A Company Called "Heritage USA" is Leasing Dogpatch, and the Whole Thing Seems Sketchy

  Credit: OzarksAlive

Credit: OzarksAlive

On Monday, it was announced by the owners of Dogpatch USA, located between Harrison and Jasper on Highway 7, that they were leasing the park to a company called Heritage USA, which would begin to revive and rebuild the park starting next spring.

The whole situation is sketchy as hell.

Before I get too deep into what’s going on here, I should note that this blog was originally going to be on Trump reducing the size of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments by 80 and 50 percent, respectively. It probably wasn’t going to be anything you hadn’t read already. You should still go read about that too. When I saw the first reports of this story and read a bit deeper into it, I realized there are some things that should probably be brought to attention here. So let’s get into it.

What is Dogpatch USA?

For those who aren’t familiar with Dogpatch, it’s a currently abandoned theme park in Northern Arkansas. Located off Highway 7 between Harrison and Jasper, the park is about a 50 minute drive from Branson. The area the park is located in is now known as Marble Falls.

Dogpatch opened in 1968, and was based off the comic strip Li’l Abner. Li’l Abner was created by a dude named Al Capp, back in 1934. The strip followed hillbillies living in a fictional town called Dogpatch. At the time, it was the first major comic set in the south, and had an influence on how America viewed southern culture.

In 1966, a man by the name of O.J. Snow from Harrison decided that a frontier based theme park would do well at the location. After getting permission to use the Li’l Abner name from Al Capp, Snow and a group of Harrison businessmen founded a company (Recreation Enterprises Incorporated, REI) to buy and develop the land.

  Credit: AbandonedArkansas

Credit: AbandonedArkansas

The park was built in two phases, the theme park itself and then a train connecting the park and hotel with convention center in Marble Falls (top right of the above map). Marble Falls (an actual like, city) would later be renamed Dogpatch. The original cost of the park was 1.3 million dollars, equivalent to 10 million dollars in 2017.

The park attracted 300,000 visitors in 1968. After that, attendance never surpassed 200,000 in a single year. A man named Jess Odom bought out the shares of REI in 1969. This guy added loads of rad stuff to the park, like sea lions and exotic birds. He also built a ski resort adjacent to the property, the first in Arkansas! Unfortunately for him, Arkansas is not the best place for ski resorts, and it didn’t actually snow at all during the first winter the park was open.

By the late 70’s, Odom had really fucked up, and was in over 2 million dollars of debt. Dogpatch filed for bankruptcy in 1980. It was bought by another group who did weird stuff like bring in Superman and Batman to the folk themed park. Well that didn’t work either, and Odom was somehow able to buy back most of the park. It was bought by yet another group in 1987 and would go on to barely operate through 1993, before closing for good.  

The main draw to the park was never the rides or attractions, but rather how naturally scenic the location is. Even driving by today on Highway 7, the area catches your eye.

Really, there were so many different owners, additions, and phases that the park went through, that it’s impossible to cover them all with much depth. It’s important to realize though that a lot of people who grew up in the Ozarks during the 70’s and 80’s went to Dogpatch as kids. It was a big deal for the area. There’s plenty of sentiment still left for the park.   

Who owns Dogpatch now?

So Dogpatch shifted between several more ownership groups during the 2000’s, and was frequently put up for sale. It was even listed on eBay at one point. The post office in Dogpatch (like the real life town part) changed it’s name back to the Marble Falls post office. It’s almost like it rudely didn’t want to be associated with a failed theme park and 1930’s comic strip.

At one point, in a somewhat hilarious twist, some 17 year old kid by the name of Pruett Nance was riding his ATV around the park, with permission from the owners, when he was nearly decapitated by a wire strung between two trees. His family filed a lawsuit, which would make it to the Arkansas Supreme Court (because of course it did), and they were awarded over $750,000. The owners couldn’t pay the damages, so Nance was awarded the deed to the park and became the new owner.

ANYWAYS, in 2014 the park and most of the surrounding land was sold to a man named Bud Pelsor. This is Bud Pelsor. I love Bud Pelsor so much.

Bud Pelsor is the creator of the REVOLUTIONARY spill proof dog bowl. Put simply, he is one of the greatest minds of our time. When Bud and his business partner first bought the park in 2014, everyone flipped out, Dogpatch was coming back! They promised to turn the park into an “ecotourism village” featuring artists, live music, a trout farm, and mill. He even opened the park back up to the public in December 2014, just to show off the progress being made.

After having some of the promised events with music and crafts in 2015 and early 2016, the park was put back up for sale. Bud explained that his business partner wanted out, but he couldn’t afford to buy out his share. He did say that he’d be happy to remain on as a co-owner of the park if someone else bought the share.

Here we are now. It was announced this Monday that Bud would be leasing out the park to a company called “Heritage USA” beginning in March 2018. Heritage USA has an option to buy the park at any point during or after the lease. As for Bud, he’s said he’ll be staying on as a part of Heritage USA through the transition.

I’d like to point out that Bud Pelsor actually lives at the park. In the former ski lodge. One would assume by himself. Hopefully making ice cream floats to drink out of dog bowls. This man is a treasure.    

