for crops, wild crops, livestock, processing/handling and state organic program fees (California only). OCCSP will cover costs incurred from Oct. 1, 2022, through Sept. 30, 2023. FSA begins accepting applications for OCCSP Monday, May 15. Applications are due Oct. 31, 2023. To apply, producers and handlers should contact the FSA at their local USDA Service Center. As part of completing the OCCSP application, producers and handlers will need to provide documentation of their organic certification and eligible expenses. Organic producers and handlers may also apply for OCCSP through participating state departments of agriculture. FSA is also accepting applications from state departments of agriculture to administer OCCSP. FSA will post a synopsis of the funding opportunity on grants.gov and will send more information to all eligible state departments of agriculture. Additional details can be found on the OCCSP webpage. Other USDA Organic Assistance These two programs build on several others offered under USDA’s Organic Transition Initiative, which range from conservation assistance to improved crop insurance options. For example, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service recently announced $75 million in assistance for conservation practices required for organic certification. AMS’ Transition to Organic Partnership Program (TOPP) builds mentorship relationships between transitioning and existing organic farmers to provide technical assistance and wrap-around support in six U.S. regions. Additionally, as announced earlier in 2023, the Organic Dairy Marketing Assistance Program (ODMAP) will provide marketing assistance to organic dairy producers facing a unique set of challenges, such as significant increases in marketing costs, compounded by increases in feed and transportation costs and the unavailability of organic grain and forage commodities. FSA will announce program and application details soon. More information about these initiatives and more can be found at farmers.gov/organic-transition-initiative . USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov or follow on Twitter @USDA_AMS.





W ith summer quickly approaching and spring weather turning sunny and warm, parents are looking for fun and educational places to take their kids, and people are looking for inventive ways to spruce up their yards. The Little Country Greenhouse in New Boston, Texas, answers both inquiries perfectly. This quaint, peaceful shop can provide educational opportunities for the whole family while supplying an array of plants, decorations, and other goodies for the hopeful, amateur, or professional gardener. The Little Country Greenhouse not only sells plants but also offers a gift shop, a florist, a produce market with fruits and vegetables from local farmers, and an ice cream shop. The most unique thing about this nursery is its butterfly house. If you want to learn about butterflies and see some of the most beautiful butterflies native to Texas, then you want to visit New Boston and this delightful venue. When Patria and Bruce Pardue, owners of The Little Country Greenhouse, went on their honeymoon six years ago, they started thinking about improving their business. They found a butterfly house near their southern Texas beach destination and decided to visit. That excursion left them wanting more, so they stopped at the Texas Discovery Gardens in Dallas. The Pardues found locations that while the gardens were pretty and there were butterflies at both, neither provided much education about butterflies or why they thrived in these locations. “I was a little disappointed,” Bruce recalled. “I wanted to learn more about butterflies; there were beautiful signs and plants, but we couldn’t find the butterflies that matched those signs while we were looking at them.” Sadly, there was no one to give them more information. “I was told to ‘just read the signs,’” he added. These two visits sparked Bruce’s interest, so he started doing research of his own. He found he could create an ecosystem for butterflies native to Texas. “A lot of the perennials we grow are butterfly friendly. There is nothing exotic in the butterfly house,” he said. Considering the research he found, Bruce created an original design that would be conducive to the survival of butterflies. He had several things to consider in this design. He wanted to ensure the butterflies could thrive during their three weeks in flight. He also had to follow regulatory guidelines for introducing the butterflies into a new environment. “The two main enemies of butterflies, besides a predator eating them, are wind and rain,” Bruce explained. To protect the butterflies, he created a structure that would protect the butterflies from the wind and rain and that would follow regulations. He did his homework and studied state and federal regulations because he raises a species that could be considered invasive if too many are introduced to the area. All but one of the species Bruce raises are native to Texas. He has Swallowtails, Buckeyes, Question Marks, Gulf Fritillaries, and others. The butterfly house also hosts Monarch butterflies. The Monarch, although it is the Texas state butterfly, is migratory and not a Texas native species. Monarchs travel from Canada to Mexico during their life cycles.

Bruce Pardue, owner of Little Country Greenhouse in New Boston, Texas.




