Great News For Searcy County!!

cooks charcoal

Cooks BBQ Products opens manufacturing facility in Searcy County, Arkansas

Company to invest $1.4 million, create 45 new jobs

(December 28, 2017) – Cooks BBQ Products, a provider of eco-friendly premium natural coconut, hardwood, lump charcoals, flavored smoking chips, wood chunks, and pellets, today announced it is opening a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Pindall, Arkansas (Searcy County), under the name Ozark Mountain BBQ Products LLC. The company will invest approximately $1.4 million in the facility and create 45 new jobs.

“We’re excited for the opportunity to expand into Arkansas,” said Shawn Elbaz, CEO of Cooks BBQ Products. “Arkansas is the ideal location for us thanks to its central location and abundant natural resources that go into our products.”

Products made at the Arkansas facility will include wood chips, wood chunks, pellets, logs, firewood, and barbecue charcoal. Cooks BBQ Products are sold nationwide under the Coshell brand and private labels in such stores as Publix, Albertsons, and Ace Hardware as well as In addition to its new location in Arkansas, Cooks BBQ Products operates manufacturing facilities in Lake City, South Carolina, and Monterrey, Mexico, as well as distribution centers in Laredo, Texas, and Winchester, Illinois.

“Arkansas has a long history of nurturing small companies,” said AEDC Executive Director Mike Preston. “I am confident that Cooks BBQ Products will find the components it needs to prosper and become part of our state’s growing business momentum.”

Shawn Elbaz, CEO of Cooks BBQ Products, has over 10 years of experience in the barbecue industry. In 2009, Elbaz built a plant in Thailand and came to market with an eco-friendly charcoal made from coconut shells under the brand Coshell Charcoal. As the company grew, Elbaz opened a distribution facility in the Philippines and purchased an existing plant in Mexico, expanding into a full line charcoal manufacturer and adding production lines for the manufacturing of wood chips and wood chunks. With the current climate and focus on manufacturing domestically for “Made in USA” products, the focus of Cooks BBQ Products has shifted to open multiple domestic plant locations to meet a booming demand.

The Greater Searcy County Chamber of Commerce provided valuable assistance to both Cooks BBQ Products and AEDC during the process that resulted in a sizable jobs increase for Searcy County.

The company plans to begin hiring and be fully operational by mid-January. For more information, visit or

New Member – Searcy County Rural Help Center


The Greater Searcy County Chamber of Commerce would like to welcome the Searcy County Rural Help Center as one of its newest members.

The Searcy County Rural Help Center’s mission is to improve the welfare of disadvantaged citizens, on a local scale, by acting as an outreach for Social and Human Services to rural areas of Searcy County.  Our services are designed to help eliminate extensive travel, and assist those who are in need of assistance in form completion, and access to information pertaining to Social and Human Services.

The Center houses a small Library, and Computer Lab that provides access to computer and internet  services, that lessens the physical barriers in communication, and provides access to Adult Education, and fundamental computer classes.  The Library provides an exchange book program, and offers the opportunity to check out books for adults and children.  Our future plans are to provide children’s programs that promote literacy and increase student achievement.

An element also included in the Center is the Thrift Store, where all funds are filtered back into the Center for enhanced programs.

You may contact the Searcy County Rural Help Center at their location, 260 North Church St. in St. Joe, Arkansas, 72675, by phone at 870-439-8300 or by Email.


Hurricane River Cave announces Extreme Cave Tours

Hurricane River Cave

In an exciting announcement, Hurricane River Cave has announced they will be offering two Guided Extreme Cave Tours for 2013.

In addition to their regular cave tour, there are two different Extreme Cave tours offered.

The Deep North, or the East Passage cave tours.

