September12, 2012 Edition

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Beatles at the Ridge is Saturday

Eric Wilmes of Custom Concrete Creations in Paragould attaches "strings" to the Guitar Walk at Cavenaugh Park. Perry Manus (not shown) did metal work and welding on the strings and other components of the park. Various work crews and individuals have been working swiftly to complete the park in time for its formal opening with a 3 p.m. ribbon cutting during Saturday's Beatles at the the Ridge festival.
TD Photo ~ John Bland

After months of planning and intense preparation, the Beatles at the Ridge music festival is set for Saturday in Downtown Walnut Ridge.

A full slate of activities and entertainment will span the downtown area, culminating with the ribbon cutting of Guitar Walk at Cavenaugh Park and an evening of vintage rock 'n' roll music, all of which is free of charge.

The festival will also include a Beatles Sing-Along on Friday night and a 5K race for runners and their canine companions Saturday morning.

"We have activities that will appeal to all ages and keep everyone in the family entertained all day long," Lorra Whitmire, festival chair, said. "Beatles at the Ridge is a big event."

The festival begins at 9 a.m. Saturday. Vendors and exhibitors will set up on both sides of Main Street, and entertainment will be featured on three stages.

The Iron Mountain Stage will be set up in the Regions Bank parking lot, north of Main Street, and it will feature entertainment by local performers and studios all day long, leading up to the Nuttin' but Talent Show, sponsored by Walmart, at 2:10 p.m.

Also going on near the Iron Mountain Stage will be a duck calling contest. A demonstration begins at 10 a.m., with duck calling competition starting at 11 a.m.

The Rumblin' Around the Ridge Bike Show starts at 10 a.m., with several different prizes to be awarded. Motorcycles are welcome, and proceeds from the entry fees go toward the Lawrence County Angel Tree fund.

The cute doggie costume contest, sponsored by the Randolph County Humane Society, starts at 12:30 p.m. Those entering are asked to provide proof of rabies vaccination and have their dog on a leash. The costume should represent a Beatles song. The contest will be held on SW Second Street, on the sidewalk next to Lawrence Agency.

Beatles Park on Abbey Road will also host an array of performers during the festival, including the Murphy Bluegrass Boys at 10 a.m., Hairy Larry and George at 11:30 a.m., Blue Wave at 1 p.m. and the Bottom of the Barrel Boys at 2:30 p.m.

The Arkansas Razorbacks football game with Alabama will be featured on a giant TV screen near Beatles Park. A juried arts and crafts show will also be set up on Abbey Road, and a car show for Volkswagen Beetles and VW buses will be held there, as well.

Ribbon to be cut at Guitar Walk

The ribbon will be cut at Guitar Walk at Cavenaugh Park at 3 p.m., and the site will be officially opened to the public. The 115-foot-long walk in the shape of an Epiphone Casino guitar will be lined with detailed tributes to rockabilly music legends who once performed in the area, as well as an audio tour. It is adjacent to the Iron Mountain Depot on Hwy. 67.

"This has come together better than we could ever have imagined," said Charles Snapp of the Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce Tourism Committee.

"The Guitar Walk is a work of art in itself, and it does a great job of telling the story of the rockabilly legends who performed along Rock 'n' Roll Highway 67."

The Guitar Walk is to be lined with museum-quality displays that pay tribute to nine early rock pioneers who performed in Northeast Arkansas, mainly in the mid-1950s.

The site will also feature an audio tour, with narration by Sun Studios recording artist Sonny Burgess, as well as music by each of the artists.

"The opening of Guitar Walk at Cavenaugh Park is a major event, and people are going to be very impressed with what they see," Snapp said. "The ribbon cutting is a great way to lead into some great music across the street on the Rock 'n' Roll Highway Stage."

The Liverpool Legends, who drew a huge crowd at last year's festival, will perform at 4 p.m. on the Rock 'n' Roll Highway Stage, located across Hwy. 67 from the Iron Mountain Depot. Louise Harrison, sister of late Beatles member George Harrison, operates the Beatles tribute band from Branson, Mo., and is also expected to be in attendance.

Sonny Burgess & the Legendary Pacers will take the stage at 7 p.m., and Stan Perkins, son of rockabilly legend Carl Perkins, will perform at 8 p.m.

Organizers have also confirmed that historian and music videographer Ken King will attend this year's Beatles at the Ridge festival. King has decades of experience filming a variety of well-known musicians and groups.

He has also produced videos for a variety of well-known music venues, including the International Rockabilly Hall of Fame. At present, King is helping set up a museum at Barton Coliseum in Little Rock.

King's Beatles at the Ridge assignment will include documenting the ribbon cutting for Guitar Walk at Cavenaugh Park, with a primary focus on the 7 p.m. performance by Sonny Burgess & the Legendary Pacers.

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