The Beatles drive tourism in Walnut Ridge

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 220 views 

Walnut Ridge is just a hop, skip and a jump from Jonesboro, but the northeast Arkansas community is hoping visitors will come to “twist and shout.”

As part of a major downtown renovation, Walnut Ridge economic leaders aim to capitalize on the popular ’60′s band, The Beatles.

The Beatles visited Walnut Ridge in 1964 landing their airplane in route to a tour break in Missouri. City leaders and local businessmen see an opportunity to carve out a tourism niche.

As a matter of fact, a carving is part of the attraction.

Businessman Charles Snapp cleared away two downtown buildings to create a pocket park that is home to a $30,000 Beatles sculpture.

They’ve hosted a concert with the Liverpool Legends, a Beatles cover band managed by George Harrison’s sister. In September, nearly 5,000 fans turned out in Walnut Ridge to cheer them on despite horrendous weather.

The park and the sculpture are just two parts of a bigger vision. The city renamed the entrance road to the park Abbey Lane and it sports a similar image of the legendary album cover. An arts and crafts store named after John Lennon’s hit “Imagine” has also opened.

Walnut Ridge sits along Highway 67, which the state legislature renamed “The Rock-and-Roll” highway in order to highlight the music legends who once toured and traveled the fabled road. Honky-tonks and small venues were the musical locales where folks like Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and Jerry Lee Lewis cut their teeth.

Link to this story to see a video of other things the community is doing to maximize its Beatles connection.