Each butterfly species comes to Bruce in its chrysalis stage, and he creates an ecosystem for some to go through the entire life cycle in the butterfly house. Because each butterfly requires host- specific plants to lay eggs on and feed from, the Pardues provide these plants for each specific butterfly species. “The black swallowtail only lays its eggs on dill, fennel, or flat-leaf parsley,” said Bruce. “Monarchs are only going to lay their eggs on milkweed.” Not only are butterflies host-specific when laying eggs, but they also only eat the nectar from certain flowers when they come out of the chrysalis stage. Because their in-flight lives are short, butterflies emerge looking for a host plant and a mate. They have about 48 hours of nutrients stored when they hatch, but they know they must reproduce quickly. Butterflies find their mates around the plants where they can lay their eggs. “The butterfly only lays between 50—100 eggs,” explains Bruce. Butterflies are insects, so the air regulates their body temperatures. Most butterflies seek a place to create a chrysalis when temperatures drop. Those Texas native butterflies in The Little Country Greenhouse butterfly habitat do this in early September. The only difference to this is the Monarch butterfly. “The Monarch goes through four generations in one year. The first three generations each live for three weeks. The fourth-generation butterfly is bigger, and they are the only ones we release,” Bruce said. “Their instinct is to head south.” The Pardues started The Little Country Greenhouse butterfly house to add to their business, but more importantly, they wanted to educate others about butterflies and how people can host these beautiful insects in their backyards. They have created a fun environment where people can interact with butterflies. The 300 butterflies they plan to have in the butterfly house by Memorial Day will allow the public to enjoy these creatures up close. “Ours is about teaching and what you can do in your own backyard,” said Bruce. The butterfly tours are held daily from May through September at 10 am, 11 am, and 1 pm-3 pm and should be scheduled in advance. The tour guides, which include

A Few of the Species Living in the Little Country Greenhouse Butterfly Cottage


Gulf Fritillaries


Question Marks





Inside the Butterfly Cottage at the Little Country Greenhouse in New Boston, Texas.

Bruce and two of his assistants, give groups of ten a ten-minute orientation of the dos and don’ts while in the butterfly house. They also show pictures and explain which butterflies the tour participants will see. The Pardue’s butterfly house provides one of only two free tours to see and learn about butterflies across the United States. The other free butterfly house is in Minnesota. Bruce and Patria want to provide people with an educational and inspiring experience. “When we actually go in with you, we are pointing [butterflies] out, and we will take you and show you caterpillars and eggs, whatever is going on in there at the time of your tour,” said Bruce. The Little Country Greenhouse does tours for school groups in the Texarkana area, after-school programs, garden clubs, and master gardeners. They expect over 4,000 visitors to the butterfly house during this year’s season. Bruce wants everyone who goes through the tour to learn something new and have an interactive experience. “I want them to experience what I didn’t get to,” he said. “I want to be able to put a butterfly on their finger. I want them to see [butterflies] up close and personal.” While the butterfly house is a big attraction at The Little Country Greenhouse and does require a scheduled appointment, this oasis offers many other opportunities for the individual or family to enjoy. This year-round greenhouse also offers parakeets, exotic chickens, and ducks for visiting patrons to enjoy. Visitors can see nine baby parakeets and nests where 11 parakeet eggs are waiting to hatch. They can also visit with Frizzy, the chicken. She is a new breed, a frizzle chicken, with feathers like fur. Customers can come to enjoy these free experiences, shop for farm-fresh

produce, eat some Blue Bell ice cream, and learn how to start their own butterfly gardens. “We want folks to learn. That’s what it is all about—teaching and learning,” said Bruce. “The more successful our customers become, the happier they become.”

The Little Country Greenhouse is located at 1442 Daniels Chapel Road in New Boston, Texas. The greenhouse is open Monday-Saturday from 8 am-6 pm and on Sundays from 9 am-4 pm. Appointments for the butterfly house tours and other information can be obtained by calling (903) 628-2991.








