Blytheville is the proud gateway to the Arkansas Delta, only five miles away from the Mississippi River—known here as the Great River. We open the door to the Arkansas Mississippi River Valley, the Great River Road and the tremendously rich history follows the river southward. And we open the door to a level of hospitality that you may never have seen before. Easy comfort, sociability and congeniality are our specialty here in the Blytheville community, and whether you are shopping, moving, or touring, the faces you see will be friendly.
Blytheville combines the comfort of small-town living with easy access to big-city amenities. Only an hour south is the historic city of Memphis, Tennessee. Originally an agricultural community, our area now leads the nation in steel production. The former Eaker Air Force Base, closed in the early ’90s but fast becoming a tourist attraction, is now home to industry as well as sites such as the U.S. Flag Plaza and memorials to fallen aircraft.
The area also is filled with unique treasures. The Arkansas Archeology Survey Station at the Arkansas Aeroplex has recovered artifacts over 800 years old, reflective of the sophisticated pre-Colombian culture that once existed here. Lights of the Delta, a holiday fantasy of lights, brings the Christmas season alive as the largest display of its kind in the entire mid-South. Shopping offers unique boutiques along with your favorite big box retailers—after all, Arkansas is home to Wal-Mart!
We hope this magazine will be a valuable resource for you. You will learn a lot about Blytheville through both pictures and words, and we hope our book will give you a flavor of our city and its gracious people.
Enjoy your connection with Blytheville! If we can help you further, visit our website at greaterblytheville.com, or call at 870-762-2012. Whatever you do, I hope you are touched by the warm spirits and friendliness of our people—they are truly our finest asset!
Liz Smith, Executive Director
Greater Blytheville Area
Chamber of Commerce
The mission of the Greater Blytheville Area Chamber of Commerce, over 350 members strong, is to improve the business environment and enhance quality of life in the area. As such, the Chamber plays an active role in community development and economic restructuring in Blytheville. Working closely with city governments and other key organizations, such as Great River Economic Development Area Foundation and Main Street Blytheville, the Chamber strives to bring the best of all things to the area.
The Blytheville region, which lies in the Mississippi River Delta region of northeast Arkansas has had a tumultuous business history, and it what is a transitional area of the country, much of the work at the Chamber focuses on growth potential. Over 600 people comprise committee rosters and membership rolls in this strong and growing Chamber of Commerce, all of them at work at building business and workforce for the area.
The Chamber that serves the Blytheville area is unusual: While it does provide networking programs, including business after hours events, a monthly luncheon series and an annual banquet that attracts nearly 500 people, it also is the recipient of statewide awards for its programming. Ten years ago, the Chamber initiated “Money for Main,” a grant-making and lending program designed to reestablish the charm and viability of the historic downtown area of Blytheville. Multiple businesses have enhanced their storefronts, while others purchased and renovated buildings to open new businesses. The Chamber received the state award from Main Street Arkansas, as well as a nomination for a national award, for championing downtown.
The Blytheville Chamber also targets education as an important component in improving quality of life and prosperity in the area. The “Bookin’ with the Chamber” program, together with the Chamber commitment to the Dolly Parton Imagination Library (called “Books from Jan,” and set up in memory of a former education committee chair) earned the Arkansas Reading Association’s Celebrate Literacy Agency Award in 2011, despite completion from many other organizations in the state. And it doesn’t stop there. To develop initial funding for these programs, the Chamber partnered with the iconic That Bookstore in Blytheville to produce “Stardust on Blytheville,” an onstage interview program that featured such notables as authors John Grisham, Charlaine Harris and Pat Conroy; actor George Hamilton, and political figures Laura Bush and Condoleezza Rice, and raised over $25,000.
The secret to the success of The Greater Blytheville Area Chamber of Commerce is innovate programming and partnership—the Chamber serves as a hub in its work with community organizations and it also works closely with city governments and enjoys a solid relationship with legislators at the national and state levels.
