Arkansas town capitalizes on its brush with The Beatles

Fri Sep 14, 2012 3:01pm EDT
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By Suzi Parker

LITTLE ROCK, Ark (Reuters) - A farming town in northeastern Arkansas is hoping that an unexpected visit by The Beatles nearly 50 years ago can get its economy rocking again.

This weekend Walnut Ridge hosts Beatles at the Ridge, a festival dedicated to The Beatles' only stop in Arkansas.

It all goes back to a Friday night in 1964, when a plane carrying the Fab Four to a Missouri dude ranch experienced mechanical problems and was forced to land on a World War Two-era airstrip in Walnut Ridge.

The band hitched a ride to Missouri but returned to the Walnut Ridge airport on Sunday morning, when hundreds of fans waited to greet them.

The musicians did not perform in the town, but their visit remains a vivid memory for many longtime residents.

"We are in the business of music now," said Charles Snapp, the festival's organizer. "The Beatles have helped to revitalize this town and given people hope that there's a future here."

Last year's festival drew about 5,000 people, and Snapp said he expects more this year.

The event will feature a Beatles tribute band, Liverpool Legends, vendors selling art and music and the unveiling of Guitar Walk. The path is designed in the shape of an Epiphone Casino guitar that John Lennon played.   Continued...

A still image from the new computer game The Beatles: Rock Band is seen in this handout released to Reuters in London September 9, 2009. REUTERS/MTV GAMES/Harmonix/Handout