“ I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. ”

This has always been my favorite Maya Angelou quote, and it is the reason I create experiences for most meals I cook. You might be thinking, “I do not have the time to cook fabulous dishes with amazing experiences.” I would tell you that you do. As an entrepreneur, mom, and wife, I have learned to create delicious meals in no time. Texarkana has wonderful resources, so I created this simple but elegant picnic date for my husband after I visited the Texarkana Farmers Market one day prior. The Texarkana Farmers Market had fresh, unique items that allowed me to spoil the hubby with a farm to fork experience. SETTING THE SCENE A simple transformation of a backyard is easy to do. I laid out an old rug, but you could use a blanket. I started with a four- foot folding table but did not extend the legs. I covered the table with a simple tablecloth and runner that I purchased at Walmart. As my friend would say, “You must always stay ready,” so I used chargers, plates, and napkins I purchased from one of Hobby Lobby’s 80 percent off sales. I wanted to create a true picnic experience, so we sat on pillows that I borrowed from my guest bedroom. I purchased a beautiful bouquet of flowers from the market as my centerpiece, and I added candles and some greenery to create a beautiful, simple tablescape. THE MENU With summer weather upon us, I decided to break out the grill. While the grill heated up, I served blackberry lemon drop martinis, rosemary white cheddar popcorn, and stuffed strawberries as appetizers. You can find these recipes and how to purchase the popcorn at bougiegrubs.com . The appetizers gave me time to cook burgers and enjoy my husband’s company at the same time. An outdoor grilling picnic deserves juicy hamburgers and hot dogs. I purchased ground beef from my friends at Dutch Springs Farm. The meat was the perfect base for my garlic herb hamburger patties. I decided to try my hand at making refrigerated pickles with cucumbers from the farmers market; it was super easy, and it only took 15 minutes to prepare. I built the burger using garlic aioli, lettuce, goat cheese, fried egg, and homemade pickles—all things available at the farmers market.

Garlic Herb Hamburgers 2 pounds of hamburger meat ¼ cup of chopped fresh herbs (thyme, rosemary, and basil) 2 tbsp of garlic powder Dash of black pepper and salt 1. Mix all ingredients together. 2. Divide the meat mixture into 6 equal patties. 3. Grill, pan fry, or air fry patties. 4. Toast your hamburger bun and spread it with garlic aioli. 5. Add lettuce, pickles, and goat cheese. 6. Enjoy! You can purchase Dutch Springs items by visiting their website dutchspringsfarm.com or going to the Texarkana Farmer’s Market. You can find my pickle recipe on the bougie grub website, as well.




To accompany the burger, I chose to make a cajun-inspired hot dog. I purchased andouille sausages from Capers and Conns Farm. My husband was raised in Louisiana, and he is picky about his Louisiana cuisine. He thought I purchased this sausage from the market in Louisiana on our last visit. That’s a thumbs up in my book. I topped the hotdogs with a cajun cole slaw.

I purchased fresh sugar snap peas at the market, but I wanted to make them special somehow, so I made a salad. You should eat at least one serving of raw fruits and vegetables a day, so I figured this was a good way to eat our veggies (and it tastes great, too!)

Sugar Snap Pea Salad fresh sugar snap peas

cucumbers red onions garlic vinaigrette

Cajun Cole Slaw 4 cups cole slaw mix (red cabbage, green cabbage and carrots) ½ bottle of sweet vidalia onion dressing

1. Cut peas in half to create a long slim look. Cut the cucumbers in a similar fashion and add both to a bowl. 2. Top with thin slices of red onions. 3. Drizzle with garlic vinaigrette. 4. Enjoy!

1 tbsp of cayenne Pepper 1 tbsp of creole seasoning

1. Place cole slaw mix in a bowl. 2. Mix the remaining ingredients in a bowl. 3. Pour sauce in a bowl with cole slaw mix and toss. Make sure all pieces are covered with sauce. 4. Enjoy!




There is no meal worth having without dessert. My friends at Dutch Springs Farm had a delightful angel food cake. I decided to add a little bougie touch to it by adding a cream cheese sauce and fresh blackberries. Blackberry Cloud Cake 4 slices of angel food cake 1 cup of whipped cream cheese 1 cup of Cool Whip 1 cup of fresh blackberries ¼ cup of sugar

1. Mix cream cheese and cool whip together well. 2. Add sugar to blackberries and toss. 3. Spread cake slices with cream cheese mixture and top with blackberries. 4. Enjoy!

