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story.lead_photo.caption The Mid-America Science Museum in Hot Springs will host its 18th annual Taste of the Holidays on Nov. 16. Jim Miller, director of marketing at the museum, shows a platter donated by the gift shop at Oaklawn Racing & Gaming that will be among items up for bids in a silent auction at the event. Irene Perros, volunteer coordinator at the museum who is dressed as Yoda for Halloween, shows a certificate from Viking River Cruises depicting a cruise on the Danube River that will also be featured in the silent auction. - Photo by William Harvey

— The community is invited to welcome the holiday season a little early this year at the 18th annual Taste of the Holidays at the Mid-America Science Museum, 500 Mid-America Blvd. in Hot Springs.

Set for 6-9 p.m. Nov. 16, the event is presented by Oaklawn Racing & Gaming, TLI Print and Tri-Lakes Liquor. The evening will feature refreshments provided by area vendors, live music by local entertainers, science demonstrations and a silent auction “bigger and better than ever before,” said Jim Miller, director of marketing.

Miller said that among the silent-auction items is an eight-day cruise for two on the Danube River from Viking River Cruises, valued at $8,700.

“That’s probably the biggest auction item we have received so far,” said Irene Perros, volunteer coordinator who is also in charge of vendors for the upcoming event.

Other silent-auction items include a week’s stay at Camp Winnamocka in Arkadelphia, a winemaking experience from Barrels Unlimited in Hot Springs, a helicopter tour of Hot Springs from LifeNet Inc. of Hot Springs, four passes to Walt Disney World, tickets for a St. Louis Cardinals baseball game and a Eureka Springs experience.

“We also have several new vendors this year,” Perros said. “New vendors include Wingstop, Longhorn Steak House, Taste of India and Red Light Roastery Coffee House.”

Other vendors include Ambrosia Bakery Co., Arkansas Beverage Sales, Belle Arti Italian Ristorante/Porterhouse Steak and Seafood, Bleu Monkey Grill, Bliss Cupcakes, Don Juan Mexican Bar and Grill, Higdon Square Café, JV Farms, Kilwins, La Hacienda, Mountain Valley Water, Next Level Kitchen, Sam’s Club, Silks Bar and Grill, Stubby’s Bar-B-Que, Superior Bathhouse Brewery and Tri-Lakes Liquor.

Miller said Lori Arnold, a local artist and exhibit designer, is creating centerpieces for the tables. Those centerpieces will be available for purchase.

Miller said the event will be preceded by a VIP reception at 5 p.m. for honorees and sponsors only.

Honorees will include Corey Alderdice, director of the Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences and the Arts in Hot Springs, and his family, Stephanie and Elliott, who will receive the Family Science Leadership Award, and U.S. Congressman Bruce Westerman, R-Ark., who will receive the Community Leadership Award for recognizing the value of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education in Arkansas.

“We will also honor the recipient of our third annual scholarship, Haley Riggs, who is a senior at Fountain Lake High School,” Miller said. “She also volunteers here at the museum.”

Miller said this year’s scholarship, which is given to a local high school senior planning to pursue a four-year college degree in science, is for $1,500.

“The first year it was $1,000,” Miller said. “We are hoping to continue growing it.”

Entertainment at Taste of the Holidays will be provided by Jacob Flores and DJ Courier.

Science demonstrations will include frozen Cheetos and a pendulum experiment. The Garland County Library will provide a green screen for making videos or photographs.

“We will also highlight a new exhibit coming to the museum next year,” Miller said. “The Oaklawn Foundation has awarded the museum $400,000 to create a unique permanent outdoor exhibition, the Oaklawn Foundation DinoTrek.”

Miller said this exhibit will consist of 18 lifelike dinosaur replicas strategically placed at the front walkways of the museum grounds and along the nature trails in the back of the museum.

“We plan to open this new exhibit Memorial Day Weekend 2018,” Miller said.

Miller said there is a lot of “buzz” about this year’s Taste of the Holidays event.

“Since we have divided up responsibilities this year, I am able to do a lot more promotion on social media — Facebook and Twitter,” he said.

“We hope to pack the house this year,” Miller said, smiling. “We normally have 400 to 500 people. We hope to have more this year.

“We hope to sell more tickets this year and make quadruple the money on our silent auction. The community looks forward to this event every year. The vendors look forward to it as well. Proceeds from the event benefit the museum’s educational programs.”

Tickets to Taste of the Holidays are $75 per person in advance or $90 at the door. Advance tickets may be purchased by phone at (501) 767-3461, in person at 500 Mid-America Blvd. or online at

The Mid-America Museum is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and from 1-5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $10 for adults and $8 for children ages 3 to 12.

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