If you are visiting Blytheville, visit the Chamber — see the beautiful headquarters located right in the heart of town at 300 West Walnut, and learn more about the people who make this mid-South community so special. It’s often said that the Greater Blytheville Area Chamber of Commerce is “where Southern hospitality begins.” In all truth, the phrase may not have originated here, but you will find it to be well perfected art.
The Blytheville area, as part of the Mississippi River delta region of the U.S., has a lush underlying history. Literally. For deep beneath the alluvial delta soil a sophisticated pre-Columbian society has been discovered. Ongoing “digs” at the big site in Gosnell have revealed entire households, complete with pottery and artifacts galore. The region was ideal for such a big settlement, bordering the mighty Mississippi – superb for travel – and bestowing soil rich enough to grow any crop.
The history is significant, because the people of Mississippi County always have used what the land could give them. Prior to the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, Mississippi County had thousands of acres of cypress and hardwood trees. With the huge demand for cheap timberland for rebuilding the Windy City, Blytheville by 1890 was no longer a sleepy, backwoods town, but a rip-roaring mill camp with looking-for-trouble honky-tonks, pool halls, rooming houses, slick businessmen with waxed mustaches and questionable ladies.
After the woodlands were razed, residents looked to that fertile Delta soil for their livelihood, planting cotton and soybeans. Until a quarter-century ago, agriculture reigned supreme in the Blytheville-Gosnell area. With the advent of mechanization farming required less manpower, resulting in significant cuts in the number of farm workers. Many left for jobs in other places. Cotton gins and former industry giants like Chicago Mill diminished in number or disappeared; the area suffered economic decline until the old industries were replaced by the newer industries – particularly steel-related – that now fill the industrial park and river port areas.
Backtracking, the town of Blytheville was founded by the Reverend H.T. Blythe, a Methodist minister who led a rather tumultuous life. Each of his five wives died, and although he died a widower in 1904, he had fathered nine children.
Blythe became a community activist and major landowner, involved in most every aspect of the town, which became known first as Blytheville. During the timber boom of the 1800s, rail transportation became essential, and as the new railway was established, the geographic boundaries changed leaving “old Blytheville” and the new area, Blytheville.
The trees had vanished, but the people of Mississippi County learned again how to be highly prosperous. Farmers were attracted to the soil and land was cheap. As the agricultural economy bloomed, people came and brought churches, schools and merchants. Downtown Blytheville emerged as a solid family community, one that was the center of commerce and activity for the county, and the area remained a world leader in cotton production until the latter 20th century.
In later years, when agriculture production changed so dramatically, the people of the Blytheville area were again called on to find new roads to success. Blytheville’s prime location on the Mississippi River appealed to the steel industry, as did the strong work ethic and physical willingness of farmers who provided a perfect workforce. With the arrival in the late 1980s of Nucor Steel, the area expanded industrially as the nation’s leading steel-producing County.
The heritage of Blytheville area people is not necessarily defined by toil or cotton or new industry. It is also defined in their dedication to community and their determination to become the best at whatever they do. Local organizations such as Main Street Blytheville, the Mississippi County Delta Blues Society and the Ritz Civic Center join with the Greater Blytheville Area Chamber of Commerce and the Great River
Economic Development Area Foundation to play integral roles, not only in the active preservation of landmarks and customs, but also in facilitating an atmosphere of love, pride and progress amongst local residents. Whether these organizations are building hometown pride by renovating storefronts of Main Street, by restoring the historic art deco Greyhound Bus Station, by inspiring awe when listening to a Delta Blues concert, or by steadily increasing job opportunities through industrial and retail recruitment, they are bringing it all back around to the one asset that is both the heritage and the future of Blytheville, Gosnell and Armorel: the people. The great people of this Mississippi Delta community prove themselves today as they have proven themselves throughout the years. They are distinguished. w
With its rank as among the highest of steel producing areas nationwide, Blytheville is bustling with industrial activity. The steel industry arrived on the local scene in the late 1980s, drawn to the area’s centralized location and unique transportation infrastructure, which includes the Mississippi River. Today, the industry is responsible for some 5,000 of the area’s manufacturing jobs, and since steel is produced from scrap metal shipped via the river to local plants, Blytheville is home to the largest recyclers in the world. Nucor Steel owns several mills, led by Nucor-Yamato and Nucor Steel Arkansas.
