Park Celebrates ‘Ghosts, Legends, and the Unexplained’

by Marie Mitchell
Delta Digital News Service

GREENE COUNTY – While on a hunting trip, a man only identified as Mr. Hamilton and an acquaintance observed a drove of cattle in a state of alarm. As the cattle fled past, they also became alarmed at the sight of an animal that unmistakably resembled a giant human presence. Hamilton claimed the hairy creature resembled a “wildman,” which ran with great speed leaping 12-to-14 feet at a time. His foot prints measured around 13 inches each.

Farmers and ranchers in the Crowley’s Ridge area witnessed this creature from time-to-time, but did not come forth with any information until Hamilton’s story appeared in a Memphis newspaper on May 9, 1851. That “wildman” sighting marked the first actual “Bigfoot” sighting reported and documented east of the Rockies, according to Elizabeth Kimble, park interpreter for Crowley’s Ridge State Park.

Those hoping to catch a glimpse of the “wildman” can attend a haunted hayride on Friday, Oct. 28. This hayride has become a popular event over the past two years, Kimble said.

“What started out as a hundred or so visitors in the past few years, turned into around 1,000 guests last year,” she said. “This year we have extended the hayride even farther into the woods to possibly get a sight of a zombie or two and other ghostly visitors from the past.”

The park’s Halloween event — “Ghosts, Legends, and the Unexplained” — also features carnival-style games, a zombie photo booth, coloring contest, and a stroller and handicapped-accessible path on Lake Ponder Trail filled with free candy donated by local businesses. Kimble encouraged attendees to bring a flashlight and a bag for candy to share. The night will also feature costume contests.

Ages 2-4: Contest begins at 6:30 p.m. with registration opening at 6:15 p.m.
Ages 5-8: Contest begins at 7 p.m. with registration opening at 6:30 p.m.
Ages 9-12: Contest begins at 7:30 p.m. with registration opening at 7 p.m.
Ages 13-17: Contest begins at 8 p.m. with registration opening at 7:30 p.m.
Ages 18 and up: Contest begins at 8:30 p.m. with registration opening at 8 p.m.

Addie, pet of Erica Olney, was among winners of 2015's pet photo contests.

Addie, pet of Erica Olney, was among winners of 2015’s pet photo contests. (Photo courtesy of Crowley’s Ridge State Park)

All costumes must be age-appropriate; trophies and prizes will be awarded to first-, second- and third-place winners in each category. Winners will also be announced from a pet contest in which contestants submit photos of their pets dressed in costumes.

Nashville recording artist and Northeast Arkansas native Lauren Richmond will provide live entertainment to add to the excitement, Kimble said. Richmond will take the stage around 7 p.m. and perform until 9.

The haunted hayride costs $4 for ages 13 and up, and $2 for ages 4-12 at this cash-only event; those 3 and under ride for free. Although checks and credit cards will not be accepted, concessions and souvenirs will be available for purchase at the CCC Pavilion. Ticket sales for the zombie booth and haunted hayride will end at 8:30 p.m.

For more information, to donate or to volunteer for the event, please call the visitor center at (870) 573-6751. Located on Highway 168 N in Walcott, reach Crowley’s Ridge State Park by traveling west on Highway 412 from Paragould, or traveling north on Highway 141 from Jonesboro.