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Dogpatch USA is sold for $1.12M; theme park's future goes unrevealed

by Bill Bowden | June 5, 2020 at 7:23 a.m.
Thousands of people visited the former Dogpatch USA theme park property in Newton County in 2014. For many, it was the first time they'd been there since the park was open, which was from 1968 to 1993. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Bill Bowden)

The abandoned Dogpatch USA theme park in northwest Arkansas has been sold for $1.12 million, according to paperwork filed in Newton County Circuit Court in Jasper.

The buyer is Down By the Falls LLC, which was incorporated in Delaware on May 28 but has a Springfield, Mo., residential street address.

Cantrell-Griffin Business Brokers of Springdale announced the sale Wednesday, saying the buyer was unnamed and the sale amount was undisclosed.

"The new owner's plans for the property were not divulged but his representative assured it will be good for Arkansas," according to a short news release that described the property as a "400-acre nature and water wonderland."

Stewart Nance, one of the listing agents, said he couldn't provide more information because of a confidentiality agreement.

"All of us are hopeful the new owner will help restore the area and make it available to the public, but no plans were divulged," Nance said.

Springfield, Mo., is home to the headquarters of Bass Pro Shops. Attempts to reach Johnny Morris, Bass Pro's founder and CEO, were unsuccessful Thursday.

Morris developed Big Cedar Lodge and Dogwood Canyon Nature Park, both of which are in southern Missouri only a few miles from the Arkansas state line.

Jeff Clifton, an agent with Mossy Oak Properties, said he also had the Dogpatch property listed for sale.

"It's closed, sold and funded," Clifton said.

Clifton said the buyer's agent was Booker Cox III of Foggy River Realty in Hollister, Mo.

Both Clifton and Cox also said they couldn't provide additional information because of confidentiality agreements.

Charles "Bud" Pelsor, one of the previous owners of Dogpatch, said the same.

Doing business as Great American Spillproof Products Inc., Pelsor and his business partners -- James and Susan Robertson of Newbury Park, Calif. -- bought the Dogpatch property for $2 million in 2014. Besides a $1 million promissory note, they paid $1 million.

Pelsor envisioned turning Dogpatch into an "ecotourism village," but those plans soon fell through.

Pelsor had been trying to sell the Dogpatch property since 2016, with the asking price dropping from $3 million to $1.25 million.

Nance, who lives in Eureka Springs, his son John Pruett Nance of Rogers and their attorney Gregory Brent Baber of Little Rock held the mortgage on the property.

The mortgage holders filed suit in September against Great American Spillproof Products after it fell behind on lease payments and missed a balloon payment for the total amount due in August.

The Robertsons are listed as defendants in the lawsuit, along with David "Shawn" Smith, who had a $2,840 lien on the property.

The Robertsons took out a second mortgage on the property in 2014 in the amount of $1.2 million, according to the lawsuit.

A decree of foreclosure indicated Great American Spillproof Products owed $1,031,885 on the 400-acre property.

Dogpatch was to be sold on the Newton County Courthouse steps in a foreclosure auction March 3, but then a "solid buyer" surfaced, Nance said in February. The auction was postponed for two months pending contract negotiations.

Nance said he couldn't reveal the buyer's name then either.

Constructed in 1967 for $1.33 million, Dogpatch USA originally featured a trout farm, buggy and horseback rides, an apiary, Ozark arts and crafts, gift shops and entertainment by characters from Al Capp's Li'l Abner comic strip, according to the Central Arkansas Library System's Encyclopedia of Arkansas. Amusement rides were added later.

In 1968, the first full year of operation, the general manager reported that Dogpatch had 300,000 visitors.

Metro on 06/05/2020

Print Headline: Dogpatch USA is sold for $1.12M


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