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Press Contact: Mary Elizabeth Beary 618.447.8333
Beatles at the Ridge Festival
Second Annual Event a Resounding Success!
(Walnut Ridge, AR) The Walnut Ridge region is abuzz about this year’s second annual Beatles on the Ridge Festival held September 15, 2012. Despite the drizzly day, crowds young and old spent the day enjoying food from nearly 100 local vendors, live music on the streets, boutique and shop owners’ beatle-esque artwork splashed on every window front, and later were wowed by Louise Harrison’s handpicked Beatles tribute band, Liverpool Legends. Headlining this year’s event was son of Rock n’ Roll legend, Carl Perkins, backed up by Sonny Burgess and the Pacers. Stan Perkins, a life-long musician who managed his Dad’s band for over a decade, couldn’t say enough wonderful things about the festival, and the warm, inviting people of Walnut Ridge, “Above everything, it was perfect. The hospitality was beautiful, the genuineness of it all, they were all very prepared, everything was covered, even with the rain. All of that together, with this great little town - that just sewed it up for me. This is the way it should be.” With a population of just less than 5,000, a whopping 10,000 people showed up this year, doubling the numbers of last year’s event. Walnut Ridge has a unique claim to fame with the Beatles touching down by private plane in secret, in their sleepy little town on September 18, 1964. One man recalled the Beatles showing off with playful antics as they returned to their plane after their brief vacation at the Ozarks that weekend. Today, Walnut Ridge has their very own Abbey Road downtown, adorned with last year’s incredible, life like sculpture of the Beatles on Abbey Road, created by local artist Danny West. This year’s festival included an entire day of events and musical delights beginning at 9 am with an ATF Martial Arts demonstration benefitting The Children’s Shelter. Marilyn’s Clogging Company performed and live bands played to throngs of happy people from 10 am up through 9 pm that evening. Culminating in very special performances by Liverpool Legends and followed by Stan Perkins, there was music, food and fun for every age. The Guitar Walk at Cavenaugh Park, the towns newest addition, was unveiled by city and state officials
along with families of a few of the legendary musicians
Photo provided by The Times Dispatch – Stan and Connie Perkins
honored along the walk. A unique concept sure to get the attention of music buffs throughout the region and beyond, is the 115 x 40 foot concrete sculpture in the shape of an Epiphone Casino electric guitar. The walk is dotted with beautiful plaques paying tribute to greats like Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash among others, and detailed with the rich history about the legends that touched the town, complete with plaques of photos, information and audio for each legend honored along the way. On hand to unveil his Father’s plaque, Stan Perkins with wife Connie, recalls the unveiling as the most memorable part of the day “It goes without saying, the guitar walk and how that was put together, the plaque for my Dad was put together as classy as it could be. It tells a lot of history. When I unveiled my Dad's plaque it brought on a little emotion. You know, I worked with my Dad for 22 years out on the road. I went all around the world with him. Those pictures on the plaque, I remember. I was there” He humbly adds, “To realize just being an average musician myself, what a blessing I had to have had Carl Perkins as my dad, not only from a musical standpoint, but as a man I dearly loved. It was my whole musical life that was flashing in my mind when they unveiled that plaque and seeing all those pictures. That was the highlight for me, personally.” Liverpool Legends musician who plays George Harrison, Marty Scott, recounts, “A couple years back Charles Snapp called and told me they were putting this really cool event together to promote tourism there in Walnut Ridge. He had lots of great marketing ideas and I knew it was going to turn into a big event. The first year got lots of press (even international) and for a tiny little town in Arkansas we all thought that was pretty amazing. After two years the place is kind of feeling like home. We love being a part of it. There is a really cool rock and roll history in that town and it's great helping the world find out a out it. This year we got to do our full blown two hour show and it was a blast. Honestly we love the hospitality there and the people are just awesome.”
