The Times Dispatch, Walnut Ridge, Arkansas
John Bland, Publisher
Tourism is one of the leading industries in Arkansas and is gaining ground fast in Lawrence County due in large part to efforts in the Downtown Walnut Ridge area in recent years.
On a personal level, it’s fun to mention our new attractions when relatives or friends visit from out of town. Some of our Little Rock cousins were here Saturday with limited time, but we told them to be sure and make a stop to see the Beatles’ sculpture and the new shops on Abbey Road.
In his recent State of the City address, Mayor Don House expressed the importance of these efforts:
“The city was able to assist and encourage the Downtown Association in their valiant effort in adding the Cavenaugh Guitar Park to places to visit in our downtown area. One of the most successful (though wet) festivals in history was held this year … People were pumped up and they wanted a festival, and it happened in spite of the rain. There was considerable local, national and international media coverage of the event and for the city as a whole.”
People around the state are taking notice.
Downtown Walnut Ridge and the Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce were nominated for the Boot Strap Award, which was to be announced Tuesday night as part of the Henry Awards being presented at the 39th annual Governor’s Conference on Tourism in Hot Springs.
“The Bootstrap Award” is presented annually to an individual, organization or community that has achieved significant success “on a shoestring,” having limited means to work with either in resources or finances.
During this week’s conference, the community of Walnut Ridge was also recognized as the Welcome to Arkansas City of the Year.
The coverage and support of Lawrence County tourism in this year’s Ozark Gateway Guide has exploded this year with six pages of coverage, including color photos and a story entitled, “For an hour or an afternoon.” The coverage includes other parts of Lawrence County, from Powhatan Historic State Park and Lake Charles to the new Stan Jones Mallard Lodge at Clover Bend.
Lawrence County continues to get more involved with the Ozark Gateway Tourism Council and for the first time will be host to the annual Ozark Gateway Tourism Council banquet. It will be held April 11 at the Stan Jones Mallard Lodge.