August 23, 2017 Edition

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BatR offers two
days of entertainment

The seventh annual Beatles at the Ridge Festival is set for Friday, Sept. 15, and Saturday Sept. 16, in downtown Walnut Ridge. This year's Friday events have been expanded to offer two days of entertainment to festival goers.

"While Beatles at the Ridge has always included Friday evening activities, this year the festival has expanded to truly be a two-day event," Gretchen Hunt, chair of the Lawrence County Chamber Board, said.

The Chamber's Festival Committee, which is chaired by Walnut Ridge Mayor Charles Snapp, organizes the annual event, which has continued to grow each year since it was established in 2011 to celebrate The Beatles' 1964 visit to the Walnut Ridge Airport.

"No doubt, we have the best lineup ever, especially for our Artists and Authors Symposium," Snapp said. "Friday afternoon and evening is now a ‘must see' for fans everywhere. Hats off to Jude Southlard Kessler for the amazing work she has done as symposium chair. Walnut Ridge and the festival attendees will be amazed."

This year, The Studio, which houses the Artists and Authors Symposium, will open at 2 p.m. on Friday for viewing of a special exhibit of photographs of The Beatles, known as the Argenta Collection.

Kessler encourages everyone to arrive early to be sure they have a seat for the 3:30 p.m. "John Lennon" concert, which will be in the air-conditioned Studio.

"Our Friday symposium will kick off with an hour-long concert by one of the most famous John Lennon impersonators in America, Alan Bernhoft," Kessler said. "Then teen-talent Cameron Hicks will perform Beatles hits for our ‘Meet and Greet' celebrating featured author Bruce Spizer, who has penned nine books on The Beatles."

The evening will bring more excitement for Beatles enthusiasts.

"As a surprise for all attendees, at 5:45 p.m., I'll be interviewing three of the people who actually took part in that 1964 tour that brought The Beatles to Walnut Ridge," Kessler said. "It's a rare, historical moment that we'll be filming for posterity. You don't want to miss the Friday lineup! It's mind-blowing."

In addition, Deadwood Groove will perform at 6 p.m. on the Beatles Park Stage. The evening will round out with a performance by The Legendary Pacers, who will take the stage at 7:15 p.m. as a tribute to Sonny Burgess, who passed away on Friday.

"Sonny Burgess and The Legendary Pacers have been longtime friends and supporters of our festival, as well as crowd favorites when they perform," Snapp said. "Sonny will be greatly missed, but we know The Legendary Pacers' performance that night will be one fans will not want to miss."

Activities will continue on Saturday, Sept. 16, as vendors line the streets, entertainment is presented on both sides of Main Street, contests and activities are held and the Artists and Authors Symposium continues in The Studio.

The festival will conclude with a performance by Branson's Liverpool Legends from 7:30-9:30 p.m. A full schedule of events can be found at beatlesattheridge.com.

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