Grace in the Guise of a Greyhound

Kimberly J. Williams
deltatraveler@gmail.com

Arkansas never ceases to amaze me. I’ve lived here my entire life and there are still things I’ve never experienced before. Some happen to be just outside my back door.

I recently visited Southland Park in West Memphis. I visited once before about a week before their grand reopening in November, but I didn’t get a chance to see the greyhounds race.

                             

Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect. I’m an animal lover, so I knew I would enjoy seeing the beautiful dogs run. But Southland Park is so much more.
 

This visit, I had the entire experience of Southland Park. We started at their Juke Joint, which hosts live music Thursdays through Saturdays. Unfortunately, I visited on a Monday night so I missed the music. However, that was the ONLY unfortunate part of my visit.
               

Southland recently completed a $40 million renovation. It shows. They added electronic gaming machines, the Juke Joint, the World Market Buffet and underwent an exterior makeover. What truly amazed me were the people who work at Southland Park. They take hospitality to new heights. You can tell they love working there and they aim to please their visitors. Southland Park is also family-friendly, offering a family seating area.

Before heading off to see the graceful greyhounds race, we had dinner at Southland’s new dining facility, World Market Buffet. I know some people are not fans of buffets, but you should definitely try this buffet. You will not be disappointed – the food is wonderful. The variety of entrees, vegetables, salads and desserts was surprising. Everything is fresh, including the vegetables. That night, turnip greens (a true Southern favorite!) were on the buffet. I know that’s not uncommon. But what IS uncommon is that the chef told me she picked them that morning herself! Now that’s fresh! No one left the World Market Buffet hungry that night.

Then we headed to the racetrack. As I said, I’d never experienced greyhound racing and I wasn’t sure what to expect. It was unbelievable. You can actually go outside and stand RIGHT BESIDE the track. You are almost within touching distance of the greyhounds as they race by. In fact, you can stand so close that when they run past, you might get hit with a little sand! These animals are so agile. As they run past you, you barely see their feet touching the track. We were fortunate to have Southland’s Director of Racing, John Goodwin, and Kandis Rodgers, GuestPath Administrator, as our guides that evening, so we actually got to meet some of the greyhounds. The animals are so calm and loving. But they are also very focused as race time approaches – much like any athlete. We were standing near the paddock as one group came off the track. I reached down to pet one of the greyhound and I was amazed at the heat coming off his body! They put everything they have into that race.

Southland Park has something to offer everyone – wonderful food, gaming and the graceful greyhounds.

If you go:

Southland Park is located West Memphis off Interstate 40 at exit 279A on Ingram Boulevard. Their hours are 10 a.m. – 2 a.m. Monday through Saturday and from noon until 2 a.m. on Sunday. They offer evening and matinee races. Racing hours vary. Visit their Web site at www.southlandgreyhound.com.

Posted in Travel Arkansas

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