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Ozark Gateway banquet honors Cave City Watermelon Fest, Dozier, Folk Fest, White River Now, and more

JACKSONPORT — This year’s Ozark Gateway Leo Rainey Tourism Appreciation Banquet was held on Thursday at the Jacksonport State Park visitor center, recognizing citizens, organizations and businesses that have made an impact on the Ozark Gateway Region.

Featured speaker was Mat Faulkner, president of Think Idea Studio of Searcy. Faulkner is involved in the rejuvenation of downtown Searcy and is part of the team that recently helped the town win the Small Business Revolution contest.

Partners in Tourism recognized were Citizens Bank, First Community Bank, Areawide Media, FutureFuel Chemical Company and North Arkansas Electric Cooperative.

President’s award recipients were citizens Danny Dozier and Bob Carius. “With the topic of placemaking and the nearing completion of another phase of Maxfield Park, it only seemed fitting that this year’s award to go to individuals who are leading the way in creating momentum and excitement for Main Street Batesville with their placemaking efforts,” said Cathy Drew, director at Ozark Tourism.

“You can’t help be inspired by Danny’s vision of recreating and repurposing a grown-up piece of unused land into the beautiful space that Maxfield Park has become with the help of dedicated volunteers like Bob. We hope that everyone who attended this year’s banquet left inspired and with plans to do some placemaking in the place they call home,” said Crystal Crow, Ozark Gateway president. “It was really an honor to be able to surprise Danny and Bob with these awards.”

Meanwhile, the Cave City Watermelon Festival was recognized as Festival of the Year. Celebrating the 40th annual event this year, the Cave City Watermelon Festival has continued to grow and thrive, easily bringing 12,000-15,000 people to the small town of Cave City (pop. 1,904) each year.

Member of the Year 2019 is the Ozark Folk Center (OFC). The OFC brings thousands to the region each year and works very hard to keep weekend events and activities that attract people from all over the USA.

Receiving this year’s Tom Biggs Award was Dr. Patti Mullins of Newport for her hard work helping the promotion of tourism in the region and the Wilson Powell Media Award went to White River Now for their dedication to promotion of the area.

“Always the membership leader among the 12 regional associations, the Gateway boasted more than 300 members during the late 1970s. This was due mostly to the late Tom Biggs (1897-1984), a Sharp County native who retired in Batesville,” Drew said. “Tom always sold over 100 memberships in Independence County, and then traveled to other counties to help with their sales.” The Gateway honors his memory with the annual “Tom Biggs Award” for outstanding service to tourism.

The Wilson Powell Media Award was given to White River Now for their support and promoting of the local tourism industry. Wilson Powell (1914-2003) was the first secretary/treasurer of the Gateway Board and held the position for more than 25 years. “Wilson was the business manager and staff newsman for the Batesville Guard, writing most of the Gateway features promoting the region. The annual Media Award recognizes contributions to area tourism through public media.

For more information about the Ozark Gateway Region visit or call 1-800-264-0316.

Ozark Gateway award presentation.jpeg

Wilson Powell Media Support Award : White River Now. Pictured, from left to right: Adam Davis, Crystal Crow, Stacy Fields, Georgena Ries, Cathy Drew, & Chad Whiteaker

Dozier Ozark Gateway.jpeg

Presidents awards: Danny Dozier. Pictured, from left to right: Danny Dozier, Crystal Crow, Adam Davis & Cathy Drew

CCWF Ozark Gateway.jpeg

Festival of the Year: Cave City Watermelon Festival. Pictured, from left to right: Andrea Smith, Jonathan Fowler, Hana Smith, Julie Johnson, Tyler Parsley, Crystal Crow, Cathy Drew

OFC Ozark Gateway.jpeg

Member of the Year: Ozark Folk Center. Pictured, from left to right: Keith Symanowitz, John Morrow, Cathy Drew & Adam Davis

Dr. Patti Mullins Ozark Gateway.jpeg
Tom Biggs Winner — Dr. Patti Mullins. Pictured, from left to right: Adam Davis, Crystal Crow, Dr. Patti Mullins, Cathy Drew, Ward Massey

Wilson Powell Media Support Award for White River Now 2019

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