Osceola, Arkansas aims to become tourist destination

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OSCEOLA, Ark. — Osceola, Arkansas, a small town with less than 7,000 people, wants to become a tourist destination centered on music.

"We've got some good music heritage," Mayor Sally Wilson said.

The town wants to highlight that heritage by creating new attractions dedicated to music legends connected to Osceola — for example, Johnny Cash or renowned guitarist Reggie Young, who grew up there.

"And as you come into town, you'll see one venue after another that's fun and makes you want to get out and spend some money and spend some time," Wilson said.

She hopes visitors will spend some time at sites like a new concert hall currently being built in the old Coston Building. There are other ideas in the works, too, like a new skating rink, boutique hotel and movie theater.

"Any amount of people that are coming into a community are obviously going to be helpful to restaurants, retail, hotels, gas stations, things like that," said Ammi Tucker, with the Osceola South Mississippi County Chamber of Commerce.

Thanks to grant money, some of the projects have already been funded. Town officials are confident the other ideas will get funded, too, once the details are worked out. Arkansas State University is helping the town create a blueprint of the master plan.

"It'll take us a couple years to get everything in place but it's going to be great," Wilson said.

Robert Zenanko is looking forward to it. He runs an antique and coffee shop next to the Coston Building, where that concert venue is set to open in the spring.

"Fantastic. We're looking forward to an increase in (foot) traffic," he said.

"Small town, big potential," Wilson said.

Wilson knows the potential for Osceola to be a post to highlight on the map.

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