Batesville Area Chamber of Commerce and the City of Batesville Announce the Return of White River Wonderland to Riverside Park
November 5, 2021 (Batesville, AR) — Each winter, the light display that earned Batesville recognition as the Christmas Capital of Arkansas™ takes over Riverside Park for locals and visitors to experience a magical holiday season on the White River.
The City of Batesville and the Batesville Area Chamber jointly announced that the White River Wonderland will be opening its 2021 display on Wednesday, November 24, at 5 p.m. The lights display will be on daily from 5 p.m. to midnight. The final chance to see the Lights will be on Sunday, January 2, 2022.
The show features millions of lights and welcomes thousands of visitors each year. Admission to White River Wonderland is free; donations are accepted.
Visitors, again, will have numerous options for viewing the lights.
“You can walk through, or you can drive through the display, or you can catch a horse-drawn carriage, train, or Ferris wheel ride. That’s what makes us different,” said Johnathan Abbott, City of Batesville Landscape Supervisor. “Most of the other displays in the state are either drive-thru or walk-thru, and we are a little bit of everything.”
Watch the show from the warmth of your car as you listen to your favorite Christmas tunes on White River Wonderland’s radio station. The entire display is also walkable, with illuminated sidewalks and walking trails. A fully-lit walking trail leads visitors to the light show from the overflow parking lot at the Batesville Community Center.
Visitors may also take a ride through the display in one of the White River Wonderland’s horse-drawn carriages. Carriage rides will run from November 26 through December 30, except December 25. Carriage rides are $8 per person ages two and up.
The custom-built White River Express will make its return this year. Train rides will run from November 26 through December 30, except December 25. Train rides are $5 per person ages two and up.
This winter, a family favorite, the synthetic-surfaced Ice Skating rink will also return to the Riverside Park amphitheater. The Ice Skating rink will be open from November 26 through January 2, 2022. The rink will be closed on December 24 and 25. Ice skating is $5 for 1 hour; skates provided.
The Batesville Area Chamber of Commerce is bringing back the 70-foot LED Ferris Wheel for a limited time. In its 2020 sell-out debut, over 5,000 riders enjoyed the Ferris Wheel. The Ferris wheel is $5 per rider, regardless of age. The Ferris Wheel will operate from December 10through 18. Tickets for the Ferris Wheel will be available for pre-order online on November 15.
And for the first time, Santa Claus will make the trip to the Christmas Capital of Arkansas™ for the White River Wonderland lights display. Each weekend, visitors will be able to take Selfies with Santa. Visitors will get to spend 3 minutes with Santa for $1.
“We think this year is going to be the best lights display yet,” continued Abbott. “We think families will build life-long memories with a trip to Batesville’s White River Wonderland.”
Learn more about the Christmas Capital of Arkansas™ at whiteriverwonderland.com or on the White River Wonderland Facebook page.
Cathy Drew is a lifelong resident of the region that she loves to promote. As a matter of fact, she was born in downtown Batesville in the late ’60s, which is in one of the eight counties she now enjoys encouraging people to visit.
She has a son, Jonathon (Jon) Drew, his wife Devyn Stewart. Drew is also grandmother to Jon and Devyn’ s son, Jase Drew.
However, Drew can’t skip the other part of her family: the pets! Lady Bird (a stray dog welcomed into their home in June 2012) and of course, Howard – – a puppy compliments of Lady Bird shortly after arriving at the Drew home. They also have Bullet, a stray they adopted in November of 2016.
Drew, became associated with the Ozark Gateway Region in 1990 while working at the ad agency (The Media Market Inc.). The agency handled marketing for the regional association where she along with her co-workers produced an annual tabloid publication. She began work as the director of the Ozark Gateway Region In June 2000.
After Drew became director, she took the region to the next level by helping the tourism organization create a new website and moved it from the old newspaper paper tabloid publication to a color magazine format.
Over the years Drew has helped the organization meet new marketing goals, such as in- and out-of-state marketing, assuring that all 105,000 copies of their magazines are distributed each year.
Drew also helped the region create a heritage trail map that is still on posters in many establishments across the region and Arkansas. She oversaw development of a motorcycle route map that folds into a credit card format for riders, as well as those seeking scenic routes to enjoy the beautiful Ozark Mountains.
She has attended several AARP Shows across the U.S., representing Arkansas. She helped open a visitor center for the Ozark Gateway, allowing visitors to pick up information from across the entire state 24/7.
In 2016, she assisted creating the first Ozark Gateway Region Golf Classic and the tournament continues to grow each year, allowing the organization to grow its co-op program, helping each county have dedicated promotion. Drew stays busy at Ozark Gateway as the ad sales manager, magazine editor, day-to-day office operations, trade show representative, as well as magazine distribution representative all while making sure that the region is represented all over Arkansas and southern Missouri.
Drew has been featured in several local and statewide publications over the years as well as the 1997 cover of the Ozark Gateway Region tabloid along with her then 4-year-old son, Jon. She has received several awards such as the Batesville Rotarian of the Year in 2010 as well as a three-time Paul Harris Fellow.
She also has served as an Independence County election commissioner for several years and now serves as their co-election coordinator, helping with behind-the-scenes management of voting equipment, day-to-day election deadlines as well as poll worker training.
Drew serves on the Arkansas Travel Council Board of Directors, Ozark Foothills Film Fest Board of Directors, Batesville Rotary Club Past President and is the Rotary Clubs current publicity chair.
In March of 2018, Drew was honored with induction into the Arkansas Tourism Hall of Fame for her many years of dedicated service to the tourism industry.