Just south of Blytheville is the newest steel manufacturer, Big River Steel. Using the most innovative technology in the industry, the variety of steel products produced in the area range from I-beams to steel coils to structural tubing, with product lines continually expanding. It is no surprise that steel has found a home in Blytheville – the industrial area is uniquely situated, with its location just off Interstate 55, a primary U.S. north-to-south roadway, and its ready access to the Mississippi River, an active vein of barge travel. The nearby Arkansas Aeroplex makes the area even more attractive for industrial transportation – its 11,000-foot runway can accommodate aircraft of all sizes. Manufacturers choose the area because of an impressive list of amenities. Most important is the highly strategic location – Blytheville is within 500 miles of 40 percent of U.S. buying power and is at the center point between Canada and Mexico. Its ideal proximity to Memphis (an hour by car) allows residents and businesses to benefit from all that a large city has to offer without having to deal with the daily frustrations of city life. And cities such as St. Louis (200 miles away) and Little Rock (189 miles away) are easily managed day trips.
The steel story is more than just an industrial success story. It is also the story of the rich Arkansas Delta history and the resilience of a people who refuse to be defeated.
The prime location near the Mississippi River and the unusually rich soil it produces resulted in the county’s long-time stock and trade, the cotton industry. Hundreds of workers in the area still are employed in the planting, harvesting, ginning, buying/selling and shipping of one the world’s most essential products, but modern technology – from irrigation systems to state-of-the-art implements – has drastically changed the dynamics of the cotton business in Mississippi County, which remains home to the largest cotton gin in the world, which is located just west of the Blytheville. The strong work ethic of agricultural professionals turned out to be key to steel executives – when they arrived in Blytheville, they found a ready-made workforce of people accustomed to early mornings and unyielding physical labor. Delta farmers with Delta resilience.
Those same principles have carried Blytheville beyond cotton and steel. Other companies are diverse and the products they produce are assorted. From high-end electrical tools, to greeting cards, to automotive components, to margarine products – it is all part of everyday work in Mississippi County. For instance, among the newest to the industrial landscape is Aviation Repair Technologies, one of the nation’s leading aircraft restructuring companies. Taking advantage of the facilities at the Arkansas Aeroplex, developed on the grounds of the former Eaker Air Force Base and including an 11,600 ft. runway, ART repairs any and every part of large aircraft. Malfunctioning coffeemakers, seats in need of reupholstering, jet engines requiring rebuild – none of these are a challenge to ART.
An industry, based on the steel commitment, has spawned unique business. The retail sector, though it has struggled with the economics of the Delta, features leading chains such as a Wal Mart Supercenter and 96,000-square-foot Lowe’s, along with a number of independent businesses and boutiques.
The historic Main Street corridor takes on a charm all its own with its captivating architecture, serpentine street design and abundant flower-filled planters. Apparel, cards and gifts, hand-poured candles, home furnishings, and home décor accessories and unusual antiques are a few of the shopping options. And Main Street was once home to the nationally acclaimed That Bookstore in Blytheville. Packed with 25,000 titles, this landmark, still preserved today, was a frequent stop on book tours, attracting best-selling authors like Sandra Brown, Malcolm Gladwell, Pat Conroy, Mary Higgins Clark, Senator Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton; and it was a regular stop for world-renowned John Grisham.
On the National Historic Registry, downtown Blytheville continues to evolve as property owners preserve history and develop unique merchandising ideas. In fact, entire Blytheville area is filled with an assortment of specialty businesses, as well as familiar chain store establishments.
