September 23, 2015 Edition

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PLAYING WASHBOARD AT BEATLES FEST - Jordan Vanover of Portia plays on Tim Hoggard's washboard during the Arkansas Brothers' set at the Beatles at the Ridge Festival Saturday in downtown Walnut Ridge.
TD Photo ~ Megan Heyl

Beatles festival grows in success

Gretchen Hunt
Editor

The fifth annual Beatles at the Ridge festival is in the books, and the event's success continues to impress both attendees and organizers.

Walnut Ridge Mayor Charles Snapp, who also serves as chair of the event committee, said Saturday started out slow with surrounding bad weather.

"By midday the crowds were building fast," he said. "No doubt, we finished the evening with the largest crowd to date."

Mike Doyle of Sedgwick is a return attendee to the festival and said he had a harder time finding a parking place than in any previous year.

Festival committee member Lorra Whitmire, who manned the T-shirt booth during the Liverpool Legends' performance, concurred that the Saturday evening crowd was the largest to date.

"The crowd overflowed from the parking lot," she said. "We had to move the T-shirt booth back to make room for all the people."

The festival not only saw big numbers, but also saw a lot of visitors from outside Arkansas.

"With at least 19 states and three foreign countries represented at this year's festival, there's no denying it ... Beatles at the Ridge has become a world-recognized event, benefitting all of Northeastern Arkansas," Snapp said.

Lawrence County native Lauren Richmond was among performers and said she hopes some day, while being interviewed about her career, she will be able to say, "Of course I love music! My hometown is smack dab in the middle of Abbey Road and the Rock ‘n' Roll Highway! Who wouldn't love those roots?"

The festival included an Elvis Presley Forever Stamp dedication ceremony on Friday morning and a variety of entertainers and speakers on Friday evening and Saturday.

"This event is a perfect example of what a community can achieve," Snapp said. "Plans are already underway for 2016."

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