Brian Chilson

To celebrate Governor Hutchinson’s lifting of the mask mandate, Fort Smith Brewing Company is throwing a public mask burning on Friday. The governor lifted the mandate Tuesday, one day after a White House briefing where CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky described feeling a sense of “impending doom” about the rising level of cases and a day after President Biden asked states reinstate mask mandates.

The pandemic has not yet ended in the U.S. or Arkansas. According to the New York Times, 68,162 were reported in the US on March 31. Max Brantley reported on Tuesday that the U.K. and California variants have been identified in 17 cases in Arkansas. There were 212 new reported cases in the state yesterday and 10 new deaths.


Studies have shown that “mandating masks was associated with a decrease in daily COVID-19 case and death growth rates within 20 days of implementation.”

So why the celebration? The company explained its position on its Facebook event page:

The end of the Mask Mandate is official and we’d like to celebrate this Friday! Whether you’re happy to not be forced to wear a mask or you have some old ones you want to get rid of, we’re burning them!
For us personally the mandate being lifted is the government allowing citizens to make their own decisions. Whether we are self destructive, make mistakes, or just want to quietly live by our own mantra the government should not be involved in our personal decision making.
It should be the right of each individual to make their own positive or negative decisions. If someone is of the belief that everyone should wear masks, then they should have the right to wear that mask and shop at businesses that share similar values.
But if someone does not want to wear a mask, they should have the right to make that choice as well and shop at businesses that equally share their values.
Our government banned alcohol at one time because they believed people who consumed it harmed themselves and others. Prohibition, however, had more negative effects than positive.
Trillions of dollars spent, people prisoned, and people lost their lives trying to prevent others from using marijuana and now the government is starting to realize it is better to let people be people and make their own decisions instead of curb their habits. Let’s not even get into all the times our government has failed with laws and regulations that were detrimental to civil rights. Just recently Arkansas banned abortions and our federal government is talking about putting more restrictions on our 2nd Amendment rights.
Our government is amazing and we trust that overall we are moving in the right direction. But sometimes we get it wrong and it’s ok to celebrate when we fix those mistakes.
If you are someone that thinks the mandate was lifted too early and do not want to be exposed to people not wearing masks, we encourage you to use our other three options to stay safe during these times.
1.) You can order beer/food to be delivered to your home 7 days a week:
2.) You can order pick-up online at:
3.) You can utilize our outdoor patio with wide open spaces with plenty of separation and lots of clean air.
We are in agreement with the government that people should still be vigilant and wash hands, use sanitizer, and if you are sick you should stay home. These are life long principles that can protect all of us no matter what the virus or bacteria is.