September 24, 2014 Edition
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The crowd cheers as Beatles tribute band Liverpool Legends perform "I Saw Her Standing There" at Beatles at the Ridge Saturday night to close the festival. Thousands attended the festival, which began Friday evening and continued all day Saturday.
TD Photo ~ John Bland
Festival draws crowd,
provides boost for businesses
The fourth annual Beatles at the Ridge Festival held this weekend was a success with thousands attending and multiple new events offering a variety of activities to the public.
While an accurate estimate of attendees is near impossible to attain, Charles Snapp, festival committee chair, said, "These two days of festival activities were the best two days we've had, and I was very pleased to see the concert area completely full for the last two bands."
In addition to live shows and vendors, this year's festival featured several new attractions, including a carnival, the artists and authors symposium and a reality TV star meet and greet.
Black River Technical College presented the artists and authors symposium at this year's festival. Zebulon Blansett, program specialist with BRTC, said lectures had anywhere from 23 to 59 participants and that 235 people signed up for the drawing the college held in The Studio.
He also noted some of the locations people traveled from. Attendees came from Missouri, Mississippi, Tennessee, Texas, Kansas, Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia and Indiana. The furthest travelers who signed in with BRTC came from Wilmington, Del., and St. George, Utah.
Carrie Mae Snapp, owner of Imagine, said she saw a similar spread in her guestbook. "I thought it was interesting that these people came from all over to Walnut Ridge, and when you asked them why, they said it was for Beatles at the Ridge," she said.
Moonshinexxx Lights held a reality TV star meet and greet featuring Tyler Wood of "Moonshiners" and Bobby Brantley of "Lizard Lick Towing" all day Saturday.
Bobby Macom, co-owner of Moonshinexxx Lights, said, "There was very seldom a time we didn't have at least 100 people at our booth." The owners estimate about 5,000 people came through the line during the meet and greet.
Those attending the festival also provided a boon to several businesses in the area.
Employees at Moni's Grill said the restaurant was wall-to-wall on Saturday and also had increased business on Friday, as well. Owner Wanda Powers said, "I believe this was the best festival to date and we are looking forward to next year."
Ma and Pa's Flea Market saw some come in from the festival though business overall was slower than usual on Saturday.
Carrie Mae said she sold more over the weekend than she does in three months. She said not only does that benefit her, but also those who sold through consignment in the store.
She also added that a lot of that money comes from people who came in from outside of the area, which boosts the local economy.
In addition to many others from out of state, festival committee member Gretchen Hunt recalled meeting a man from Wisconsin. After asking how he found out about the festival, the man said he was in Mountain Home in May and saw a full page ad in the "Ozark Gateway 2014 Visitor's Guide." Hunt added, "He said he decided that day he was coming to the festival."
Carrie Mae said the festival is continuing to grow and many who follow the Beatles festival circuit are starting to attend Beatles at the Ridge.
"They tell me they love Walnut Ridge and that everyone is so nice here," she said. "They'll come back, you treat them right and they'll come back."