These cave tours can be somewhat customized, to accommodate different fitness levels.
Our extreme cave tours ( by reservation ) feature a combination of the following: vertical climbs; slipping, sliding, stumbling; hands and knees crawls; belly crawls; tight squeezes; contortionist positions; tortuous, irregular terrain; gooey, sticky clay; soupy clutching mud; disconcerting ravine crossings, of indeterminate depths; wadingand or swimming; a short boat ride; bear beds, and numerous bear claw marks; sites where a saber tooth tiger, and many prehistoric, short faced bears, were discovered; and human remains, which are still there, in their final resting place, as of 2013.  The cave entrance is right next to the waterfall: you will walk right by it.Duration: 3-5 hours. Each extreme cave tour, covers about one and a half miles: although you will feel like you’ve done 5.The cost of these cave tours is $89.00 per person, plus state and local taxes: currently at 9 % ( 2013 ). Group rates, and family rates, are available.
For this cave tour, you will be supplied with a Petzl caving helmet, with a headlight, along with knee pads, and gloves. You will be accompanied at all times by a guide, for your safety, and the protection of the cave. Prepare to get extremely muddy on this trip. Lace up boots are best; however, tightly laced up sneakers are also OK. A long sleeved shirt is necessary; a belt is very important to hold up your jeans, as they will loosen up and sag, when they get wet and muddy; and you should wear a swim suit underneath your clothes: so that you can strip off all your muddy clothes, at tour end, before you use our hot showers: for which, we supply towels. We encourage the use of waterproof cameras, and sport cams for photography.
Check out the 5 Star  ratings on on Hurricane river cave from Trip Adviser.Com .


Hurricane River Cave is located in Northwest Searcy County, Arkansas on U.S.  Highway 65, halfway between Harrison and M
arshall (about a half hour drive either way), and about 50 minutes south of Branson, MO

You will be guided along a level ancient underground riverbed. These fantastic water-eroded passageways are the most unique of their kind among American show caves. Our cave features stalactites, stalagmites, flowstone, draperies, soda straws, rimstone dams, cave popcorn, columns, moonmilk, stalactoflats, canopies, along with rare and unique shields, and more!

The Cave’s visitor approval ratings get high marks, according to an official state exit poll. Only the extremely claustrophobic would feel uncomfortable in Hurricane River Cave.

A number of unusual skeletons have been discovered in the cave. Among them are a saber-toothed cat (Smilodan Floridanus); many bears (including the prehistoric Ursus Americanus Amplidens); and, in 1989, a complete Indian skeleton, which is still in its final resting place which you will see on the Extreme Cave Tour.insidecave3

Not only are the caverns spectacular, but so are the grounds. The cave entrance is at the base of a towering bluff and is graced by a much photographed waterfall (specially created for the visitor) that spills between 150 and 300 gallons per minute. This water crashes down through a series of smaller waterfalls and pools. Green manicured lawns, flowering shrubs, flowers and trees complete the scenery.  Especially pretty in the early spring are the native Arkansas red bud and dogwood trees.

The cave is  open from March 1st to October 31st. Winter visits are available by appointment. Guided tours take approximately 45 minutes, and it’s rare that anyone ever waits more than 20 minutes. The distance covered is about ¼ mile and is not strenuous — only one incline and two staircases (17 and 27 steps respectively)


Sheltered picnic tables are also available.

Hurricane River Cave gift shop showcases rocks, minerals, ceramics, full leaded crystal, and jewelry. tables are available. There is ample parking space.

Come and visit Hurricane River Cave.

For more information or to contact Hurricane River Cave, call 870-429-6200, email, or visit the Hurricane River Cave website.


Click on a picture below of a slideshow of photos from the Hurricane River Cave.


Dedication of Historic St. Joe Depot

The official Grand Opening of the Historic Missouri and North Arkansas Railway Depot was held on May 28, 2011 from 9:00 AM till 4:00 PM, in conjunction with the Buffalo River Spring Fling.  Official Dedication of the Depot was at  2:00 PM, with the Honorable Judge Charles Clawson serving as Master of Ceremonies.  Dedication of the Civil War Monument was at 2:30.   Be sure and visit this beautiful piece of restored Missouri and North Arkansas Railroad history.  A 2 year project of Renovation is nearing completion.   The people of St. Joe and all the people of Searcy County should be very proud of what has been accomplished.   The Depot structure itself, which sits on the original site is nearing completion.  The exterior is complete, and the interior is nearing completion.  Some items will be added later, such as the original deck that went around the depot (see the old photo below) , and additional museum items inside

