Rector Youths Featured in Tourism Promotion
Several Rector youths are helping bring visitors and tourism to the state through their roles in an ongoing advertising campaign by the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism. The Rector youth, which include Ellie Ford, Max Ford, Cash Lindsey, Colton Lindsey, Lindsey Ford, Lawson Ford and Kade Scott, have been featured in a number of ads for the ADPT, sharing their smiling young faces in a series of videos and print ads featured on the ADPT website, television, local publications and national publications.
The content of the ads was filmed and photographed during the fall of 2013 at Pumpkin Hollow near St. Francis. Pumpkin Hollow, owned and operated by Darrell and Ellen Dalton, has been a popular local attraction since 1993, with its continued success bringing in visitors from outside areas. The site features a wealth of attractions including three scary spook houses which attract thrillseekers around Halloween each year, a petting zoo, corn mazes and successful pumpkin and gourd farms. The site also serves as an educational tour for many elementary schools throughout the region.
The ADPT ads tie the fall atmosphere of Pumpkin Hollow into other local attractions to illustrate the great potential of northeast Arkansas for welcoming visitors. In one of the department's videos, Ellen Dalton describes how Pumpkin Hollow, Chalk Bluff State Park and the Hemingway-Pfeifer Museum and Education Center each serve to attract visitors to the area, which in turn creates revenue for local businesses.
Another video shot at Pumpkin Hollow follows Ellie Ford and Cash Lindsey as they race through a corn maze, sharing the exuberance and wonder through the eyes of a child.
Joe David Rice, tourism director for the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism, says Clay County was a natural fit for the department's advertising efforts, noting Pumpkin Hollow was an ideal location to feature.
"The small community atmosphere in Clay County and the ideal surroundings of Pumpkin Hollow were exactly what we were looking for with our fall tourism advertising," Rice said. "We relish the opportunity to welcome others to Arkansas, especially to areas like Clay County where the impact can be even more beneficial."
Rice notes travelers to Arkansas spent more than $311 million in 2013. He points out these funds not only generate revenue for the state, counties and cities, but also help decrease the tax load for Arkansas residents. ADPT estimates funds generated in 2013 reduced taxes for a family of four by approximately $400.
As for the young stars of the promotions, they seem to be enjoying their increased exposure. A full-page ad running now in national publications, including the popular St. Louis Magazine, features Ellie and Cash in the foreground and Max, Colton, Lawson and Kade in the background surrounded by hundreds of harvested pumpkins at Pumpkin Hollow.
"I was just really excited," Ellie said after having seen the promotions. "I was like, 'Oh my gosh, I get to be in a magazine and everybody gets to see me!'"
The children have received positive reviews from classmates and teachers at school and several members of the community have sought copies to serve as keepsakes.
"I had kind of forgotten about it (from the year before) until it came out," Max said. "It's kind of cool to be able to see yourself in something like that."
For their participation, the kids received $50 each for taking part in the promotion. They also know their work is part of an effort to support their state and community, something the thoughtful youths say they are most proud to do.
"I was so happy to see myself in the magazine, but what makes it even more special is we're sharing what we have here with people from other places," Ellie said. "It's exciting!"
The ads are currently being circulated in-state and nationally. Also, videos from the promotion may be viewed at www.arkansas.com