The man who came to Arkansas in 2014 to convert the abandoned Dogpatch theme park into an “ecotourism village” is leaving.
The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports 69-year-old Bud Pelsor is moving to his home state of Indiana, where he plans to manage a “16-year-old guitar prodigy” from Oklahoma.
The plans Pelsor had to renew Dogpatch didn’t work out. Last month, he was served with a foreclosure notice.
A lawsuit was filed in Newton County Circuit Court against his company, Great American Spillproof Products, the official owner of the 400-acre Dogpatch property. Pelsor is the inventor of a spill-proof dog bowl. His comapny was behind on the lease payments and owed more than $922,000 on a $1 million promissory note supposed to be paid off in August.
Pelsor says he had been a success at everything he had done in his life except Dogpatch. He says, “This is the only failure that I can put on my books.”
For the past five years, Pelsor has been the driving force behind something — anything — happening at Dogpatch.
The theme park based on Al Capp’s Li’l Abner comic strip had its hillbilly heyday in 1968. It finally closed for good in 1993.
But it profoundly affected many people who visited there as children and remember it fondly.
Pelsor, whose family hailed from the Arkansas town of the same name, wanted to rekindle some of that excitement. But backers fell away.
He says he’s living for the time being in a “travel trailer” on the Dogpatch property. He had been living in a “chalet” on adjacent property in Marble Falls, which had a brief history as a ski resort, but he moved out amidst foreclosure proceedings there, as well.
Great American Spillproof Products bought the Dogpatch property for $2 million in 2014. Besides 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 sale for $1,250,000 — down from $3 million when it was first posted for sale in 2016.
But so far, there have been no takers.
Constructed in 1967 for $1.33 million (about $10 million in today’s dollars), Dogpatch originally featured a trout farm, buggy and horseback rides, an apiary, Ozark arts and crafts, gift shops and entertainment by Dogpatch characters, according to the Central Arkansas Library System’s Encyclopedia of Arkansas. Amusement rides were added later.