Save the date: June 29, 2013

Dear family and friends,

I’ve selected the weekend of June 29, 2013 (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) for our official family reunion. The decision was based on the fact that several of us will still be in school or just out on the 22nd, and I don’t want to exclude anyone.

Feel free to come early and/ or stay after that weekend. I know everyone’s travel schedules will vary, so I’m going to free up those two weeks as much as possible to accommodate everyone.

The real planning begins now. Please let me know (again) who’s coming, how many, and approximately when. I’ll let you know about housing when we have a head count. BTW, unfortunately I’m not building the cabin, but we still have the bunkhouse, taj mahal, and the two rented camper trailers. That’s in addition to Barbara’s house and my gracious neighbors.

To the food and budget committee: Please start working on meal planning, and a budget including t-shirts and food costs . I’ll let you know shortly the rental cost of the trailers. I’m installing elec. hookups for them this winter.

June will be here before we know it! Can’t wait to see you all!

Much love,

Reunion updates!


It’s time to set the date and get an idea of who will be coming. The June 15 th weekend posed problems for those still in school. Please help me pick the new date, either the weekend of june 22nd  or June 28th. Keep in mind that the 28th is just prior to the 4th of July. I don’t know if that makes a difference, just pointing it out. Please reply to all with your preference! Also let me know how many are coming and where you want to stay (farm, Barbara’s, hotel).
I’ve arranged to rent three travel trailers from friends, and I am (pun alert) currently installing electric outlets for hookups. Each trailer has ac and a small kitchen. I think the smallest sleeps 8. The cost is low, $100-200 each for 5 days or so.  I’m going to ask our committee to develop a budget for this and other expenses. We’ll get everyone’s lodging sorted out soon, after I get an idea of how many to expect.
The reunion committee members are Kern, Courtney, Magda, Cherie, and Ariel. The committee will have a variety of responsibilities but mostly I need help with a budget for expenses, ideas and coordination for food, and of course activity planning! Thank you for volunteering to be on the committee. If I’ve got it wrong and you don’t want to serve, just let me know.
That’s all I have at the moment. Janet has been working on some menu planning ideas this week, do expect an email from her soon.
Love you all,

The Rumor is True! 2013 Reunion Planning Beginning

The rumor is true! We are planning another Jackson/Dowden/Hoffman family reunion in June of 2013 at our farm in Goshen!

I’ve heard directly from several of you already that you are planning to come, and preparations are underway to make this one the best yet. We in Fayetteville and Goshen are so excited that we’re having another one, and I’ve got a few questions for you so that we can get started. This time I’m determined to take some of the guess work out, and have even bought a little planning book to help me out. No worries, I’ll not plan us to death, but a little lorelization will go a long way toward making everyone comfortable, so we can relax and enjoy each other.

If you haven’t been here yet, we gather at my farm and at Barbara’s house in Fayetteville, which are approximately 13 miles apart (20 minute drive). Favorite side trips have included the historic War Eagle Mill picnics along War Eagle Creek (30 minute drive), boating and picnics at Lake Wedington (30-40 minute drive), and go cart racing at Lokomotion (20 minute drive). A new and highly recommended attraction is the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, located in Bentonville (45-60 minute drive) and takes a minimum of four hours there to see and enjoy the many masterpieces and lovely grounds (free admission). Other things we like to do are trips to the Fayetteville Farmer’s Market on the downtown square,  family music at the farm (bring your instruments!), horseback rides, the Botanical Gardens of the Ozarks, rambles, and eating!

Please take a few minutes and let me know what you think. If you don’t know, just say so. Feel free to ask questions in case I’ve forgot something, and also add your ideas.

  1. Are you coming, and how many will there be in your group?
  2. What dates do you prefer? June, 2013 seems a long time from now but it will be here before you know it. I’ll just suggest that we plan around the weekend of the 15th since it’s mid-month. Do plan on arriving beforehand. I think having the majority of the reunion activities over a three to four day period would be good, and would give everyone a target for travel arrangements. How does the 13th-17th sound? I am planning on taking the week off from work, so don’t limit yourselves to just 4 days! Let us know if you are driving or flying. The three airports are XNA (1 hour drive), Ft. Smith (1 hour to 1.5 hour drive), and Tulsa (2 hour drive or so). We can arrange to pick you up if you’re not renting a car.
  3. What sleeping/lodging arrangements do you want? We have lots of options. Barbara has guest space available with 2 single bedrooms and a double bedroom, plus room for sleeping bags if necessary. I have the Taj Mahal, which has 2 single bedrooms, a double bedroom, and a double futon in the living room. The bunkhouse above the barn is a one bedroom apartment with three sleeping couches in the living room and a double bedroom with a cot. I’m building a primitive cabin in the woods above the creek, it will be ready for the reunion and will have a double bed and sleeping porch + outhouse, no electricity. I have already built an outdoor shower to take the load off my septic tank! There is room for tents around the barn area, and the new shower and a toilet accessible from the outside of the gas station is available for campers. Two kind (and brave) neighbors in Goshen have offered their guestrooms to nonsmoking adults. I have already had two requests from family groups to stay at the farm, and I intend to accommodate as many people here as I can. The other options for lodging are: Hotels in Fayetteville. Most are a 20-30 minute drive from the farm, and 10 minutes from Barbara’s. I can look around and get a group rate. I can also see about renting travel trailers/ campers and having them here for the reunion. These might be good for families with kids. I think they cost about $300 for a weekend but haven’t looked much into this, I will if you’d like!
  4. Food and cooking. I have 2.5 kitchens here, and Barbara has one. We’ll cook as much as we can at home to keep the costs down. I’m thinking about having some catering done, such as for our big get-togethers, so we can all just visit and enjoy! A family group could also be responsible for one meal, if they want, from prep to cleanup. I will keep a separate vegan kitchen, but need to know in advance about specific requirements. Sometimes I may need to use the vegan kitchen for prep of compatible non-vegan food. While I’m talking about this, let’s keep it as green as we can and recycle!
  5. Budget and a reunion committee.Everyone traveling will be spending $ just to get here, those of us that are here will be your hosts and there are costs on both ends. Is anyone interested in being on a committee to help figure out the logistics and finances?
  6. The fun stuff: Coming together as our large, wonderful extended family is the best thing! I have a few new ideas for this one, like having a scanning station for old pictures, starting a story board of our past reunions and family memories, and also a reunion T-shirt. Let me know what you want to do, give me your ideas, and let’s have a great reunion.