Woolly Hollow State Park was named the Region Two Park of the Year for the second year in a row. Arkansas State Park officials held a ceremony in the Greenbrier park's honor on Friday.
The park, located about 6.5 miles off Highway 65 along Highway 285 in Greenbrier, is known for its welcoming atmosphere and consistency, Arkansas State Parks Director Grady Spann said.
"You won [Park of the Year] in 2016 and then came back around and won it again in 2017," he said Friday as he applauded Woolly Hollow's staff. "That just shows consistency of what you do here. You take care of people really well. Every time I come, whether I see you guys or not, everything is always in place, clean and the trails are great. [This accolade] comes from taking care of [campers] up at the front desk and making sure everything's taken care of all throughout the park."
Records show that Woolly Hollow State Park saw a 75 percent increase in visitation last year and nearly doubled its revenue and camping occupancy.
Each of the park's accomplishments over the years, and especially over the last two to be named Park of the Year twice consecutively, is a direct correlation of the efforts put in by the park's administrators and staff, Superintendent Steve Wilson said.
Wilson said he also wanted to commend other parks in the region for their hard work over the past year.
"I'm so amazed at everything that everybody does every year," he said. "When you see everything that everyone's done, it makes you think, 'Wow, I don't deserve to be part of that [honor] because they've done so much.' But, then to be selected as Park of the Year this year and last year also, is humbling. It's totally honoring."
Region Two encompasses primarily state parks in central Arkansas but extends from the Plantation Agriculture Museum in Scott to Mammoth Spring State Park in Mammoth Spring.
As superintendent, Wilson said his role at the park is only a small part of what makes Woolly Hollow's success possible.
"They take care of things and do what has to be done," he said, pointing to his staff in the newly-built visitor center on Friday. "The staff that works here is just completely incredible and I want to thank each of you for what y'all do. Every one of them loves this place as I do, and if it wasn't for them, we wouldn't be where we are today."
Arkansas State Parks Deputy Director Shea Lewis said parks are a lot like small cities and that there's a lot that goes on behind the scenes that is often overlooked.
With these day-to-day hassles, he said Woolly Hollow staff members were still able to keep up with the flow and further improve their park over the last year.
"When we talk about parks, we talk about them being a small city," he said. "That's really what they are — we have wastewater, all the utilities, roads, facilities and everything that goes into all the staff that keeps this place running. We appreciate what you do on a daily basis, day in and day out. It gets tough during the summer when its 100 degrees and that's when the water line breaks, that's when the air conditioner at the visitor center quits working, all those things that are just continuing to happen throughout the year, but that's part of the whole experience of living and working here. Just know that we appreciate what you do."
Arkansas State Parks Marketing and Revenue Manager Joe Jacobs has said Woolly Hollow is "the perfect park."
"We sat out here here one day as the sun went down and it was just the neatest place to be," Spann said as he recalled Jacobs' statement. "It just felt like [we] were really in a state park, which shows how you care about how this state park interacts with the public and it's evident in everything that you guys do."
Friday's award ceremony was held in the park's recently-completed visitor center, which is set to officially open to the public in late April.
Also in late April, Wilson will retire from his role as the park's superintendent. Wilson has collectively served Woolly Hollow for 37 years. A retirement ceremony is scheduled for April 12 at the park.