Opened in 1902, the St. Joe Train Depot was a stop on the Missouri and North Arkansas (M & NA) Railway running south from Joplin, MO to Helena, AR. The 365 mile railway cut a path through the Ozark Mountain Region of southern Missouri and northern Arkansas encompassing the natural beauty, vast scenic landscape and mountainous terrain of the area. This smaller connector rail line was a lifeline between the happenings of the big cities, international commerce and the rural country lifestyle by exporting timber, minerals and local goods in exchange for supplies and products from around the United States and beyond. The M & NA was vital to the development of the culture and the economy in every respect. It helped in the creation of colorful lifestyles and history in this region. This rail line paralleled the Buffalo National River for a distance, crossed it as well as other rivers and streams along its journey. Unique vegetation and spectacular cliffs abound along this rail line.

The railway closed for regular service in 1946. It since has served the community as a church, temporary classrooms for the local school and a feed store until it became vacant and fell into disrepair. The City of St. Joe purchased the building in 2009, completed repairs to the structure and has restored it to its original colors. On the National Registry of Historic Buildings since 1991, the property recently acquired a Civil War historic marker for the local area.

The City is currently developing and furnishing the building to be used as a train museum, a local history museum and an information center. Due to limited funds, at this time, the depot is unable to be opened to the public on a regular basis. Located at 110 Highway U.S. 65 South in St. Joe, AR, viewing can be scheduled by calling the City of St. Joe, Mayor John Henley, at 870-439-2012 or Councilman Norman Morrison at 870-439-2369.

See a slide show of more photos of the renovations by clicking on a smaller picture below.

Photo of the Missouri and North Arkansas - St. Joe, Arkansas Railroad Depot nearing completion in 1902











































Buffalo River Spring Fling

Buffalo River Panorama from Roark Bluff

Links to Registration Forms and Information!!!

The First Annual Buffalo River Spring Fling, will be held Memorial Weekend,  Friday thru Sunday, May 27th -29th.  There will be events all over Searcy County that weekend.

Check out the Schedule of Events below for more information.

Food and Fun Festival

Certain Items below have “Hot Links”   — Click on them for More Information

Printable Schedule of Events

Friday, May 27th, 2011

  • Biscuit and Gravy Breakfast  —   7:30AM-11:00AM       Location:  EH Building – Searcy County Fairgrounds      Sponsor:  Operation Kindness-Searcy County Humane Society
  • Hot Dog Lunch — 11:00AM-2:00PM   Location: EH Building – Searcy County Fairgrounds  Sponsor: Operation Kindness – Searcy County Humane Society
  • Craft Fair —  9:00AM-5:00PM     Location:  EH Building – Searcy County Fairgrounds     Sponsor: Buffalo River Artisans Guild
  • Bingo —  6:30PM     Location: Searcy County Civic Center     Sponsor: I.O.O.F.  Aaron Lodge #4     Proceeds Benefit the Veterans Memorial Museum
  • Music at the Killebrew Theater  — “The Tuells” — 7:30PM — Killebrew Theater — Ozark Heritage Arts Center  — Leslie, Arkansas    Proceeds Benefit the Ozark Heritage Arts Center


