Dog Patch USA was an amusement park in Arkansas which was similar to a park we had in the south bay called Frontier Village, but instead of a Western Theme the park had a hillbilly theme. They licensed the character from the comic strip Lil Abner. I read Lil Abner in the Sunday Paper when was growing up, but I could not understand it as a child. It was not a strip for children, but rather one that commented on social and political problems of poverty in the South. The author Al Capp grew up in Connecticut. I was an appreciator of the cleverly done artwork, but none of the dialogue or plot made sense to me.
Dog Patch is in ruins now. There was company called Heritage USA that had planned to restore it, but they failed and went out of business. They had been leasing the company with an option to buy. The owner who bought it does not have the funding to do anything with it, as just buying it wiped him out. I guess in the future he could sell it for Condos if this was California. In 2014, there was some talk of making Dog Patch into a Nudist Resort, which is now called by the politically correct term a Naturalist Resort. But public out cry was too great against the idea. Sen. Jason Rapert, R-Conway, tweeted that he is opposed to the entire theme park, saying, “This is a very bad decision for Arkansas, and our children will suffer because of it. It is just unnatural to be that naked. See link above for sources.
I have been interested in Dog Patch for years, since I believe I saw a TV special on the park. I never was able to travel to the South due to lack of funding, but now I am planning a trip to see Dog Patch. I may be able to take a few photos. This trip is part of a larger trip, I am taking. (More details when I get back.) There are many very good free articles and blogs about Dog Patch USA, if you are interested in looking for them online. The History of the Park is very long and troubled. I won’t go into the tragedy that happened there because I am not paid by the word to write this blog.
The town changed their name, so they would no longer be known as Dog Patch. The Wikipedia now redirects to avoid offending anyone who lives there. My opinion is the whole Hill Billy theme was not a good idea to begin with, as Lil Abner is not child friendly Comic Strip. As an adult, I can appreciate the black humor and see the irony. Any other theme may have been a better choice for a theme park. I only wish I had been able to travel there when it was still open. I am sure would have loved the park. I was able to go to Children’s Fairyland in Oakland, Santa’s Village, and Frontier Village as child.
It turned on the nudist comment is from a satirical source. I will be in Dog Patch in a few days.
Updated March 2019: I was not able to visit as the weather turned extremely cold in the middle of March and we ended up not driving on scenic highway 7. Instead we took a more boring interstate route. I am really disappointed, but the weather being in the 30s with snow was not amenable to visiting Dog Patch and I don’t know when or if I could afford to go back. I would like to travel around the country in an RV and do a travel blog someday.