Beatles statue to go up at Arkansas airport

By Brandi Hodges - bio | email

WALNUT RIDGE, AR (KAIT) – Back in the 50's and 60's rock and roll legends like Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis performed at juke joints all along Highway 67.  In 2009, to honor the route and boost tourism, state lawmakers designated it the "Rock and Roll Highway."  Thursday it was announced the road was getting a new addition.

In 1964, a plane carrying the Beatles touched down in Walnut Ridge.  It was the first and only time the lads from Liverpool ever came to Arkansas.  Now Lawrence County wants to commemorate that visit with art.

Many rock and roll legends got their start in spots along Highway 67.

"It's just another tourism aspect that we have.  It is part of nostalgia it's part of history," said Bill Carroll.

The Rock and Roll Highway runs from Jackson County to the Missouri state line and each county along the path is doing something to pay tribute to the past.

"If you've ever seen Billy Lee Riley get down at 80-years-old then you understand why they get so excited there's no music like that," said Linda Collins-Smith.

On Thursday the Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce uncrated a replica of what will be a life size re-creation of the Beatles who made a stop in Walnut Ridge 46 years ago.

"I was less than three feet away from Paul McCartney," said Carrie Mae Snapp who was there when the Beatles boarded the plane.  "We would meet on Saturday nights and play their records and listen to them and talk about the songs."

"The Beatles were the exciting thing that started a lot of the things in the 1960's so I think because of that people are going to look back on things that we're going on at that time and they all relate to the music," said Snapp.

Harry Trumann Moore was a writer for the Times Dispatch and was the only reporter who covered what he calls the "British invasion of the Rock and Roll Highway".

This weekend some visitors plan to drive along Highway 67, that way they can take the same path many legends of rock and roll have taken.

"When we see those people come we know we've hit on something and we know it's going to bring great revenue to the state of Arkansas," said Collins-Smith.

This statue is just one of the things planned for Lawrence County.  Many hope establishing it out at the airport will attract visitors to take a trip down memory lane on the Rock and Roll Highway.

"I think they'll be people who will go to the Walnut Ridge Airport just to have the chance to walk across Abby Road with the Beatles," said Moore.

Friday, October 1

6pm: 50's Karaoke Contest, Clogging by Marilyn's Clogging Company.
7pm: "You Ain't Nothing But a Hound Dog" Contest which is pets in 50's costumes
8pm: Sock Hop
9pm: Haunted Pocahontas Tour

Saturday, October 2

9 am Car Cruise from the Missouri Line to Pocahontas along US Hwy 67
10 am Vintage Car Show
11am On stage during the day
50s Karaoke contest Finals   
12 Noon until 5 pm Guided Bus tours of Historic Venues along Rock and Roll Hwy 67
12 Noon Clogging by Marilyn's Clogging Company     

General Admission for all day $15, ages 11-18 $10, under age 10 Free.  Tickets will be available at the gate.  For more information: call the Randolph County Tourism Association at (870) 892-0254.

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