Progress is important to Blytheville, particularly in an era when rural America is suffering population decline while urban trends are growing. The area’s pro-business attitude starts with government and is further supported by a multitude of organizations that work together to aggressively pursue growth and progress. Two city governments, a county economic development team, and the Chamber of Commerce work to make it easy for business to locate in the Blytheville-Gosnell area and take advantage of the incentives that will lead to greater prosperity. As that commerce develops, both businesses and residents are served by a comprehensive list of professionals. To assist in filling workforce needs, for instance, the community features three leading employment services, each staffed by specialists in industrial and professional placement. Major banks, led by long-established Farmers Bank & Trust and Southern Bancorp, offer up-to-date financial services and lending capabilities and the area is served by a comprehensive list of attorneys, accountants and professional consultants.
With steel as its foundation, the great location, great workforce potential, rich history and one of the lowest overall per capita tax burdens in the entire country – all this makes Blytheville a terrific place to do business, and local people have committed themselves to forging new and lasting partnerships with business and industry. In 2003, the county created an innovative publicly-funded program to create highly competitive incentives for industrial and commercial growth. This program provides funding to incoming industry or expanding existing industry that can be used for almost any tangible aspect of growth, from the purchase of land and buildings to the construction of new infrastructure. This exceptional commitment is the best example of the spirit in the Blytheville area: This truly is a population of residents who are absolutely focused on growth and progress.
One final point – steel or no steel – the charm of small-town living is brings a unique warmth and hospitality to the Blytheville area. While pro-business leadership and plenty of space opens the doors for a variety of industries, professional services and retail businesses alike, and wherever you go, you will find people who know the meaning of success, and where success is always accompanied by a smile and a friendly greeting.
Hampson Archeological Museum State Park
The newly expanded Hampson Archeological Museum State Park tells the story of a historical 15-acre village on the Mississippi River through artifacts and exhibits. The farming-based civilization thrived from about A.D. 1400 to 1650 on what is known as the Nodena site. People grew crops and hunted native game while also creating art and building a political structure and a trading network. The state park museum – which recently expanded to 8,500 square feet, about five times the space of its original location – is on the town square of Wilson, on the corner of US Hwy. 61 and Park Avenue. The staff provides group and private tours. Visitors can also enjoy a nearby picnic area in the state park. The late Dr. James K. Hampson and his family made possible the preservation of the nationally renowned collection of artifacts, which include pottery and tools.
Delta Gateway Museum
The Delta Gateway Museum, which is in the middle of the Blytheville Commercial Historic District, focuses on the heritage of the area, ranging from ancient artifacts to more recent cultural objects. The museum’s first permanent exhibit is about the people who were the original occupants of the Delta during what’s known as the late Mississipean Period and were discovered by Hernando de Soto in 1541. The museum also has put together temporary exhibits on rural life, Eaker Air Force Base, the Arkansas frontier and downtown Blytheville. The museum’s aim is to create future exhibits about the development of agriculture in the area, local industries and transportation. The museum opened in 2011 and is ran by the Delta Gateway Museum Commission. The museum is open 1 to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. Admission is free.
Greyhound Bus Station
One of the most eye-catching sites in Blytheville is the historic Greyhound Bus Station, which was built in 1937 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. The terminal at 109 Fifth St. is considered one of the best examples of the Art Moderne style in Arkansas, based on the style and materials used in the construction of the station. The station is virtually unaltered from its original construction, especially the exterior. Inside the building, there are interesting exhibits about the building’s history and information about tourism sites in the area. The Blytheville Main Street organization also is based in the building, and many city events – such as the weekly Farmers Market – take place nearby throughout the year.
West Main Street Residential Historic District
A seven-block stretch of homes on West Main Street is a delightful mix of architectural styles – including Tudor, American Foursquare, Gothic Revival and Classical Revival – from the first six decades of the 20th Century. The homes are from a major time of growth for Blytheville and earned inclusion into the National Register of Historic Places in 2010. The district stretches from North Sixth Street to Division Street and includes about 50 buildings. Most of the buildings are residential, two-story, wood-frame structures.