The key to creating a memorable food experience is to add at least one thing to a simple dish. People will think that you cooked all day. I hope your summer is filled with picnic day dates, the Texarkana Farmers Market, and plenty of Bougie Grubs!







Overcoming fear is a topic I resonate with since it feels like I have spent most of my life overcoming fears. I don’t want to look back at the end of my life, feeling like I was too chicken to attempt everything I wanted to accomplish and not have something to show for all the years. I want that obtainable

inner peace and joy from knowing I did everything I could to stare fear in its face and bravely cross to the unknown. People tell me I look highly confident and don’t seem to care what others think of me. Well, “yolks” on you if you think I walk into a room and have it all figured out.

This may be the beginning of a joke with a million different punchlines, but it really got me thinking about opportunities. We all face pivotal points in our lives, running around like chickens with our heads cut off, trying to cross to the other side without giant mistakes. What if the answer to “Why did the chicken cross the road?” was to graduate from college? What if the chicken crossed the road to start over in a new city or build a new business? Sometimes crossing the road means the chicken is scared to death, but what if we were determined to cross it anyway?


June 7 Amber Violet La Fogata

June 23 Lee Mathis & the Brutally Handsome 67 Landing June 24 The Ultimate Elvis Perot Theatre 8 pm

June 24 Nick McCarty Hopkins Icehouse 7 pm

7-10 pm June 20 Tuesday Night Karaoke Whiskey River 8 pm

June 29 Kin Faux Whiskey River 8 pm




I was scared to move out of my mom’s house two years ago, but with tough love and brutal honesty from my friend, Ali Deal, I conquered that fear and enjoyed every second. From there, I felt more apt and able to conquer other things I had always told myself I could never do. Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Without the first step, you can’t take another. I used to walk on eggshells, treading lightly to ensure hard- boiled personalities weren’t bothered by my overly sunny-side-up disposition. I always felt too loud, too happy, too MUCH. I know now that life is about hatching from the egg we call our comfort zone and letting the world open up around us. As terrifying as crossing new roads may first appear, we will never regret looking back and knowing we crossed it. Afraid? Yes! But determined to leave the nest in search of something much better? Absolutely!

It’s that “overnight success” narrative that often labels the highly successful. In truth, hours and even lifetimes have been devoted to climbing the seemingly never-ending ladder, landing them where they are today. There were times in my life when walking in front of a big crowd of people made me so anxiety-ridden; I would do borderline anything not to have to do it. Are they looking at my side profile and noticing how big my nose is? Are my man boobs noticeable through my shirt? Do I walk too effeminately? A chicken coop wasn’t built in a day, (or whatever the saying is), and the same can be said for my confidence. Many people are unaware that the secret to building confidence is doing the things that scare us over and over and over again. If we do something that scares us every day, fear will slowly die, and we will eventually feel ready to rule the world.


Clark Giles The Morning Show on Apple TV+

LOCAL EVENTS June 9 Texarkana College— Women in the Workforce 10 am-12 pm June 10 David Michael Wyatt Perot Theatre, 6 pm June 9-11 Running WJ Barrel Race Four States Fair Grounds June 9 Downtown Live Downtown Texarkana 5-9 pm June 16 Daddy Daughter

June 1-10 TRAHC’S 30th Annual Student Juried Exhibition June 2-4 Arkansas State High School Rodeo Four States Fair Grounds Every Saturday in June Texarkana Farmers Market Downtown Texarkana 7 am-12 pm June 3 Four States Homeschool

June 19 Juneteenth June 19-23 Oceans of Fun Art Camp The Gallery 1-3 pm June 20 Arkansas Junior Amateur Championship Texarkana Country Club June 24-July 1 Brahman Show Four States Fairgrounds

Claire Moulton Absolutely Not with Heather McMahan

Expo and Conference Church on the Rock 9 am-3 pm June 5-8 Texarkana College Kids’ College June 5-8

