Tag Archives: tourism

Trips for Families to shopping Local Economy



Cavern Headlamp Tour

Take the Blanchard Springs Caverns in  Mountain View. Tours are on Saturdays at 12:45 pm. This one-hour tour through part of the middle level of the caverns goes through large water-carved passages. See marvelous formations using only a helmet-mounted light. With nearly 200 stairs, this tour is not recommended for those with walking or health problems. Call for rates and reservations.

Blanchard Springs Caverns Visitor Center, Mountain View

Phone: 870-757-2211


Archeology Day at Petit Jean

Archeology Day at Petit Jean State Park near Morrilton is March 17. March is Archeology Month in Arkansas, and you are invited to spend a day discovering some of the archeological treasures of Petit Jean Mountain, including the genuine Native American pictographs of Rock House Cave. Contact the park for a schedule.

1285 Petit Jean Mountain Road, Morrilton

Phone: 501-727-5441

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Beatles Said a Fast Hello, Goodbye but a Tiny Town Won’t Let It Be

WALNUT RIDGE, Ark.—It was more than a day in the life for folks in this sleepy southern farm town.

Forty-seven years ago, at the height of Beatlemania, three teenagers here in the Lawrence County seat in northeast Arkansas ventured out one quiet Friday night to investigate reports that a large plane was mysteriously buzzing over a dusty World War II-era airstrip.

Town Remembers Beatles Flyby

View Slideshow


Newell Mock

John Lennon boarded a plane in Walnut Ridge, Ark.

More photos and interactive graphics

They came back with a fantastic story: It was the Beatles. They’d just hung out.

Now, Walnut Ridge is trying to cash in on the biggest thing ever to hit the town of 4,925—a fleeting stopover by the lads from Liverpool that connects it, however tenuously, to musical history. Few believed the teenagers’ story at the time, but the Fab Four had a respite between concerts and were sneaking to a dude ranch in nearby Missouri owned by Reed Pigman Sr., the businessman whose charter airline was whisking them from show to show. For a few minutes, they stood on the tarmac and chatted with locals before heading off to play cowboys.

“We were kids and had a big story to tell,” recalls one of the boys, Richard Thomas, now a 65-year-old financial planner for Merrill Lynch in Augusta, Ga. “You never would have expected to find the Beatles in Walnut Ridge, Arkansas.”

On the event’s 47th anniversary Sunday, Walnut Ridge unveiled a metal sculpture of the Beatles, modeled on the famed “Abbey Road” album cover (John, Ringo, Paul and George strolling in a crosswalk), and hosted a concert by the Liverpool Legends, Beatles impersonators managed by the sister of the late George Harrison. Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, the group’s two surviving members, were invited, though no one really expected them to show up.

It’s part of a budding campaign by Walnut Ridge to capitalize on its smidgen-size brush with Beatles greatness and turn it into a tourist attraction.

“The Beatles were there for about 15 minutes!” jokes former musician Bob Tucker, part of the Beatles’ opening act on that tour, Bill Black’s Combo. Now an Arkansas businessman, he amusingly calls the tourism drive “the biggest stretch in the history of show business,” though he doesn’t blame boosters for trying.

Walnut Ridge learned the local teens weren’t fibbing hours after their fateful run-in with the Beatles back in 1964, when a pilot staying at a motel leaked to townsfolk that he’d indeed flown the band—and that they were coming back to depart.

Word got around. By the time the Beatles returned to Arkansas to fly to a gig in New York that Sunday, several hundred excited youngsters were waiting, screaming and snapping photographs.

“I didn’t understand the significance of it. I was into folk music at the time,” says H.T. Moore, who covered the story for the local paper as a high school senior, but forgot to bring a camera. “It was just a real fast, in and out, but the girls were beside themselves, touching the ground where they had walked.”

The Beatles boarded the plane and got back to where they once belonged. That’s the end of the story.