Mississippi County Historical Society Museum
A well-preserved dry goods store that operated for much of the 20th Century in downtown Osceola is the site of the Mississippi County Historical Society Museum. The buildings, built in 1902 and 1904, became a museum in 1993 and include many furnishings from the store. There are also many items displayed that were donated by longtime area residents, including art, documents, furniture and historic memorabilia that help show what it was like to live in the area many decades ago. The museum includes a research center, gift shop and coffee shop. The museum is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Ritz Civic Center
On the site of a legendary vaudeville theater from the early 1900s, the Ritz Civic Center currently plays host to a variety of live musical and theater performances and movies. The Arts Council of Mississippi County is also located in the building, and art displays are featured in the Gallery area in the lobby of the theater. Artist receptions are often held at the beginning of a new exhibit. Live performances include national touring musical acts and regional and local theater groups. Classic movies are frequently shown in the theater, which is often featured on national lists of historic and restored
The Great River Road National Scenic Byway
The Blytheville area is along one of the most storied stretches of road in America – the Great River Road National Scenic Byway. Following the Mississippi River for about 3,000 miles from northern Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico, the route goes through ten states and features a variety of attractions in counties and communities along the way. In Arkansas, the area along the Mississippi is known as the Arkansas Delta Byways region and features events and key spots along the route.
Eaker Air Force Base
Activity is ramping up at the former Eaker Air Force Base, which was in operation from 1942 until its closing in 1992. The 3,771-acre base property, which is about 3 miles from Blytheville, includes many businesses in the Arkansas Aeroplex area as well as the Arkansas International Airport, which has one of the longest runways in the state. Other features include Lights of the Delta, considered the largest holiday lighting display in the Mid-South, which contains 6 million lights on a 1.5-mile trail on the property; and in 2018, the East Coast Timing Association held the Arkansas 1-Mile Challenge on the property, which featured racers in sports cars and motorcycles from across the country. Also of note: 247-acres that include the former Strategic Air Command Alert and Weapons Storage Areas were listed in 2018 on the National Register of Historic Places.
Johnny Cash Boyhood Home
The boyhood home of the legendary musical performer, which was added in 2018 to the National Register of Historic Places, was recently restored to reflect the look and feel of when Cash grew up in it. Ray Cash and his family came to the five-room Dyess home in the mid-1930s after they received 20 acres of land through a government program. The home, which is owned by Arkansas State University, includes exhibits about the Dyess colony, lifestyles of area residents and how the area had an effect on Johnny Cash and his musical career. Tours of the home begin at the Dyess Colony Visitors Center, 110 Center Dr., at 9 a.m. with the last tours of the day at 3 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Admission is charged, at various rates.
The Wilson area was once considered one of the world’s largest company towns, covering 57,000 acres and including more than 11,000 employees of the Lee Wilson Company, which boasted the “world’s largest cotton plantation.” The town incorporated in 1950 and cotton-focused parts of this legacy remain, such as a historic cotton gin and continued cotton production. In recent years, the Lawrence Group, which bought the holdings of the Wilson Company in 2010, has made many noticeable changes. Wilson is now known for its renovated Town Square Tudor buildings, including the historic Wilson Cafe; advances in education such as the Delta School, an innovative, independent K-12 institution; the Grange, a community gathering spot and learning location and shopping, including the first location of White’s Mercantile – owned by singer-songwriter Holly Williams – located outside of greater Nashville.
The town of Dyess was created in 1934 as a colony through a government program that aimed to provide tenant farmers with their own land. Named after a local cotton planter and politician William Reynolds Dyess and part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, the colony included about 500 five-room farmhouses for poor Arkansas families, including the parents of music legend Johnny Cash. The project was formally ended in 1951, but the colony has been preserved through restoring several historic buildings that are now open to visitors. The Dyess Colony Visitors Center includes a gift shop and exhibits while the Dyess County Administration Building offers additional exhibits about the colony’s beginnings and the effect that the area had on Johnny Cash. The Cash family home is part of the area tour.
Over 35,000 people annually visit the Mid-South’s largest holiday lighting festival, Lights of the Delta. Six million lights and 48 major motion displays illuminate the 1.5 mile drive surrounded by lakes and trees. Lights of the Delta opens every year on the Monday before Thanksgiving and closes right after Christmas.
