On Wednesday afternoon, Teri Stafford, Malcolm McNair and I left for Jonesboro to visit with the Craighead and Greene County Bar Associations to update them on law school events and news. We got to the Jonesboro Holiday Inn Express about 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday and had a little time to freshen up before heading up to Paragould. The meeting was held at the Candlelight Steakhouse. We were in a small, private room in the back of the steakhouse, and arrived ahead of time to set things up before our guests arrived. A number of our alums came out to see us, along with Senator Robert Thompson, Donis Hamilton, Jay Scurlock, King Benson and Bob Young. A special thanks goes out to H.T. Moore, who wasn’t feeling well but stopped by to say hello anyway, and to our hostess, Lorie Whitby.

During the cocktail hour, Donis Hamilton recommended that I try a local delicacy, so out came a platter of rooster fries. They look a little like fried okra, but without the green. When I asked everybody what it was, they would say it was a local delicacy and nothing more. Donis said, “You must absolutely try it, Dean Nance,” and as you foodies know, I’m pretty game for anything. He scooped up several of them on a plate with some marinara sauce (sauce makes anything better) and, as best as I can describe it, they had the consistency of a heavily-breaded scallop with a very light chicken liver flavor. Not the best; not the worst, just sort of okay. Once I had eaten my rooster fries they told me what they were. It turns out—and there’s just no delicate way to say this—that rooster fries are actually rooster testicles. In fact, you can get an entire rooster fry platter at the Candlelight Steakhouse, which needless to say I did not.

Dinner was not as eventful as the appetizers, but it was very, very good. There was a salad with an unusual–but delicious!—wine and cheese dressing, a Cajun crusted grouper which was rubbed with Cajun seasoning, stuffed with seafood, covered with Cajun sauce and served with wild rice and seasonal veggies. As everyone ate dessert, we started the presentation and update.

This was a lively, fun group of alums, and we’re glad we could visit with them. They had lots of questions and gave us a good deal of feedback. By the way, many thanks to Robert Thompson, our alum and state Senator for joining us. I spoke with him about the possibility of restructuring the IOLTA trust accounts so that more interest would be generated for the legal services and other activities they fund.

After the dinner and presentation, we went with Donis Hamilton (our local guide) to Roy’s, which is an institution in Paragould. It’s a bar located in an old, remodeled chicken coop. When we walked in, it felt just like a scene out of an old Western movie—you know, where someone walks into the bar, the piano player stops and the place goes silent? When we stepped into Roy’s it was just like that. It was certainly a sort of “you’re not from around here, are you?” moment, but it turned out to be a blast. All the beer was bottled and apparently Roy’s has really good cheeseburgers, but we had already eaten.

I took a little tour with Donis of Roy’s and noted the sketches. There used to be a man who hung out there and made wonderful sketches of the local patrons. We tried to find Donis’ picture and couldn’t, but it gave me a chance to look at the sketches and all the signatures on the walls. Thanks very much to Donis for being such a wonderful tour guide of Greene County. Not only did he show us around, but he spent a great deal of time giving me the history of the lawyers in Greene and Craighead counties, and Arkansas politics. It was very, very helpful to me and also quite interesting. I appreciate Donis making the time to hang out with us.

After leaving Donis, we went back to our hotel in Jonesboro. The next morning Teri and I visited a couple of alums in different law firms. First on our schedule was Womack, Landis, Phelps, McNeill & McDaniel where we visited with Jared Woodard, whose brother Chris just got admitted to our law school, Raney English Coleman and J. Nicholas Livers. After a nice visit, we headed over to Mixon, Parker, and Hurst where we were able to chat with Harry Hurst and Don Parker. Then it was off for our lunch meeting.

The Craighead County Bar Meeting lunch was hosted by Mike Mullaly at the Jonesboro Country Club. Those attending included Jared Woodward, Chad Olham, Brandon Harrison, Jason Milne, Judge Lee Fergus, Val Price, Lucinda McDaniel, Troy Henry, Megan Henry, Don Parker and Sloan Rainwater. A special hello to Bobby McDaniel, whose room we will dedicate next week. He was also in attendance and we enjoyed our visit with him. Lunch was pleasant and we were happy to give an update on the law school. After lunch we went to visit the Barrett & Deacon Law Firm and Barry Deacon was a wonderful host. There we visited with Barry Deacon, Brandy Brown, Brandon Harrison, Jason Milne and Shane Baker.

We headed back to Fayetteville right after that last stop, though we’re already excited about visiting Jonesboro and Paragould again. As we were driving back, it became clear how the rivers had exceeded their banks. We are keeping everyone there in our prayers, as we are expecting another few days of rain.