Arkansas abandoned theme park owner served foreclosure notice
Bud Pelsor leaves Dogpatch.
He moved to his home state of Indiana where he plans to lead a “16-year-old guitar prodigy” from Oklahoma.
Pelsor, 69, the inventor of a splash-proof dog bowl, came to Arkansas in 2014 to convert the abandoned Dogpatch theme park into an “eco-tourism village.”
But things didn’t work out.
Last month, Pelsor received a foreclosure notice.
A lawsuit has been filed in Newton County Circuit Court against his company, Great American Spillproof Products, the official owner of the 400-acre Dogpatch property. He was behind on lease payments and owed more than $ 922,000 on a $ 1 million promissory note that was supposed to be repaid in August.
“I’ve been successful in everything I’ve done in my life except Dogpatch,” Pelsor said. “It’s the only failure I can put on my books.”
For the past five years, Pelsor has been the driving force behind something – everything that happens at Dogpatch.
Al Capp’s Li’l Abner comic book theme park reached its peak in 1968. It finally closed permanently in 1993.
But it deeply affected many people who visited as children and remember it fondly.
Pelsor, whose family was from the city of the same name in Arkansas, wanted to rekindle some of that excitement. But the backers have fallen.
“I don’t think there is anyone on the planet who would love him more than me,” Pelsor said of Dogpatch. “I’m just not able to get out of it. The stress of this place is killing me. I’ve had success in a lot of ways, but all of those that were supposed to come financially, well, there was just too many talkers. “
Pelsor said he is currently living in a “travel trailer” on the Dogpatch property. He lived in a “cottage” on a property adjacent to Marble Falls, which had a brief history as a ski resort, but he also moved in the midst of foreclosure proceedings.
Great American Spillproof Products purchased the Dogpatch property for $ 2 million in 2014. In addition to the promissory note, the company paid $ 1 million.
Pelsor and his business partner, James Robertson of Newbury Park, Calif., Have been trying to sell Dogpatch for years. The property is listed for $ 1,250,000, up from $ 3 million when it was first listed in 2016.
“Former Dogpatch Historic Theme Park. Over 400 acre Wonderland located on Scenic Byway 7, three miles north of the Buffalo National River and 43 miles south of Branson, Missouri,” reads griffincompanyrealtors. com. “The property has a great year-round spring that feeds a trout farm, two lakes, a flour mill and the famous Marble Falls. … Has enormous potential for a world class themed resort. fishing and nature valley. Lots of water, frontage to the road, buildings and potential. “
But so far there have been no takers.
Pelsor said Robertson was still trying to sell the property.
Asked about it, Robertson replied, “I have no information on Dogpatch. Bud Pelsor is your contact for Dogpatch.”
Pelsor said he would end up bearing all the losses on the sale of the property, whether to a new buyer or on the steps of the Jasper courthouse.
Pelsor had to deal with vandals, arsonists and a sub-tenant who left in the middle of the night after falling behind on his payments.
“It looks like a jungle,” Pelsor said of the overgrown park in August 2018 after the abrupt departure of David Hare, president of Heritage USA Ozarks Resort.
That same month, a Kansas family arrived to relive their 1980s vacation. But the Marble Falls hotel was closed and no one was there.
They spent the night in a hotel in Harrison, 10 miles north. The next day they found Pelsor. He let them enter Dogpatch, where they frolic among the ruins for six hours.
Wearing matching Dogpatch T-shirts featuring Dogpatch family photos from the 1980s, they pieced together old photos and got new photos at favorite sites like Kissing Rocks and Brain Rattler from Earthquake McGoon on a roller coaster ride. .
“I was spanked in the gift shop when I was little, so my sister wanted me to put her back together but I didn’t,” said Misty Smith of Columbus, Kan. “We laughed so much we cried a few times. Could have been a horrible weekend in one of the best weekends we’ve had.”
Such is the hold of Dogpatch on people of a certain age.
Built in 1967 for $ 1.33 million (about $ 10 million in today’s dollars), Dogpatch originally featured a trout farm, buggy and horse rides, an apiary, artifacts Ozark arts and crafts, gift shops and entertainment by Dogpatch characters, according to the Central Arkansas Library System Encyclopedia of Arkansas. Rides were added later.
Dogpatch had around 300,000 visitors in 1968, but never publicly reported more than 200,000 a year after that, according to arkansasroadstories.com.
Capp quit making the Li’l Abner comic in 1977 and died two years later.
Great American Spillproof Products was supposed to pay $ 6,559 per month on the ticket for five years, with a lump sum payment for the entire unpaid amount and accrued interest due Aug. 13, according to the lawsuit. But this lump sum payment, along with several months of rent, has not been paid.
Robertson and his wife, Susan, took out a second mortgage on the property in 2014 in the amount of $ 1.2 million, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit – filed by Stewart Nance; his son, John Pruett Nance; and their lawyer, Gregory Brent Baber – also names as defendant David “Shawn” Smith, who had a lien of $ 2,840 on the property.
The Nances acquired the property in 2011 in lieu of a $ 764,582 judgment against the previous owners, brothers CL and Ford Carr of Missouri, and Michael Carr, a custodian of the property.
The Nances sued the Carrs after Pruett Nance was seriously injured in 2005 while driving an all-terrain vehicle on a road through the abandoned park. Pruett Nance’s windpipe was severed and her neck was broken after riding the ATV through a trap-style cable strung between two trees.
Immediately after the judgment, Stewart Nance said the family had no plans to develop the property and would seek to sell it.
Stewart Nance said several people have recently visited the property.
“Dogpatch brings out dreamers,” he said. “It brings a lot of traffic, dreamers and real ones. Dogpatch evokes passion.”
Pelsor has said his Buddy Bowl patent will expire at the end of the year. The bowl has some sort of tank around the top edge so that if a dog knocks it over, the water stays in the tank.
“Dogs love it because water doesn’t get up their noses. You love it because you have less mess,” according to greatamericanspillproof.com.
Pelsor has said he will miss Dogpatch, but he will have a lot to do in Indiana.
“It’s always painful to leave,” he said.
News from the NW on 12/08/2019