Dinner supporting Mission Texarkana Crossties 6-8 pm June 16-18

For more events visit

Texas A&M-Texarkana Boys and Girls Basketball Camp

Kelsey Schmitt The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell by Robert Dugoni

Integrity Team Roping Four States Fairgrounds




Joe Hensley


Kahlayah Rehkopf

Linda Lily

Martha Prieskorn

T hroughout history, cowboys have tended cattle beginning at sunrise and ended the day covered in dust from head to toe. The horses, though exhausted from the long day, would have gladly continued to ride the range. After a dinner around the campfire, cowboys and ranch hands longed for a hobby more entertaining than the monotony of the workday. Putting their horsemanship to good use, these fun-loving cowboys invented their own kind of entertainment. They took the normal daily maneuvers of their horses and turned them into healthy competition. After all, the majority of the horses’ waking hours were spent traveling the vast countryside, cutting and herding. All that time together firmly established a close bond between horse and rider. With just a simple movement in the saddle or a gentle pull of the reins, cowboys could get their horses to spin, move from side to side, run in a smooth motion, and stop on a dime. They took their

unique skills and began competing based on the abilities of each horse and rider. This became quite the evening revelry. This competitive tradition of the Old West has become known as reining. Keeping close to its roots, reining is a sport where riders continue to guide their horses through intricate patterns of spins, circles, and sliding stops. The popularity of this western performance horse industry is at an all-time high due in part to the television series, Yellowstone , whose writer, Taylor Sheridan, is himself a reiner and horse owner. When competing in the arena, the elite skills of riders and the athleticism of horses are put to the test. To see the rider atop the horse, it often appears to the spectator that the rider is just sitting in the saddle and the work is left to the horse. However, the rider, making the slightest unseen movements with his legs or hands, secretly but confidently controls the horse. After the completion of the pattern, the rider is given a score from the








Linda Lilly and Whiz

Joe Hensley and Casper

judges on how well the rider executed all the maneuvers. The goal is to make it look effortless even though that is far from reality. Founded in 2007, the Four States Reining Horse Association (FSRHA) serves the Ark-La-Tex region. Today, the Texarkana chapter has six active riders: Cindy Simmons, Kahlayah Rehkopf, Linda Lilly, Martha Prieskorn, Jennifer Cassel, and Joe Hensley. Each reiner is quick to introduce their horses as team members as well. The team members of the equine species prefer to go by their barn names, Sophie, Reba, Whiz, Earl, Cici, Jay, Mac, and Casper. The horses are registered Quarter Horses and have impeccable pedigrees. They are magnificent animals with shiny coats, strapping muscle tone, and personalities to match their highly skilled riders. The human team members smile and get a little emotional when they speak about the man responsible for bringing them all together. In 2009, Richard Hampton, known to the Texarkana group as quite the horse whisperer, took over running and organizing shows for FSRHA and always had significant help from his reining friend, Joe Hensley. Hensley, along with Linda Lily, are at the helm of the two sponsored shows the Four States Reining Association sponsors. Most of the riders have been riding horses their entire lives, but some were unaware of the sport of reining until Richard introduced them. Knowing who could ride a horse, who was teachable, and who had a competitive spirit, Richard expertly formed his reining team. “I like to say that Richard trained horses and people,” one rider said with a grin. He trained the horses and the riders in the local reining group, resulting in the group traveling to competitions where they won trophies, plaques, and money. He encouraged

