Walnut Ridge, Arkansas is a small town located in northeastern Arkansas. This little town has a really original story in the history of The Beatles and American Beatlemania. On September 18, 1964, the Walnut Ridge airport was used as a refueling stop for the Beatles’ plane, and George Harrison, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and Ringo Starr were spotted by avid fans. Word spread fast among young Beatles fans in town, and when the plane returned for a refueling stop in the other direction, many fans were there to greet the Fab Four. The Beatles stepped to sign autographs, and take photos with fans. Even though they didn’t actually play a show here, it’s a special stop on the Beatles’ first tour of the United States in 1964.
At the time, Beatlemania was at its height. The American concert tour included thirty-two packed shows in just thirty-four days, but didn’t have any stops in Arkansas. The Beatles were surrounded by fans wherever they went, and this refueling stop at the airport was no exception. There’s a truly charming story of the teenage president of the Beatles fan club at Walnut Ridge high school getting to meet the Beatles. You don't even have to be a Beatles fan to imagine the excitement of your favorite band happening to stop by your hometown.
Decades later, that quick refueling stop is remembered and celebrated by public art and historical displays in Walnut Ridge. A Beatles Park was established in Walnut Ridge, and you can visit today. The park features a statue of the four band members, as well as a story explaining their visit to the city, including photos of the famous band snapped by a local on his Brownie camera. The park is a unique destination for Beatles fans, and has some fun photo ops for visitors. Down the street is an Abbey Road sign and a yellow submarine.
Additionally, Walnut Ridge now hosts an annual Beatles festival at the Ridge Festival, which celebrates the band's music and legacy. The festival features live music, food vendors, and a variety of other activities for Beatles fans and music lovers in general.
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