Stan Perkins adds, “I’ve dealt with promoters all over the world for 30 years, Jackie and Charles [Snapp] really impressed me. I could see they put their heart and soul into it. I was really impressed by Charles with his nose to the grindstone, and making this happen. He was like a horse with blinders on. He had one direction and that was to succeed. And he did it in a classy way and all from hard work. This was an unselfish labor of love to keep the historical value [of the music] as the main thing. After Jackie and Charles left my house after talking about the festival, I told my wife Connie, ‘Let me tell you something, they're the real deal. Their heart is into this.’ They saw the connection between rockabilly music and rock n roll with the Beatles, and my Dad and the others, and I saw how much they respected my Dad's music and what an influence he had on the Beatles and on rock n roll music.” Walnut Ridge tends to envelop a person’s very heart with their warm welcomes, laughter and hospitality that is second to none. The devotion and commitment of this little town is a tremendous testament to all that America stands for in preserving what we hold dear, and making great things happen with a shared goal and hard work. “Many of us share a vision of small business owners, bringing back the realities associated with a downtown area. 10 small businesses, each with three employees is equal to a small factory, yet all the money stays in town. Not to mention what will happen if we bring in a nice restaurant that has 40 to 50 employees, or a new motel,” says tourism committee member, Charles Snapp. Donations poured to create the Guitar Walk from in-kind work topping $100,000.00, to individuals donating everything from $3.00 to $23,900.00, with many of the donations coming from out of state. Fifty percent came from folks with Walnut Ridge roots, “Most of that 50% have lived here at one time and still call Walnut Ridge home, in their hearts,” adds Snapp. Snapp attributes the motivation behind holding such a labor-exhaustive endeavor each year to a business decision
made to revitalize and preserve the area’s musical history, and to establish economic development through tourism. His hopes are for the masses of people who experience the festival to begin to lay an even larger foundation through word of mouth, further bolstering their current marketing plans. “The renaming of Arkansas State Highway 67, to Rock n' Roll Highway 67 put the tourism committee in search mode, looking for our niche for economic development through tourism. The one thing that separated Walnut Ridge from other towns along Rock n' Roll Highway 67 was the fact that the Beatles made a surprise stop-over here in 1964, thus The British Invasion of the Rock n' Roll Highway was in place when we unveiled the tribute to The Beatles last year. That led us to form the Beatles at the Ridge music festival, "Where Abbey Road meets the Rock n' Roll Highway" and tie our 50's era musical heritage, to that third weekend in September of 64, when the world's most famous rock band, stepped off the plane here.” Lawrence County Tourism Committee chairman, Brett Cooper was happy about this year’s success as well, “We had many reports of vendors selling out of their merchandise. The weather was not ideal, but the people just kept coming and all the events went off as planned. The folks who organized the festival did an outstanding job, making it an entertaining event that seemed to have a little something for everyone. There was a "Tie Die the Town" effort leading up to the festival, and we were blown away by the community's reaction. We had about 75 businesses decorating their windows and shops. In a town our size, that's huge. Seeing folks in the community throw their support behind the festival and the Rock n’ Roll Highway 67 has been incredibly rewarding. We want visitors to stop in Walnut Ridge, and this gives them a really good reason to do so. If they stop long enough to tour the Guitar Walk, and then walk a couple of blocks to experience Beatles Park, there's a good chance they'll eat a meal and will be inclined to visit again and will spread the word to others.” Beatles at the Ridge so talented in Charles goes on to share his thoughts on what makes the event so successful, “Members of the team are talented in things from media, finance and marketing to metal work… with an unusual ability to share a a vision. We hope the state and the world see just what can be done when a community pulls together for the common good of everyone. Revitalization is already underway and we hope to see more of those who dream of having a quaint shop, in a great community, come to Walnut Ridge and share our dream and appreciate our vision.”
Charles Snapp with Louise Harrison
http://www.beatlesattheridge.com/ http://cityofwalnutridge.com/ http://liverpoollegends.com/ http://www.rockabillyhall.com/StanPerkins1.html http://www.encyclopediaofarkansas.net/encyclopedia/entry-detail.aspx?entryID=2491
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