By proclamation of Governor Asa Hutchinson, and in recognition of the positive economic, social, and cultural impact of the travel and tourism industry, Arkansas will celebrate May 2-10 as Tourism Week. In 2014, more than 26 million visitors traveled in Arkansas, spending an estimated $6.7 billion, which generated $460 million in state taxes and $460 million in state and local taxes.
Across the state, communities are planning to salute Tourism Week in a variety of ways. Following is a list of places and activities planned:
• Bentonville: The Arkansas Welcome Center, located on U.S. Hwy 71, will celebrate on May 8. Soft drinks, water and assorted freebies such as IDriveArkansas pencils, and coupons from War Eagle Mill will be offered. For more information, contact William Armacost, Bentonville Welcome Center manager, at 479-855-3111.
• Blytheville: The Arkansas Welcome Center in Blytheville, located on Interstate 55 South, will celebrate throughout the week. On May 2, the center will host a greyhound adoption group as well as a representative from Parkin Archeological State Park. On May 4, there will be a demonstration from the Sheriff’s Department as well as the State Police. Mayor James Sanders will be greeting guests on Wednesday and Representative Dave Wallace will be behind the desk on Thursday. On May 8, the Humane Society will be present with information. On May 9-10, the center will host a display of Case tractors. For more information, contact Carol Gozell, Blytheville Welcome Center manager, at 870-762-2512.
• Corning: The Arkansas Welcome Center in Corning, located on U.S. Hwy 67, will have events throughout the week. On May 4, the Delta Cultural Center of Helena will have several staff members onsite with door prizes, posters, souvenirs and refreshments. James Tinker of Black River Beads & Pottery in Pocahontas will be demonstrating how to mold clay into pottery items and displaying glass, beads and jewelry on May 6. On May 7, Jeff Newman, manager of the William H. Donham Fish Hatchery in Corning, will bring his “critters” for the public to view. A representative from Davidsonville State Park will be on hand May 8 teaching a class on dutch oven cooking and serving cobblers to participants. For more information, contact Barbara Harmon, Corning Welcome Center manager, at 870-857-6014.
• El Dorado: The Arkansas Welcome Center in El Dorado, located on U.S. Hwy 167, will serve coffee, mints and chocolate chip cookies to visitors throughout the week, and pass out samples of Riceland rice along with the 2013 Riceland Rice Winning Recipes book. On May 2, the El Dorado Police Department will greet guests. Displays from the local Mahaw Festival and historic photos of the El Dorado area will be on display all week. For more information, contact Gil Gilbert, El Dorado Welcome Center manager at 870-881-9160.
• Harrison: The Harrison Welcome Center, located on U.S. Hwy 65, will celebrate on May 5. Visitors will be served refreshments and snacks throughout the day. There will be a remote broadcast by local radio station KHOZ and writers and photographers from the Harrison Daily Times will be on hand to document the festivities. Mayor Dan Sherrell will help greet visitors. Representatives from the Buffalo National River and other local tourism organizations will be in attendance as well. For more information, contact Leesha Miller, Harrison Welcome Center manager, at 870-741-3343.
• Helena-West Helena: The staff of the Arkansas Welcome Center in Helena-West Helena, located on the U.S. Hwy 49 bypass, will be serving refreshments provided by the Helena Advertising & Promotions Commission. The Delta Cultural Caravan will be offering programs and giveaways, and staff from the King Biscuit Blues Festival will be promoting the upcoming 30th anniversary of the festival. For more information, contact Dawna Parker, Helena-West Helena Welcome Center manager, at 870-338-7602.
• Hot Springs: The Visitor Information Center in Hot Springs, located at 629 Central Avenue, will host a drawing every day May 4-8 for free admission to attractions across Hot Springs. The participating attractions include: Hot Springs Mountain Tower, The Gangster Museum of America, Garvan Woodland Gardens, Maxwell Blade’s Theater of Magic, and Mid-America Science Museum. All downtown information booths will include information about the economic impact tourism has on the area. For more information, contact Caitlin Moore at 501-321-2277.
• Lake Village: The Lake Village Welcome Center, located on U.S. Hwy 65-82, will celebrate with several events throughout the week. On May 4, there will be a presentation on the history of the Lakeport Plantation. On May 5, Chicot County Agricultural Extension Service will do a presentation on their offerings. An interpreter from Lake Chicot State Park will be at the center on May 6 with displays. On May 7, the Lake Village Chamber of Commerce and the Guachoya Cultural Arts Center will welcome tourists and provide information. On May 8, the Delta Cultural Center have giveaways and a presentation. For more information, contact Martin Reese, Lake Village Welcome Center manager, at 870-265-5832.
