Festival brings people to Tyronza, a finalist for state and regional awards

by Michael Wilkey ([email protected]) 610 views 

Tyronza Mayor Charles Glover said Wednesday (March 23) that a festival each year in his town brings visitors as well as the support of volunteers in making the festival a success.

The Stars and Stripes Festival was a finalist this year for the Bootstraps Award at the Arkansas Governor’s Conference on Tourism as well as festival of the year for the Arkansas Delta Byways program. While the city did not receive either award, Glover said a group of volunteers work all year to raise money for operating the festival.

The festival began in 2002 by then-Mayor Marion Bearden as a way to honor veterans and have a celebration in the town, Glover said. This year’s festival on June 10 and 11 will coincide with another milestone in the town’s history – the town’s 90th birthday.

“It is the 90th anniversary of our incorporation,” Glover said. “We were founded in May 1926. We were a town before then. So we hope to have a good birthday party this year.”

The two-day festival typically draws visitors from northeast Arkansas and around the state.

In 2014, the traveling Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall was a part of the festival in a field behind the town’s elementary school. In addition to a parade each year, the festival has an interesting series of events, Glover said. Residents participated in concerts as well as a rock, paper, scissors tournament last year plus a cast-iron skillet throw.

While there is no exact way to determine the number of people who visit the festival each year, Glover said the visits have had an impact on the local economy.

“It has been a boom to the local economy. It gets the word out about Tyronza, especially with the new interstate (I-555),” Glover said, noting the festival received a $2,000 grant from the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism to help with advertising this year.

In addition to the festival, the Southern Tenant Farmer’s Union museum is on Main Street down from the city hall while a plan is underway to turn the old U.S. 63 that runs through town into a bicycle and walking trail.

“We are in a great place for tourism,” Glover said. “We are sitting in a great location, but we have to figure out ways to capitalize on it.”

The town is halfway between Jonesboro and Memphis, plus the Big River Steel project is being built about 30 minutes away in Osceola. The town of about 750 people also has two restaurants on Main Street, as well as a senior center and several churches.

Glover said the town will benefit from the interstate designation as well as being close to Jonesboro. Several construction projects, including the Keller Convention Center and Red Wolf Convention Center projects in Jonesboro, will bring people through the town to possibly visit once they are built.

Glover said the perceived limited opportunity for tourism in northeast Arkansas should not deter anyone.

“I would say that Northeast Arkansas now is where Northwest Arkansas was 30 years ago,” Glover said of the potential for growth.

Glover, who likes to fish, said he recently took a trip to cast a line on the White River in the Ozarks. He noted small towns like Gassville and Cotter have built tourism through people fishing for rainbow trout.

“I’ll tell you, there is a lot of economic activity,” Glover said of the tourism industry.