For nearly 60 years, the Griffin family has owned property along the South Fork of the Spring River just above Hardy. Here the family has raised families, operated businesses, and hosted thousands of tourists to the Hardy area.
Bernard Griffin first traveled through the Hardy area in the 1930’s and was a visitor to the area until 1940 when, following purchasing land which would become his families’ home, he moved to the area. Bernard left a profitable rice farm in Craighead County behind, along with the mosquitoes, and gladly traded them for the rugged beauty of the Ozarks.
A major drawback to the property he purchased was that there was no bridge to cross to get to nearby Hardy. Being resourceful, Bernard built his own bridge across the South Fork. Bernard worked as a land surveyor, served as the Sharp County Surveyor and later served for 14 years on the Sharp County Quorum Court.
Bernard’s wife Essie opened a Merle Norman store on Main Street in Hardy which she operated for 20 years. Bernard and Essie’s oldest son Virgil coached basketball, beginning his career at Cash in 1956. He moved to Weiner the following year where he remained eleven years until moving to Couch High School in Missouri in 1968, eventually settling his family on the Griffin property later that year.
Virgil opened Lazy Acres Riding Stables along the South Fork in the summer of 1962, drawing business from the Meramichee YWCA camp which was just across the river, which is now the Cherokee Village development. Lazy Acres offered trail rides and family camping to a quickly developing Hardy tourist industry.
Virgil employed many locals over the years, but also found a ready-made workforce among his four sons. In 1968, Virgil opened the Ozark Basketball camp which catered to junior high and high school students from across the south. The camp operated for two years. Virgil retired from coaching in 1972 following a near catastrophic accident but has continued to work in many fields. Lazy Acres offered a canoe rental beginning in 1970 which operated for fifteen years. During the past 40 years, Virgil has worked in real estate, been a commercial fisherman in the Florida Keys, opened and operated several area restaurants, and hauled farm-raised catfish.
Lazy Acres Riding Stables has continued to operate in the same location since 1962, introducing thousands to their first horse experience. For a time, the river property was managed by the now defunct Spring River Beach Club, but has since returned to the families’ management. In 2008, the four Griffin brothers formed Griffin Land Properties, LLC, acquiring property and contracting construction of new homes. Realizing the natural beauty along the rambling, scenic highways would be a huge draw for motorcyclists, oldest brother Gregg, a rice farmer in Poinsett County, conceptualized a multipurpose venue named Griffin Park in the Spring of 2011 as a site for special events, concerts and attractions.
Gregg spear-headed a clean-up effort with the aid of his brothers and friends, which included removing old fences, farm equipment, and years of flood debris. With the addition of camp sites, beaches, bath houses, and a stage that is second to none in Northeast Arkansas, Griffin Park has undergone a remarkable transformation in a very short time.
Griffin Park has recently become home to the Zippin Griffin. Arkansas’s Longest, Highest, and Fastest zip line canopy tour. Our brave guests will enjoy flying over the south fork of the spring river at 55 to 60 mph on one of our amazing zips.
Griffin Park is also home of the annual Spring River Rally which hosts over 1200 motorcycle enthusiasts. Rally attendees enjoy several days of bands, camping, bike and non bike related games along the Spring River. Planned future events at Griffin Park include concerts, special events and national attractions. The Griffin family, through Griffin Park, continues a 40-year tradition of attracting visitors and creating jobs in the Spring River area!
Visit http://gogriffinpark.com/ for more information!