36th Annual AJHA Convention
Little Rock | Oct. 12-14, 2017
Welcome to Little Rock!
Picture this — It’s the middle of October. The semester doesn’t end for another six weeks, and you’re tired of grading papers and having endless conversations about college football already. Well, maybe you’re not tired of talking football, but nevertheless, you’re ready for a break. If you know the feeling then you also know that it’s time for AJHA’s 36th annual destination conference in Little Rock. The city has everything AJHAers want—historical significance, easy access to great food and, of course, great people.
How Little Rock got its name is no mystery. In the early 1700s when it was a small outpost in the wilderness, French explorer Jean-Baptiste Benard de La Harpe called the area “Le Petit Rocher” for its signature landmark, a little rock (relative to the bigger rock a few feet up river). French and Native Americans settled the outpost, and the region became a part of the United States with the Louisiana Purchase. Despite the disadvantage of being land-locked, the city’s location on the Arkansas River provided Little Rock the opportunity to prosper. Today, the city is known for Central High School and the “Little Rock Nine,” President Bill Clinton’s influence on state politics, and the Clinton Presidential Library and Museum.
As you know, the conference hotel is selected based on its location to restaurants as well as arts and entertainment districts. This year, the DoubleTree Hotel, located in downtown Little Rock, more than fits the bill. The hotel is located three blocks from the River Market District, an entertainment area that features a wide variety of international cuisines at reasonable prices. Affordability is also a key factor in selecting the conference site. This year, the room rate is $119 (before taxes). Early morning risers can work out in the exercise room or take a morning run across the Broadway Bridge (one of the city’s pedestrian bridges that’s next to the hotel) or in Riverfront Park.
History is abundant in Little Rock, and you’ll be able to experience it on foot, by streetcar or by bus.
The Conference Bus Tour
Those wanting to explore the city independently have several options.The Walking Tour
Visit the Old State House Museum (next to our hotel) and then take a short walk over to the Historic Arkansas Museum, a restored half block of the original city. No doubt the walk will make you thirsty, so on the way back to the DoubleTree, make sure you stop by the historic Capital Hotel and have a beverage of your choice. Built in 1876, the hotel oozes Southern charm and is worth your time to see.
The Streetcar Named Little Rock Tour
Those who want to explore the city but prefer to ride can take the streetcar and travel around Little Rock and North Little Rock’s Argenta Arts District, where you’ll find quaint restaurants (Cregeen's Irish Pub is highly recommended for its collection of more than 100 types of beer) and small gift shops. Daily and three-day streetcar passes are available.
The Whimsy Tour
If you’re really adventurous and have a car, set your Google map for the ESSE Purse Museum. A museum that’s dedicated to purses is not only whimsical, but it also takes a novel approach to viewing women’s history through the lens of the bags women have carried. Entry fee is $10.
By now I’m sure you noticed that I haven’t included the Clinton Presidential Library and Museum in any of the tour options. That’s because the museum is the site of our Saturday night gala! Having our gala at a presidential library is a first for AJHA, and I’m happy that this event will be a part of our history. When you’re registering for the conference, selecting events, and deciding what you want to do, please keep in mind that the price of the gala includes a ticket to tour the museum before we eat. Since this is an after-hours event, we’ll have the whole museum to ourselves. In addition, there will be a cash bar.
One final note: I’d like to thank our local hosts Donna Stephens and Sonny Rhodes for their help with organizing the Little Rock conference. The Local Host Committee is extremely important to a successful conference. I, along with conference organizers Donna, Sonny, and LoWanda, welcome you to Little Rock!