• Little Rock: Travel Rally Day in Little Rock will be on May 5 at Riverfront Park. The event will include the unveiling of an installment that will serve as the community’s latest tourism attraction. The event will be hosted by Gretchen Hall, CEO of the Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau, Richard Davies, executive director of the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism, and Little Rock Vice-Mayor Lance Hines. Little Rock will also host a #WishYouWereHere social media treasure hunt contest throughout the week. For more information, contact Libby Lloyd at 501-376-4781.
• Mammoth Spring: The Mammoth Spring Welcome Center, located on Hwy 63 North, will celebrate Tourism Week on May 9 from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., with free balloons, live bluegrass music, free refreshments, and free museum tours at the 1886 Frisco Depot Museum. There will also be a homemade ice cream vendor on site. Door prizes will be given out and a grand prize will be awarded. For more information, contact Adam Davis, Mammoth Spring Welcome Center manager, at 870-625-7382.
• North Little Rock: The city of North Little Rock will celebrate Tourism Week May 4-8, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily. On these days there will be refreshments, Plinko game for prizes, tourism fact displays and gift basket giveaways at the Visitors Information Center in Burns Park. For more information, contact Stephanie Slagle at 501-758-1424.
• Siloam Springs: The Siloam Springs Welcome Center, located on U.S. Hwy 412, will celebrate all week giving out Little Debbie snacks, Cavender’s Seasoning sample packets, Riceland rice and 18-month pocket calendars. On Friday, they will serve donuts and coffee for the early travelers and hot dogs, BBQ chicken, potato salad, baked beans and bottled water at lunch time. For more information, contact Betty Ross, Siloam Springs Welcome Center manager at 479-524-4445.
• Texarkana: The Texarkana Welcome Center, located on Interstate 30 East, will celebrate National Tourism Week May 5-7. On May 5, there will be a representative from White Oak/Poison Springs State Park and Melody Boys Bluegrass Music presented by the Texarkana Museums System. On May 6, Texarkana Mayor Ruth Penny Bell will present a proclamation, and will greet guests along with representatives from multiple state parks. Visitors can also enjoy antique cars and a sample of Williams Tavern’s famous Earthquake Cake. On May 7, the Genoa High School Band will perform and the Victory Riders will make an appearance. Riceland Foods and Cavender’s Seasoning samples will be given out along with other Arkansas products such as Yarnell’s Ice Cream, Aromatique products and Post Wineries muscadine juice. For more information, contact Melissa Adams, Texarkana Welcome Center manager at 870-772-4301.
• Texarkana: The Red River Welcome Center, located on U.S. Hwy 71 North, will host an event on May 5 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. They will serve free BBQ sandwiches, chips and bottled water. There will be samples from Riceland and Cavender’s as well as Arkansas wrist bands and pine tree seedlings given out. Grand prize drawings will include day passes for Holiday Springs Water Park, breakfast at the Hilton Garden Inn, a stay at the Hampton Inn and two tickets to the Chase Rice concert during Texarkana’s Rail Fest. For more information, contact Sheila Nichols, Red River Welcome Center manager at 870-772-7511.
• Van Buren and Fort Smith: The Arkansas Welcome Center at Van Buren/Fort Smith, located near mile marker 3 on Interstate 40, will celebrate by treating tourists with Arkansas-made products including locally made candies and sample rice bags. In addition, there will be random prize giveaways all week. On May 7, the mayors of Van Buren and Fort Smith will greet visitors and read an official proclamation announcing Tourism Week. Representatives from the Advertising & Promotion Commissions from Van Buren and Fort Smith will present a lucky tourist with a gift basket. On May 8, the interpreter from Lake Fort Smith State Park will be present with information about the unique history and heritage of the area and to present guests with an up-close encounter with live snakes. For more information, contact Kevin Billings, Van Buren/Fort Smith Welcome Center manager, at 479-474-9512.
• West Memphis: The Arkansas Welcome Center, located on I-40 North, will celebrate on May 6 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Local dignitaries have been invited to come out that day and to assist with greeting and assisting tourists. Representatives from the Delta Cultural Center will be on hand for the Tour of the Delta with posters, postcards, souvenirs and door prizes. For more information, contact Calanda Young, West Memphis Welcome Center manager at 870-735-3637.
For general information on Tourism Week, contact Jessica Ledbetter, Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism, at 501-682-1676.