Cindy Simmons and Sophie






Kahlayah Rehkopf and Reba

Jennifer Cassel and Jay

the team, shared tricks of the trade, taught life lessons, and had a special relationship with all the reining horses. In return, the horses reciprocated the affection of their leader. Reiner Jennifer Cassel smiled as she shared her memory of realizing Richard was indeed a horse whisperer. She explained, at one time, her relationship with her horse, Jay, was strained, to say the least. Jay was born a stubborn and cantankerous beast, and Jennifer admits she didn’t have the patience the horse required. After a reining competition went poorly, Jennifer said her patience had worn thin. “I looked at the horse and yelled, ‘What? What do you want?’” Richard happened to be standing a few yards away. “If I’m lying, I’m dying,” Jennifer said. “Immediately after I screamed at him asking what he wanted from me, Jay immediately walked right over to Richard, stood beside him, looking back at me as if to say that Richard was what he wanted and needed.” Richard smiled and said, “May I help you?” Jennifer relented and gave Jay’s training (and hers) over to Richard; the rest is history. Jay and Jennifer have become two peas in a pod thanks to the expert training of Richard and his genuine love for horses. In fact, all the team’s reining horses excelled under Richard’s watch. The reining team recently traveled to Tulsa, Oklahoma, for the National Reiner’s Breeder’s Classic, which is the second largest reining show in the world, paying out over $25 million in the past 25 years. There were 1,600 horses and riders who entered the competition. According to the riders, the horses become keenly aware when it is their time to shine. They get a sudden burst of adrenaline and have a heightened awareness of every move their

Martha Prieskorn and Earl






Jennifer Cassell

Cindy Simmons

Richard Hampton’s last show ride. He is riding Jennifer Cassel’s horse, Jay (registered name UWRF Tag You’re It) at a horse show in Tulsa last summer. This is the horse that, “Drug her to meet Richard.”

rider makes. The riders shift their weight ever so slightly in the saddle, and the horse knows to change leads to go another direction. The rider attempts to move the reins as little as possible to guide while still being in control, which is a difficult balance to strike. The horses are aware of the patterns they have been trained to run in the arena, but they rely on their riders to be in ultimate control. In fact, the reining rule book states, “To rein a horse is not only to guide him but also to control his every movement. The best reined horse should be willingly guided.” To succeed in reining, many hours of training are required as well as an ongoing bond between horse and rider. The Texarkana team practices every Sunday afternoon at an arena built by Linda and Mike Lilly. Mike is tirelessly working to get the consistency of the dirt just right and is always there to drag the arena to smooth it out for the group. Everybody has a job on this reining team and is proud of it. It takes effort from trainers, riders, spouses, and horses to make what was once a hobby become a show this group loves to take on the road. The Four States Reining Association members lost their beloved trainer in October 2022. Richard is a tremendous loss to the group

as they are trying to move forward without his natural skill and expertise. They have found a new trainer in Ty Pole, who travels from his home in Gainesville, Texas, to work with the group every couple of months. They are so thankful for Pole’s expert coaching abilities and the time he can spare to work with them. But they all echo that Richard is never far from their minds. Richard taught them so much about the details of the sport, but he also left them with a genuine love for one another. As for the horses, Robert Redford said it best in the movie The Horse Whisperer when he was asked if he helped people with horse problems. The movie legend humbly responded, “I help horses with people problems.” That will be the legacy of Richard Hampton, and his team will forever be indebted to him for it. And so, the Texarkana chapter of the Four States Reining Horse Association continues to rein for the sheer love of the sport and competition but also for the memory of the man that seemed to know that they all needed each other… horses included.

For more information visit Four States Reining Horse Association on Facebook, or call Joe Hensley at 903-924-0428.







(right) Cobi Hamilton sits on his bull, Hamilton Red, who was purchased at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo in 2016. photo by Matt Cornelius







C obi Hamilton’s farm in Nash, Texas, is like driving up on a tiny slice of East Texas heaven. Observing the beauty of the wildflowers and the magnificence of the cattle is a mesmerizing experience. It is easy to see why, in a busy and complicated world, this is Hamilton’s oasis. Many had a different path in mind for the young athlete, but after a lifetime of devoting his focus to playing football at Texas High School, the University of Arkansas, and the NFL (first drafted to the Cincinnati Bengals in 2013), Hamilton’s enthusiasm for cattle never waned; he could not resist returning home to his roots in 2018. “Some kids’ ultimate dream is to play in the NFL, and all they care about is football, football, football,” he said. “Everybody wants me to be a football player, but this (cattle) is my passion. I’ve been doing this since I was a little kid. I could have continued playing football, but I was ready for my life to start.”

