Rock ‘n’ Roll Highway 67 Museum Founder and Depot Days Director honored with Tom Biggs Tourism Award

Photo courtesy of Tony McGuffey, Batesville Guard

Henry Boyce of Newport was recognized for his work promoting and organizing  the annual Depot Days Festival and for the creation of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Highway 67 Museum all in downtown Newport with  the Tom Biggs Tourism Award at the Ozark Gateway Region Annual meeting.
Depot Days is a 20 year-old heritage festival dedicated to the preservation of the early history of rock ‘n’ roll in Northeast Arkansas and particularly Jackson County.  Early Sun recording artists such as Sonny Burgess and Billy Lee Riley hailed from this area and were featured artists at the festival for many years.  Dozens of news stories, documentaries and books have been written about the nightclubs juke joints and honky tonks which lined old Highway 67 through Jackson County in the 1950’s and 60’s when rock ‘n’ roll was in its infancy.  The entire Sun records stable from the 1950’s including Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash and others frequently played the highway when their careers were just getting started.
A significant aspect of the festival is the Rock ‘n Roll Highway 67 Museum, which is open year round at 201 Hazel Street in Newport and was inspired by the official statewide recognition of the highway as a tourist destination in 2009 by legislation signed by then Governor Mike Beebe.  The museum features 60 year-old musical instruments, vintage posters, signage, and rare photographs taken inside the clubs capturing the raucous atmosphere the music created and preserves forever the youthful vigor inspired by rock ‘n’ roll.  The museum also explores elements of the influence early Arkansas musicians had on later rock icons such as Bob Dylan, Led Zepplin, and Bruce Springsteen.
Depot Days Festival
Henry H. Boyce, Chairman
208 Main Street, Suite 31
Newport,  AR   72112
Home of “Rock ‘n’  Roll Highway  67”
(870) 523-7428 office    (870) 523-7433 fax
A free music festival held each fall on historic  Front Street ,  Newport ,  Arkansas
Dedicated to the early history of rock and roll!


Ginger Smith joined OGTC in 2014 as a volunteer, and has lived in this area since 1972 when she moved to be near her parents, the late Doss and Vivian Burgess. Her late father was Independence County Appraiser and any time family, whether kids or grand kids, came to visit for even a short time, he would take them to A.D. Hill’s grocery store, and get them a soda pop and candy bar, see the talking bird there, and end up “checking out the great White River.” All the kids and grands have played on the banks there, picnicked, and played on the old train. Ginger is adamant, since she moved to Batesville, there is just no other place to raise a family. Her love for the area and desire to help promote it in her professional capacity led her to seek volunteering, and Charlie Morris, whom she met when she was a typesetter at the Daily Guard Newspaper, put her in touch with Cathy Drew, Executor Director of OGTC. She has been on board since then and says she has loved everything she has done and is proud to represent North Central Arkansas.
The last 20 years of her employment she worked for the late County Judge David Wyatt, West Elementary School Principal Jerry Harris, and Circuit Clerk Claudia Nobles and Judge John Kemp. At the Guard Office she says she made friends for a life time, and then the West Elementary teachers, students, and their families grew close to her forever. Her last job she was hired in a newly created position to collect felony fines and restitution. She was so proud that after three years she more than tripled the annual revenues that she retired! Her part-time retirement job was with the ortho docs, Drs. Allen and Angel where she also met many people from all over the area, and made another set of new friends! She is a published writer and has also written feature articles for the Batesville Guard TV Guide and the Arkansas Democrat Gazette.
She has a daughter, Misty Long Sparks, son-in-law Dloyd Sparks, and three grands, Dalton Lee, Victoria Lynn and Anna Rose, who own her heart, and three more heartbeat grands, Nico and Corbin of Washington, and a late granddaughter, Ginger Savannah. Her late husband, Ken Smith, was the Batesville Postmaster.
Totally retired now, Ginger offers her time and writing abilities to OGTC as she travels around the state and visits with so many nice folks, writes reviews, and tries to be a worthy representative for Ozark Gateway Tourism. She is a people person who really cares for all God has blessed us with in our beautiful state of Arkansas in the United States of America.