What started as a lighting display has expanded into a complete holiday experience that many visitors consider a holiday tradition. Unique displays, hayrides, visits with Santa and photo opportunities are all part of Lights of the Delta.
Jingle Bell Park lies at the half way point of the drive. Visitors can get out, walk around, and grab a cup of hot chocolate and popcorn. There are several photo opportunities and several displays available for a close-up look. The concession stand also features souvenirs, including ornaments depicting many of the displays. A new ornament is added to the collection every year.
Santa visits Jingle Bell Park every Tuesday, Friday and Saturday. The Blytheville High School FFA club sponsors Santa’s Workshop, where children of all ages can a visit with the Jolly Old Elf and get a picture on the spot. Santa’s Workshop and the picture are free to all visitors as a community service by the FFA.
Hayrides are available every night by reservation. Every half hour, two trailers pull out pulled by a tractor. It is the absolute best way to see the lights and, on some nights, the coldest. Each trailer holds up to 20 people and a stop at Jingle Bell Park gives riders a chance to warm up and get refreshments.
But the star of the show is always the Lights. In 2001, Charles “Bo” and Myrna Adams donated 14 displays to Main Street Blytheville. Today, over 48 displays catch the imagination of young and old alike. New displays are added every year, so there’s always something new to see. Many of the displays are unique to our festival, depicting local landmarks and celebrities, including Johnny Cash and John Grisham.
Local sponsors make it possible to keep prices affordable for everyone, with a low entrance fee and half price nights every Tuesday. In 2018, visitors came from all over Arkansas, 37 states and five countries. The Lights have had a positive effect on tourism, since 80 percent of visitors come from outside the Blytheville area.
Light of the Delta. It’s a magical place where memories are made that last a lifetime.
FESTIVALS in Blytheville
Lights of the Delta
Among the many holiday celebrations in the area, The Lights of the Delta is by far the most beautiful. Held at the Arkansas Aeroplex, the mid-South’s spectacular festival of lights is open to the public and attracts more than 20,000 visitors annually. The drive-through holiday wonderland features six million lights including more than 48 major motion displays spread over 40 acres. The historic downtown district in Blytheville also gets its twinkle on with thousands of sparkling lights adorning the shops and streets. For more information, visit www.lightsofthedelta.com
Mayfest is Blytheville’s two-day annual heritage festival. Held on an early weekend in May, the popular event brings thousands of locals and visitors to the downtown streets for live music, arts and crafts vendors, rides, food, fun contests and deep discounts on merchandise in the shops.
Gosnell Cotton Festival
When the leaves begin to turn brilliant colors and there is a crisp coolness in the air, it’s time for the Gosnell Cotton Festival, a fall event that celebrates the importance of cotton as a vital crop in Mississippi County. The family-friendly, two-day celebration brings locals and visitors together for food, crafts, music, hog calling, a dance contest, cakewalk and other fun activities.
Annual Chili Cook-Off
Just in time for fall’s cooler temperatures, the annual Chili Cook-Off brings chili teams from all over the region to share their favorite recipes. Veteran tasters know that for some chili teams, the hotter the better is the motto, while others enjoy stirring in some unique ingredients to give their recipes an edge. The event often features other food competitions, like cornbread, to keep things interesting. When your taste buds can’t take anymore, there are rides, crafts and entertainment to enjoy.
Annual Christmas Parade
One of the most highly anticipated events of the year is the Annual Christmas Parade sponsored by the Greater Blytheville Area Chamber of Commerce. On the first Friday following Thanksgiving, spectators line Main Street to watch local bands, twirlers and colorful floats wind along the downtown route. The floats assembled by local businesses and nonprofit organizations are always quite a spectacle. Sipping a cup of hot chocolate or hot apple cider before or after the event is a tasty tradition.
