Hardy hopes to build off increased tourism

Hardy hopes to build off increased tourism

HARDY, Ark. (KAIT) - As the weather gets warmer, the city of Hardy prepares for an increase in traffic, as Spring Breakers and those in Region 8 communities head out to the Spring River.

It’s this time of the year that Tim Knoblin, owner of River Wilderness Sports, gets excited about what’s to come.

“We’re hoping to have a really good year this year,” Knoblin said.

Knoblin has owned River Wilderness for the five years it has been in Hardy. He says business has picked up recently, which is a welcome sign after the way last summer started.

“The beginning of last year was kinda tough, because of the COVID thing,” Knoblin said. “A lot of places closed down, a lot of people locked down, then later in the summer, it kind of started opening up a little more.”

As places began to open up, the county saw the benefits. The sales tax revenue in Sharp County was up nearly $300,000 from 2019 to 2020, and up $60,000 in May, June, and July alone.

“Everybody is just really excited,” Ethan Barnes, who was president of the Spring River Area Chamber of Commerce during the pandemic said. “You look at what we just went through, we had a pandemic, a global pandemic, and a small county in Arkansas, in north-central Arkansas is growing, we’re doing well.”

For Knoblin and River Wilderness, they’re already seeing some traffic.

“We opened two weeks ago for spring break and we’ve had several people coming up for spring break,” Knoblin said. “We’re mostly just prepping, getting ready, come mid-May, there’s no time for any of that.”

Knoblin mentioned one thing that will be different this summer is the construction of the new bridge in Hardy.

“Where the new bridge is going to go is half our property,” Knoblin said. “There’s going to be a temporary road put in from the bridge over to the island that’s in the middle of the river, and that’s actually going to put a blockade across there.”

The property is where River Wilderness usually drops off those who rent canoes. He says while it will be an inconvenience, the bridge is needed.

“We’re going to do our best to work with them and do what we can do,” Knoblin said.

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