Or at least it would have been, if anyone in Walnut Ridge had ever stopped talking about it.

They never have. Aging women still get weepy retelling where they were when they heard the Beatles were coming to Walnut Ridge, what Easter dress they wore and what trinkets adorned their charm bracelets.

Some still mourn the fact that they weren’t allowed to go because in this stretch of the Bible Belt, parents didn’t let kids miss church on Sunday just to catch a glimpse of some goofy looking Britons.

A stretch of U.S. 67 officially named the “Rock ‘N’ Roll Highway” by Arkansas already runs through town, since Johnny Cash, an Arkansas native, and Elvis Presley played early gigs in the area. Pioneering Sun Records was about 90 miles away in Memphis, so boosters figure they can piggyback on the nostalgia tourism going on.

They tracked down the red 1962 GMC Suburban two Beatles pulled up to the airport in the day the band departed, and had the impersonators roll out of it Sunday at the celebration. They’re trying to rename a local street Abbey Road. A documentary crew is shooting a movie.

“If people will get off a highway to see the largest ball of twine, well, this is a lot more interesting than that,” says Carrie Mae Snapp, who headed the town’s “Beatles 4 Evermore” fan club in 1964 at age 14, but only managed to snag a photo of the back of Mr. McCartney’s head as he boarded the airplane. “I picked up some cigarette butts at the airport. I might have some John Lennon DNA.”

While boosters are eager to capture the spotlight, and rake in a few sales-tax dollars, they have maintained a distance from the current owners of the former Pigman Ranch in Missouri, a nonprofit organization that is selling lots for development under the slogan “The Beatles Slept Here.”

The Buildings for Babies Ranch Foundation plans to auction off the ranch’s furnishings as Beatles memorabilia, including the toilet: “Sit on the same throne as the Beatles!” a marketing brochure exclaims. Its chief executive, who says the group aids underprivileged children, expects the bathroom set to fetch $25,000.

For Kathy Hall, who was 12 when the Beatles whirled through Walnut Ridge, the tourism drive is a nice way to help out a small town with a slowly dwindling population. But the Beatles visit will ultimately always be about the memories.

Ms. Hall’s father was the mayor of Walnut Ridge back in 1964, and he made sure that before the Beatles took off on that airplane, all four members signed his little girl’s copy of their latest album, “Something New.”

Two years later, he died of a heart attack. Ms. Hall still has that album, stored in a vault.

“If someone offered me a million dollars, I don’t think I would sell it,” says Ms. Hall, now 59 and an assistant school principal in Tennessee. “The Beatles weren’t even there long enough to drink a cup of coffee. But that time is very special to me.”

Write to Miguel Bustillo at miguel.bustillo@wsj.com

Planned AR monument to Beatles gets new location

WALNUT RIDGE, Ark. (AP) – WALNUT RIDGE – Plans to build a monument and mini-museum celebrating the Beatles at the Walnut Ridge Airport have changed.

Citing possible Federal Aviation Agency objections and larger-than-expected crowds, the Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce Tourism Committee announced Wednesday the project will be moved to downtown Walnut Ridge, maybe near the Chamber of Commerce building.

“We’ve met with (Airport Commission chairman) Dan Coker, and there are some concerns about the crowds,” Tourism Committee chairman Brett Cooper said. “Interest in this has been much higher than expected.”

A statue depicting the Fab Four making their famous walk across Abbey Road in London will likely be placed near a proposed Guitar Plaza on a swath of ground near the chamber on U.S. 67 in downtown Walnut Ridge, committee member Charles Snapp said.

The original plan was to put the statue at the airport near the area where John Lennon​, Paul McCartney​, Ringo Starr​ and George Harrison landed Sept. 19, 1964. It’s the only documented time the Beatles ever set foot in Arkansas, tourism officials said.

Band members landed at the airport on their way to a dude ranch in southern Missouri for a 2-day vacation during their famed tour of the United States. The four were greeted by hundreds of local fans on their return to the airport, from which they flew to New York.