Farmers Market/Last Saturday
Summer brings a bounty of local produce, and residents and visitors know the farmers market is the best place to stock up on tasty veggies and fruits. The weekly event is held from 8 to 11 a.m. near the historic Greyhound Bus Station. Last Saturday takes place on the last Saturday of the month and features a variety of activities the whole family can enjoy including historic walks, art tours, sales at the Main Street shops, scavenger hunts and more.
Butts on Broadway
A new delight in historic downtown, BOB gives new personality to the traditional Mayfest street festival. It is an all-night affair, cooking of the butts, and the fragrance fills the air for blocks around. Winners are selected but you can bet every butt bite is a good bite–always featuring the iconic pork bar-b-que–a southern delicacy that no one can match.
July in the Park
The beautiful Walker Park is the setting for a great community day each July. Vendors sell their wares. Non-profits tell their stories. Children’s events and a variety of contests give the day an old-fashioned sense of fun. It can get a little warm in July on the Delta–that’s why the pool is nearby and beverages are available all around. Fun for family and friends alike, proceeds benefit local nonprofit agencies.
(870)763-3602 • www.cityofblytheville.com
The Blytheville Sportsplex, located at the Thunder Bayou Recreation Area, is a multi-purpose recreational facility for locals and visitors to enjoy year-round. The Sportsplex consists of ten baseball and softball fields, concession stand, four soccer fields, two large fishing ponds, two pavilions and a walking trail that winds around the entire 50-acre site. This facility is home to many baseball and softball tournaments that attract out of town families into the area regularly. This complex is the hub of recreational activity for the Blytheville community.
(870)763-3602 • www.cityofblytheville.com
The City of Blytheville offers four traditional parks to its residents and visitors. Walker Park is the city’s most-visited park and includes many amenities to enjoy. It comprises a public swimming pool, fishing pond, several picnic areas, six tennis courts, three playground areas, three pavilions, gazebo and a walking path. The park is also home to the Mississippi County Fairgrounds, which regularly brings in events. Whether it’s fishing, walking, swimming or taking in the view, Walker Park has so much to offer to its residents.
Big Lake Wildlife Refuge
(870) 564-2429 • www.fws.gov/biglake
Located just 15 miles west of Blytheville, Big Lake National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1915 to provide a habitat and protection for migrating and wintering birds. It is an important link in the Mississippi migration corridor and has been expanded over the years to include protection for endangered species. More than 225 species of birds, including bald eagles, have been identified within the refuge boundaries. Other wildlife in the area includes otters, beavers, raccoons, wild turkeys, white-tailed deer and bobcats. Mallard Lake is a 300-acre lake within the refuge that is maintained by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. Created in 1967, it is a popular fishing spot and boasts the state record for largemouth bass. The visitor’s center is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Outdoor enthusiasts find plenty of activities in the Delta. Hunting, fishing and golf are popular outdoor pursuits along with neighborhood barbecues, fish fries and ice cream socials.
Blytheville Country Club
Avid golfers have two beautiful courses to choose from in Blytheville. The Blytheville Country Club is a membership facility and hosts two big tournaments, the Calcutta and King Cotton, which bring in golfers from all over the region to enjoy the 18-hole course, clubhouse and pro shop. Open since 2002, Thunder Bayou Golf Links offers residents and visitors a chance to play an 18-hole, par 72 course spanning 7,262 yards. The Clark and Associates-designed course features hybrid Bermuda fairways and links style topography. The course hosts a variety of events and tournaments throughout the year and is a member of the Natural State Golf Trail. For more information, visit thunderbaygolflinks.com.
Thunder Bayou Golf Links
(870)532-2621 • www.thunderbayougolf.com
Thunder Bayou Golf Links has been ranked one of the best public courses in Arkansas. This municipally-owned course features five sets of tees, with yardages ranging from 4,800 to 7,200. Generous rolling fairways are framed by ample strategically placed bunkers. The vast native areas provide for masses of wildlife including bobwhite quail. Arkansas Game and Fish Commission recently partnered with the city on becoming a natural habitat for the quail, in efforts to increase their population in the state. Enjoy a round at Thunder Bayou in Blytheville, the Gateway to the Delta.