Osceola looks to tap into blues roots to bring in tourism

Osceola looks to tap into blues roots to bring in tourism

OSCEOLA, Ark. (KAIT) - When people think of tourist destinations in Arkansas, people think of places like Hot Springs, Hardy, and Little Rock, but Osceola is working to be a part of that list.

The blues runs deep in the town, something you can tell by markers downtown, so the city thought, “What best way to bring people to town than by music?”

“We’ve got this wonderful music heritage in Osceola and this is sort of like a perfect way to put it all together,” Mayor Sally Wilson said.

There are several empty buildings in downtown, but the city is working to change that.

“The music heritage tourism initiative began with the thought that we wanted to bring tourists to town as well as develop some retail, as a way to jump-start some retail in town,” Wilson said.

The city reached out to Arkansas State University for some help.

“We reached out to ASU, the Delta Center at ASU, and asked them if they would create a strategic plan that will put an emphasis on our music heritage tourism,” Wilson said.

That plan is what helped spur the Music Heritage Tourism Committee which met on Tuesday night. It was the third meeting where members bounced ideas off of each other and started discussing ways to implement the strategic plan.

“The fun part is getting to carry some of these ideas out, and we’re focusing on the ones that are going to be most beneficial to this community,” Wilson said.

Felix Johnson is a part of the younger generation and attended the committee meeting. He hopes this initiative brings things for younger people to town.

“I will love to see flourish building and something for the children,” Johnson said. “Because people said all the time that children are our future but they really are the future.”

While the blues is a major part of the history of the city, he hopes to bring a voice to the table that looks at other genres, especially for the younger generation.

“I feel like for us to really be a music heritage-based town, I feel like it’s best if we can showcase all the different types of music that we can bring,” Johnson said.

That is something Mayor Wilson hopes the city can build.

“It’s all about the music. Whether it’s the folk music or it could be country music, blues, gospel, this is our heritage here and this is what we can build on,” Wilson said.

Mayor Wilson hopes the music heritage tourism industry will be based in the Coston Building in downtown.

It is a build the city has been renovating that will also serve as their fine arts center.

Mayor Wilson hopes more people become involved in the music heritage tourism initiative and if you would like to take part, call the Osceola/South Mississippi County Chamber of Commerce or call the mayor.

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