April 26, 2017 Edition

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Commissioners and staff of the Arkansas Parks, Recreation and Travel Commission visited downtown Walnut Ridge on April 19. Mayor Charles Snapp (from left) visits with Jon Brown, park operations manager; Kris Richardson, Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism executive assistant; and Marcel Hanzlik, Region 3 supervisor.
TD Photo ~ John Bland

WR hosts Tourism Commission

John Bland

A dinner stop at The Studio and tour of downtown Walnut Ridge last Wednesday evening was the first event on the itinerary for a three-day meeting of the Arkansas Parks, Recreation and Travel Commission in Northeast Arkansas.

"To my knowledge, there has never been a commission meeting in Lawrence County," said Mayor Charles Snapp, who helped host the prestigious group.

Kane Webb, executive director of the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism, had visited downtown Walnut Ridge in November, along with a group of international buyers on a three-day familiarization music tour.

Kane said the commission tries to get out and see Arkansas to learn what is going on with tourism. After a late afternoon tour and dinner in Walnut Ridge, the group went on to tour the Dyess colony and Johnny Cash Boyhood Home on Thursday and finished up their meeting in Jonesboro on Friday.

While in downtown Walnut Ridge, the group of commissioners and Parks and Tourism staff toured Guitar Walk, Beatles Park, saw the Argenta Collection at the Lawrence County Library and toured the Hotel Rhea. A reception and dinner was held at The Studio at 5 p.m.

Snapp said the City of Walnut Ridge collaborated with the Downtown Walnut Ridge organization to host the commission, which included some 11 of the 17 members. Among the commissioners was Jim Dailey, former Little Rock mayor.

David Johnson, playing the cornet, provided live music on Abbey Road, while Barrett Kelley played Beatles and traditional rock-n-roll music on the keyboard in The Studio.

Mel Fender and Chicken Shack Produce served a catered dinner. Don and State Rep. Fran Cavenaugh donated the use of The Studio.

Mayor Snapp welcomed the group, and Dr. Tom Jones, president of Williams Baptist College, gave a blessing. Brett Cooper, a member of the Chamber Tourism Committee, was the featured speaker telling of the resurgence of tourism in Lawrence County in recent years.

Cooper talked about the recent tourism successes pertaining to The Beatles 1964 visit to Walnut Ridge. "It has given us a sense of a city moving forward. Success begets success, and it all happened because we had a crazy idea."

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