Summer is here, the weather is great (if you ignore all those pesky storms that have put the center region of our state underwater), and the events that have come to define the unique identity of Huntsville and Madison County are well underway.

The bi-weekly Madison County Farmers Market is in full bloom (on Tuesday and Saturday mornings on Polk Square) and Movies on the Square opened its annual summer series last Saturday (held the first Saturday evening of each summer month, also on Polk Square). This Saturday, there’s three big events: the annual Shelby Rae Dotson Memorial Scholarship Golf Tournament at Oak Ridge Golf Course; the Bluegrass and BBQ festival at Mitchusson Park in Huntsville; and the June Bug Jam at the Headwaters School in the Boston area.

Summer technically isn’t here yet (not until June 22, anyway), but it’s certainly in full swing. The golf tournament is one of many that’s held each summer at Oak Ridge, and there are more events planned at the park this summer, including the annual fireworks show. That’s not to mention the events that have already happened: the Paws and Claws Pet Shelter’s annual Color Me Fun Run, or the Community Resource Fair hosted at Open Arms Food Pantry by the county’s ministerial alliance on Tuesday (see related story on page 1A).

One of the county’s biggest weaknesses is its entertainment options. We don’t have those businesses we can go to to see a movie or go bowling. But our biggest strength is our sense of community, and the efforts that our community leaders go to in order to provide something to do in our rural pocket of northwest Arkansas. Sure, we have to drive to Fayetteville if we want much of a night life, but give credit where it’s due: Mitchusson Park is a beautiful park, and our local groups and officials are taking full advantage of it. I hope some of our local residents do, too.

The season of outdoor events and festivals of course means more work, both on our end covering them and for those organizing those events, but more than that, it means community. I may find myself driving westward Friday toward Fayetteville so that I can see that new Godzilla movie, but I also know where I’ll be on Saturday, and not just because I have to grab some pictures for the paper. Madison County often gets a bad rap because of what it doesn’t have (by myself, often, though my criticisms have been greatly reduced by the recent Taco Bell announcement), but what makes it stand out are the things it does have: people and the drive to increase the quality of life here. We can complain all day about what we don’t have, but I encourage everyone to get out this Saturday (assuming the storms hold off) and experience a little bit of what we do.

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