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Statewide Events 0

Experience the 2024 Total Eclipse in Arkansas

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On April 8, 2024, a total solar eclipse will diagonally pass across North America, with two-thirds of Arkansas along the path of totality and 94% of the state in the swath of coverage. This may be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many since the last total solar eclipse was in 1979, and another will not appear until 2045. Arkansas will be a prime viewing spot and draw scientists, researchers, photographers, stargazers and eclipse travelers. Arkansas Tourism Leadership is busy preparing for what is to come.

Photo used with permission from Arkansas Tourism

After hosting several online sessions and idea-making spaces for local tourism leaders, Brook Kaufman, a partner from VisitCasper, recently came to Arkansas for a whirlwind tour, meeting with event planners and community leaders in large and small towns across the state. Her general advice was the same in every place:

  • The people are coming, whether you plan for them or not.
  • Making a plan now will reduce issues later.
  • Become the destination where everyone wants to land because you are already communicating what you are doing.
  • This kind of thing costs money, so your town needs support from community leaders and private funders.
  • Assign the task to someone who can focus on planning and being the contact as questions arise.

Kim Williams, the Arkansas Tourism eclipse events coordinator, shared more information for those curious about the 2024 eclipse.

Why is this such a big topic for Arkansas? Is Arkansas the center of the eclipse?

Arkansas is “third in line” for start time during the 2024 Great North American Eclipse, after Mexico and Texas. With a central location, The Natural State allows eclipse visitors more access to the path of totality, especially our neighboring states that will not be in the path. Arkansas will have viewing times up to four minutes and 20 seconds depending on where someone is viewing, including natural areas away from large cities, not to mention all the lakes, rivers, and streams within the path of totality.

Of course, there will be scientists and photographers who want to see and record this incredible event. We anticipate Arkansas will draw local, regional and national media.

What could this mean for Arkansas Tourism?

It could mean a lot of visitors! In 2017, those states within the path of totality reported historical economic impacts from the eclipse. So, we’re hoping that it will be a historic economic event for Arkansas. Also, it gives us the chance to “introduce” The Natural State to visitors who may have never spent time here. And to show them such a wonderful time that they’ll want to come back and experience more of what the state has to offer.

2024 Total Eclipse in Arkansas
Photo used with permission from Arkansas Tourism

Where will be the best place to be in the state? Any ideal viewing spots?

The ideal spot is anywhere within the path of totality. But there are things to remember. First, you need an area that doesn’t have a lot of trees or buildings to obscure your view of the sun. I think it would be amazing to be out in the middle of one of our beautiful lakes or rivers.

2024 Total Eclipse in Arkansas

Is there a general Arkansas theme for eclipse festivities, or are you pointing to local communities to do their own thing?

Our overall theme is “We put the AR in solar eclipse.” We want to work with communities to help promote their events; we’re not trying to tell them what they should do. Our focus is to present a common theme in Arkansas during the eclipse, work with communities to help with overall promotion and offer “one-stop shopping” for residents and potential visitors on Arkansas.com/eclipse.

What plans are already in place?

Arkansas Tourism has begun meeting with other state agencies that will be directly involved with the eclipse. In addition, we plan to have a communications strategy for our communities or attractions that want or need help with media and promotion. Finally, we will continue to have community meetings with any towns within the path of totality that would like our support. I’ve been blown away by some communities already planning great festival ideas, special events, and even specialized souvenirs and memorabilia.

Right now, communities should be planning.

  • Put a community task force together.
  • Make sure hotels, motels and campsites/RV parks know that we have this event coming.
  • Start thinking of ideas that will encourage visitors to come early and stay late – give them reasons to NOT leave on the afternoon of the eclipse.

Who does this affect in a local community?

Local communities throughout the state will be affected directly and indirectly. Let’s say a community isn’t in the path, but they’re adjacent to it. People will come to your town because they’ll need lodging (hotels and even campsites), food and gas. If you’re a community within the path, everyone will be affected. Local grocery stores, gas stations, restaurants, hotels and motels, RV sites…your community may easily double its population in the days leading up to April 8, 2024.

Make sure everyone in your communities knows that the eclipse is coming and prepare – extra food, water, gasoline, anything a visitor would need. Include your events on Arkansas.com – it’s free. If communities have a website, start advertising the eclipse now. People are already reaching out to communities within the path to try and make lodging reservations.

And, start ordering ISO-certified glasses now. No part of Arkansas will not have a 94% or above partial eclipse. That means if you’re going outside during the beginning of the eclipse, you’ll need ISO-certified eclipse glasses.

Photo used with permission from Arkansas Tourism

Gather information and educate yourself for what is to come!

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Keisha (Pittman) McKinney lives in South Arkansas with her husband and sweet Boxer, Bailey and one-year-old son! Keisha is passionate about connecting people and building community, seeking solutions to the everyday big and small things, and encouraging others through the mundane, hard, and typical that life often brings. She put her communications background to work as a former Non-profit Executive Director, college recruiter and fundraiser, and Digital Media Director at a large church in Northwest Arkansas. Now she is using all of those experiences through McKinney Media Solutions and her blog @bigpittstop which includes daily adventures, cooking escapades, #bigsisterchats, the social justice cases on her heart, and all that she is learning as a #boymom!

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