Hamilton spends most days traveling to cattle sales throughout East Texas and Southern Arkansas to acquire new herds to be sold as replacement cattle. Upon their arrival at the farm, the cows are sorted and grouped to his liking and eventually transported to their new homes. “I’ve always been around cattle sales, so I didn’t just jump into it,” reflected Hamilton. Even amid the intense rigor of the NFL, he was making cattle sales from afar. A self-proclaimed Daddy’s boy, Hamilton, was around his father’s Beefmaster cattle business from an early age, and by ten years old, he was tying up calves in the same barn where his business is located today. “I am easily stereotyped,” he said, “because I’m dark-skinned and have long hair. When I walk into a sale barn, the other buyers think, ‘Who is this guy?’” However, it doesn’t take long for Hamilton to establish himself. The way he carries himself and his obvious expertise of the industry demands respect. “They want to ask questions and






A young Cobi shows an A.I. (artificial inseminiation) bred Beefmaster heifer in Shreveport, Louisiana. Cobi received 4th place at the cattle show.

know more about me. They want to know where my farm is and how I got into the cattle business.” Tenacity runs deep into Hamilton’s family tree. Raised with seven siblings in Foreman, Arkansas, Gene Hamilton, Cobi’s father, was the lone cowboy in a family full of educators and politicians. “My aunts and uncles each had the resilience and a backbone to want better for themselves,” Hamilton said. His mother, Deborah Hamilton, was among the first African-American women to play sports at the University of Arkansas. His sister, Kayla Hamilton, is a renowned dancer and choreographer in New York City. Resilience has been passed down as a legacy of determination to future generations of the Hamilton family. Hamilton has a thirst for learning and does not take his tenure in the cow business for granted. He believes there is always a question

to be asked and a new strategy to employ, to do what is best for his business. “Anything that is not growing is dead,” Hamilton quoted. He often leans on his mentors in the cattle business for guidance. In elementary school, Hamilton’s mom dropped him at the sale barn on Friday nights, and he would beg her not to pick him up until the last man left. Anthony Martin, his mentor in the back of the sale barn, always kept an eye on him. “Anthony cared for me as a kid and ensured I didn’t get hurt or put in a bad spot.” Roger McDaniel of Valiant, Oklahoma, is another mentor Hamilton still looks to for guidance in the business. “He taught me when to sell cattle and when to hold on to them,” Hamilton reflected. “I have learned different techniques for doctoring cattle, and he encourages me to experiment to see what works best for my cattle. He is someone I will feel proud and privileged to know for the rest of my life.”






The Circle O Farms trailer named after Cobi’s grandfather, “Oscar”Hamilton.

Cobi Hamilton in A.I. school with Dr. Charles Looney, a cattle expert and avid Arkansas Razorback fan.

Cobi’s son, Riley Hamilton, on the farm with his friend, Parker Smith.

Cobi’s parents, Gene & Deborah Hamilton.

business started. Named for his grandfather, Oscar Hamilton, Circle O Farms holds a special place in the family. Hamilton mainly buys and sells Brahman cattle. The Brahman nature is to stay close together and never stray far from their group. “They are sturdy cows that can withstand the Texas heat and know how to survive.” This breed appeals to Hamilton as hard work, a fortified legacy, and the cattle business have been tightly woven into the tapestry of his heritage. To some people, especially his ten-year-old son, Riley, Hamilton will always be the NFL star from Nash, Texas. But Hamilton’s view of himself is quite

One of the most important business philosophies he adopted from both men is, “The world is smaller if we all work together. Ultimately, we will all make more money because it always comes back around.” Texarkana is a hub for buying and selling cows in the surrounding states. Most of Hamilton’s business is accomplished online, and while many get sucked down the social media rabbit hole, he is online simply to sell cows. His only criteria for being accepted as his Facebook friend—you must own a cow! “My goal is to get more established, so wherever I go, I can sell cows,” Hamilton said. He hopes to grow his business to an echelon where people come to him

cover photo by Matt Cornelius

no matter where he is located. He works hard to meet the needs of his customers and serve them in a way that is convenient for them and beneficial to his business. Along with a couple of farms in Texarkana, Hamilton owns the land behind his grandmother’s house where his dad’s Beefmaster

different. “This is my happy place, out here in the mud. I come here every morning before heading out to cattle sales to get peace of mind and ensure everything is how it should be. Who wouldn’t like this? The birds singing. Pretty cows. Life is short. Who cares what people make you out to be?”



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