What is Heritage USA?

So, when I saw that this Heritage USA company would be leasing out the park to create the “Heritage USA Dogpatch Resort” I was instantly curious. What does this company do and what other parks do they operate? Well as we’re about to explore, they supposedly do a whole frickin’ lot.

The original article on the purchase that I saw included the following video from Heritage USA. Its… interesting to say the least.

If you can’t watch the video, a man by the name of David Hare (who doesn’t actually introduce himself in the video, but trust me we’ll get to him later) interviews “Wendy”, who you can tell is definitely from Arkansas. They ramble on about Wendy’s experiences at the park as a child, and how amazing the park is, even claiming that there are features “Disney could not recreate” (lol).

The video points several time to their website for more information. Heritage USA also replied to several comments on that video (comments are disabled on all of their other videos, so this is an interesting move) that more information was available on their website. So let’s check out their website!

 This is it. That's all folks.

This is it. That's all folks.

Soooooo.. This is still weird! First off, I’ll be honest, I designed our Ozark Mountain Overland site on my own, and pay $16 a month for hosting. You would think that a company that; 1.) Just signed a lease to build a new resort, and 2.) has, as Mr. Hare claims in the video you see on their homepage, “hundreds of writers, actors, producers, imagineers, animators, and creative talents” could design a better website than a 19 year old college student.

Obviously, we still have a lot of questions, so let’s get into that video on their homepage. If you thought that first video was something else, get ready for this..

Where to even start.

“I am just one of a hundred writers, actors, producers, imagineers, animators, and creative talents that are using our talents to celebrate America, and our great American Heritage”

Ok. I have my doubts about this claim. Not so much the celebrating America part, but the number of “talent” they have. C’mon David, this entire production is far too low quality for us to believe this!

“Well this is our first preview program to let you know who Heritage USA is and What. We. Are. Doing.”

Thank you! That’s exactly what I came here for.

“But right now, let me tell you what we are doing As. We. Speak. Our animators are some of THE BEST anywhere. We are excited to have them working on several projects as we speak. One, is this little logo you see here on the screen, uh, together, animating it, so that we have a real nice opening to all of our videos, whether it’s a movie, animated feature, animated short, television program, whatever it may be.”

Yes. This logo. This logo that a whole team of animators worked on.    

Literally most 12 year old Minecraft Youtubers have better intros. We do get a peek here into what Heritage USA actually does, it’s a production studio from the sounds of it. This is interesting. Not as interesting as Hubble the Hare though.

“Hubble Hare is our host, and our mascot. He has QUITE the resume. Hubble has actually traveled the entire United States, and I mean LITERALLY…

Ah yes, thank you for clarifying. I was assuming that the animated hare you’re showing me had not actually traveled the entire United States, since that’s ridiculous. I guess I was wrong.

“He has performed at churches, schools.. Public and private schools, he has performed at hospitals, charity events, uh, fairs and festivals and carnivals. He has literally been to about, I don’t know, 47 states across the nation. Meeting families and children, as far back as the 80’s and 90’s, back during the Reagan years. So he’s been around, doing it old school. Door to door. People to people. Person to person. Performance to performance for a long time.”

What. I feel like I’m falling deeper into a pit here. So someone has been dressing up as rabbit for all of these years and… performing? Preforming how? AT SCHOOLS? DOOR TO DOOR? I actually have this theory that Hubble the Hare is David Hare… but we’ll get to that in a bit.

David then goes on for several minutes, showing us sketches of Hubble and explaining how he’s being animated. He’s very excited about all of this. Probably because the dude doesn’t have to dress up as a big rabbit anymore!    

Then he shows us another animation that they’re working on for a series of shorts where they spoof Hollywood.

“We poke back at them for all their pickin! And listen, we’re doing it, we’re standing up for America, but all in good humor. You know the way that they used to do? We’re showing them how they used to do it!”

He presents us with drawings of Carol Channing who will apparently be traveling back to the “classic days of Hollywood to set those people straight, and I mean seriously!” The soundtrack for the short that he plays is titled “You’re Wrong” and it’s very bad. I’m not certain, but it sounds like David himself singing.

He goes on to mention a full length animated film that they’re working on as well, which is a three year project. Ok, that’s something!

“Now, we are launching a 24/7 Roku and Smart TV channel that you’ll also be able to watch online at HertiageUSA.com. That’s just there to keep you up to date to what we’re doing here, and to celebrate our nation, and to celebrate you for loving your nation. Uh, I’m not sure if it’s widely understood in some parts of the entertainment industry that the American flag is a GOOD thing.”        

Finally! Something really real! One of the television programs that will be available for viewers is “Charleston Antique Mall” which, you can actually watch right now! I wouldn’t recommend it though. It’s a special kind of bad.

“One of the programs I am most excited about, is our educational series. We’re doing it with fun. Today, the education system is being overwrought with, in the view of many, with an anti-American agenda. We just want to set the record straight, again, in fun, with good humor, but also factual. That’s why we have been able to secure the talents and scholarship *picks up paper, takes a big, nervous swallow* of Liz Lazaru(?) Now, this is an incredible human being who is a teacher with her masters degree… Now she’s with Heritage USA producing an educational TV series that teaches kids the TRUTH about America and American history, uh, exceptionalism, by way of science and discovery. It is an exciting series. I really think the homeschooling market is going to enjoy this.”