Besides the monument, officials had planned to open a Beatles tribute in a section of the Wings of Honor Museum, but there isn’t enough space, Snapp said. A decision about where to put the tribute section has not been reached.

Airport officials have not definitively said the monument can’t be placed there, and Cooper said there is no lingering animosity. “We understand they have legitimate concerns, and they’ve been very cordial in working with us,” Cooper said.

Tourism officials still hope a short movie that documented the Beatles stop in Walnut Ridge can be played continuously at the airport for incoming pilots or others who might be interested.

Plans to unveil the statue on Sept. 19 are still unchanged, Cooper said. The downtown area would also provide more space for the planned festival that weekend, he said.

Louise Harrison​, George Harrison’s sister, is scheduled to attend. The Liverpool Legends are scheduled to perform – the group does impersonations of the Beatles in Branson, Mo.

Magazines and television shows from around the country and world have called and expressed an interest in the project, Snapp said.

Other entertainment and acts will be announced in coming weeks, he added.

Over the last couple of years the Tourism Committee has been trying to find ways to promote Lawrence County’s rich, unique musical history. Rock ‘n’ roll legends Elvis Presley​, Jerry Lee Lewis​, Johnny Cash​ and others played at honky-tonks and other venues up and down U.S. 67 in the early 1950s.

A Guitar Park is slated to be built to honor those legends, and officials hope the combination the plaza and monument will attract tourists and generate economic activity in the area.

“We’re really excited right now,” Cooper said.

Walks Through History Tour, Sat, Aug, 13th, 2011

Walks Through History Tour, Sat, Aug, 13th, 2011

Walnut Ridge Commercial Historic District Tour.

Walnut Ridge,  The Tour group will meet at the Missouri-Pacific Depot at 109 SW Front St. Co-sponsored by Downtown Walnut Ridge.
August 13,  2011 – at 11:00 a.m.  Walnut Ridge Commercial Historic District
WALKS THROUGH HISTORY SCHEDULE,   This is a series of Tours,  I will Announce each month,  Where,  Date,  Time, and a small description of the Tour.

This is a great way to learn about the city of Walnut Ridge and the History behind it.

For further information go to,  http://www.arkansaspreservation.com,  Phone no. is – 1-501-324-9880

The “guide through the history” of this program is a series of walking tours out monthly looking to familiarize people who live and work in communities outside of central Arkansas with historic structures and sites around. Presented by the Historic Preservation Program Arkansas,  an agency of the Department of Arkansas Heritage, tours begin at 11 am Saturday and lasts one to two hours. AHPP staff historian leads the tour with a brief lecture on the properties visited and its history.

Walnut Ridge Commercial Historic District. Walnut Ridge developed in the 1870s after the St. Louis Iron Mountain and Southern Railroad announced plans to build a line in eastern Lawrence County. Because of its location between Crowley’s Ridge and the Ozark Mountains,  a wide variety of crops grown in Lawrence County,  including cotton, corn, wheat,  vegetables and fruits. Extensive forests of oak,  walnut, cypress,  walnut and harvested as well. Walnut Ridge has become a regional transport hub of agricultural and wood products. City population declined during the Great Depression,  but Walnut Ridge experienced a boom in the second after 1940 the U.S. military built an airfield nearby. The Walnut Ridge Army Air Field the civil employees in all jobs except the military training until the end of World War II and serves as a municipal airport today. The tour group will meet at the Missouri-Pacific Depot, 109 St. SW before

Co-sponsored by the Center Ridge, Walnut.

Randolph County Tourism Association

Randolph County offers something for everyone from outdoor recreation, historical sites, monuments and attractions, arts, museums, unique shopping, historic downtown square, beautiful fiver rivers and many of Arkansas Firsts! Come and enjoy all that Randolph County Has to Offer.

Rock and Roll Highway 67 Music Festival – October.

National Canoe Races – July.