Saturday, May 28th, 2011

  • 5/10K  Walk and Run — Registration Beginning at 7:00 Am, Run begins at 8:00 AM  Location: Searcy County Civic Center      Sponsor: Greater Searcy County Chamber of Commerce.   Registration Form Hot Link PDF File
  • 24th Annual Hillbilly Daze —  All Day  — Location:  Witts Springs, AR       See   Hot Link For More Information
  • Ozark Mountain Market — 8:00 AM – 12:00 Noon  — Location:  Leslie, AR    Also Fiddling in the Park in Leslie starts at 10:00 AM
  • Barnyard Buddies Petting Zoo and Pony Rides — 9:00 AM- 5:00 PM  — Location:  Searcy County Fairgrounds   Sponsor: Greater Searcy County Chamber of Commerce
  • BB Shooting Gallery —  9:00AM – 5:00PM  — Location: Searcy County Fairgrounds   Sponsor: Boy Scout Troop 150 of Leslie, AR
  • Craft Fair —  9:00AM-7:00PM     Location:  EH Building – Searcy County Fairgrounds     Sponsor: Buffalo River Artisans Guild
  • Morning Star Baptist Youth Group Bake Sale  — 9:00AM-3:00 PM  —  Location:  EH Building – Searcy County Fairgrounds
  • Loafers Glory Community Church Lunch — 11:00AM-3:00PM  — Location: Searcy County Fairgrounds
  • Dog Show — Registration 9:00 AM — Show 9:30 AM     Location:  Searcy County Fairgrounds     Sponsor: Operation Kindness -Searcy County Humane Society
  • 2K  Pet Walk — Begins at 11:00 AM      Location:  Searcy County Fairgrounds    Sponsor: Operation Kindness-Searcy County Humane Society   2K Pet Walk Entry Form
  • Pet Adoption — All Day   Location: Searcy County Fairgrounds  Sponsor: Operation Kindness – Searcy County Humane Society
  • Hillbilly Skeet Shoot — 10:00 AM – 12:00 Noon  —  Location:  Searcy County Rock Quarry (Quarry Road, 5.0 Miles South of the Stoplight in Marshall on Highway 65)  Sponsor:  American Legion Post 131, Leslie   Proceeds Benefit the Veterans Memorial Museum Facebook Link
  • Car/Motorcycle Show —  9:00AM Registration – 2:00PM Judging  — Location:  Courthouse Square, Marshall   —   Sponsor: Marshall Screen Printing    Printable Flyer PDF File Car Show Entry Form
  • 50’s Music on the Square all Day during the Car Show   — Sponsor:  Greater Searcy County Chamber of Commerce
  • Dunking Booth —  Location: Courthouse Square, Marshall   —  Sponsor: Lions Club
  • Gun Show by M &R Gun Shows — 10:00 AM-4:00Pm    Location: Commercial Buiding, Searcy County Fairgrounds   Admission $5.00 per person  —   Sponsor: Searcy County Chamber of Commerce
  • Lions Cooking on the Square —  11:00Am-1:00PM   Location: Marshall Courthouse Square    Sponsor:  Lions Club
  • Spaghetti Dinner — 4:30PM-7:00PM     Location: EH Building, Searcy County Fairgrounds     Sponsor:  Operation Kindness – Searcy County Humane Society
  • Buffalo River Bull Bash —  7:30PM    Location:  Searcy County Fairgrounds Arena    Sponsor: Flintrock Saddle Club and Produced by  Heath Horton Rodeo Co.
  • Music at Ozark Heritage Arts Center — 7:30PM   Featuring  “In Cahoots” — Location: Ozark Heritage Arts Center in Leslie, AR    Sponsor: Searcy County Chamber of Commerce  —    Admission:  $5.00 at the door — All Proceeds Benefit the Ozark Heritage Arts Center

Muscle Car


Sunday, May 29th, 2011

  • Honoring Veterans Memorial Day Service — 10:00 AM-12:00 Noon      Searcy County Civic Center  — Information Hot Link PDF File
  • Potluck Luncheon after the Veterans Service — 12:00 Noon     Searcy County Civic Center  Sponsor: Searcy County Chamber of Commerce
  • Gun Show by M &R Gun Shows — 10:00 AM-4:00Pm    Location: Commercial Building, Searcy County Fairgrounds   — Admission  $5.00 per person  —  Sponsor: Searcy County Chamber of Commerce
  • Gospel Music “The Gospel Trio”   at Ozark Heritage Arts Center —  3:00PM-4:30PM      Location:  Ozark Heritage Arts Center in Leslie, AR
  • Chuck Wagon Gathering — 5:00 PM    Location: Searcy County Fairgrounds Show Barn    Sponsor: Thousand Hills Cowboy Church      Details:  Will include “Dutch Oven Supper”  (Free to the public)  Musical Performance by cowboy musician Sean Burgess, and concluding with message by the Thousand Hills Cowboy Church


Remember, this events schedule is evolving day by day, and we will update this page frequently as the events and the planning details are completed.   This will be a weekend of food and fun for kids of all ages.   Keep checking back for more details.     For more information about any of these Events send us an e-mail.

Headline Photo Courtesy of Paul Caldwell,