You might think of Fairfield Bay as just a retirement village. You’d be way wrong.
While the city of just under 2,300 people is home to a number of retirees, these folks are far from retired – at least in the traditional sense. You don’t find too many retirees building community recycle centers and filling shifts to keep such a facility open on a full-time basis.
A “hands-on” recycling center, the HIPPE Center is a place for education as well as a conservation undertaking.
“The most popular place for residents to bring their grandkids and other children is our recycling center,” says Mayor Paul Wellenberger, who is rightfully proud of the work being done in his community.
Began in 1985 by Harold and Sigrid Hippe, the Center now has nearly 50 volunteers who work more than 2,000 hours annually. They take in an average of 10 tractor-trailer loads of recycling each year. Unlike many good-sized cities, glass is recycled in Fairfield Bay via a partnership with Little Rock Air Force Base.
Most people are aware of the extraordinary amount of activity that is available for anyone in the Bay, as it’s called by locals. There’s golf, tennis, swimming, disc golf, hiking the new and growing trail system, water sports at the marina, bowling, a history museum hosted in a log cabin, and all sorts of other options. These are available for both the resident, guest and visitor. Speaking of guests, more than 14,000 visitors were recorded at the Fairfield Bay Conference Center last year. Turns out, Fairfield Bay is quite the spot for conferences and events.
“We think we could have come close to doubling that if we had a hotel in the Bay” the mayor says. “We are working on that.”
So many people visit the Bay that there’s a weekly welcome breakfast for visitors every Monday. Visitors hear about the numerous activities available and are greeted by the mayor. When’s the last time the mayor of the city you visited greeted you? All part of the charm of the Bay.
One of the many advantages of participation in the Uncommon Communities initiative are the relationships built at the trainings and in between sessions at working meetings. The nature of these gatherings give citizens from the cities of Clinton and Fairfield Bay a reason to be in the same room, focused on similar projects.
“We’re working together closer than ever,” Jackie Sikes of the Dirty Farmers’ Market Café in Clinton told me.
When we work together, great things can happen and great things are what make your community uncommon.