If you haven’t noticed yet, David Hare talks the way Donald Trump tweets. It’s great. I personally cannot wait to learn about real American history. All these years of public education have just filled my head with lies and anti-American thoughts. Get out! Get out! I scream in the night, but to no avail...              

“What we are doing, is celebrating faith in America. Look, I don’t know why, but Christianity is under attack in America. Christianity goes hand in hand with our great American heritage. We’re here to support it, and defend it, through the creative arts, and productions, and entertainment. That’s what we are, and willing, and gonna keep doing. Celebrate our great Christian faith.”

Alright, here we have it. FINALLY. 11 minutes in, David finally tells us what they’re really doing here. Not that we haven’t been able to figure it out on our own yet. Heritage USA is an ultra conservative production(?) company(?) that will be working to promote American heritage and Christianity. Nothing wrong with any of that!

It’s still all very weird, this whole situation. A company appears out of basically nowhere, led and represented by one man, to take over a historic theme park near Harrison, Arkansas. This company provides almost no actual information about itself, other than it’s supposed plans and projects.

In the update video that we just discussed, it appears that David is coming to us from a live studio, in front of a large window that looks out at a stream and path, featuring kids riding their bikes and couples walking.

Except, and I’ll admit I didn’t catch this until I had watched it a few times, he’s sitting very clearly in front of a green screen. There is no studio. Just the table. So where is Mr. Hare really?

How about... Las Vegas! That’s because David Hare is the founder and president of a company called Las Vegas Broadcasting Company Americas TV Network. Which is a mouthful. The studio that the Heritage USA video is recorded in can be seen in several Las Vegas Broadcasting Company Americas TV Network videos.

Like Heritage USA, it’s hard to tell exactly what this company does. You can find several videos of “daily news updates” that were posted until this last June, starring none other than David Hare himself. They’ve also produced this absolutely BONKERS video about the Raiders moving to Las Vegas and strippers. It has to be a spoof. It has to be.

So we’re led to assume that Heritage USA is just a part of this same company, at least for now. This is most likely where the “talent” Heritage USA has available to them is coming from, although there doesn’t appear to be much to begin with anyways.   

What’s in a name?       

News outlets reporting on this story this week were quick to point out that they had confirmed this company has no connection to the Heritage USA theme park originally opened in 1978 in South Carolina.

Why would this be relevant to anyone? Well that theme park has a history of its own.

Created by televangelists Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, Heritage USA was a christian themed park that apparently saw massive success, attracting six million visitors annually at one time. The couple operated the park as a non profit, bringing in over $126 million dollars a year. The IRS basically realized that this was bullshit, and revoked their tax exempt status. The park filed for bankruptcy with over $72 million in debt.

It also didn’t help that Jim Bakker was convicted of drugging and raping a 21 year old woman and another man. His Wikipedia page describes him as a “convicted fraud” so that’s cool.

Essentially, Heritage USA was very bad. You should research it on your own, because it’s a pretty crazy story in itself. But Is it possible that the creators of this new company are taking inspiration from that park? Or is it just a crazy coincidence? Well, if we read this comment that David Hare left on the original Heritage USA park Facebook page, no, it’s not a coincidence at all.

(The post has now been deleted, here is the direct quote.)

"Big supporter, believer in Heritage USA! Stood on the berm when it was closed and cried deep tears."      

Who the hell is this David Hare guy?

David Hare, as you probably tell by now, appears to be a very interesting man.

First off, let’s get real here. There’s no way this guy’s name is actually “Hare”, it’s very clearly his stage name. I THINK his real name is David Irvine. One of his Facebook account’s username is “davidhareirvine”. I can’t back this up, but it makes sense, since David has been a performer for most of life by the sounds of it.

David grew up in Los Angeles before moving to Texas, where he became a young “writer, producer, and all around entertainer”. He then envisioned a “new kind of TV show” titled “Family Jubilee” since American television was “out of step with ordinary, hard working people”. David was the producer and host of this show, for something like 25 years!

According to his Linkedin profile, as well as his profile picture on another one of his Facebook accounts, he is the host of K.KID RADIO with Hubble the Hare. I’ve been unable to find anything to do with this radio program.

David Hare is most definitely Hubble the Hare though. The character originated on his Family Jubilee show, and there were jokes/references made on the show to the two never being seen together. We know your secret David!

I’m not sure what David actually does. Besides talk a whole lot, create meaningless media companies, and dress up as a rabbit.

Also: I’m pretty sure David Hare is living in Branson right now. He said in the Dogpatch USA update video that he was making the drive every day. Branson was put on this earth for David Hare.

So here we are, finally, at my favorite part of all this...

Reckless Speculation!

I’ll present you with two scenarios about what I think is going on here. I could be very wrong about both! We’ve been given very little information about what’s going on here with Dogpatch, and a company that continually uses the excuse “We can’t tell you that information” or lies about “More information being [wherever online]” is fairly subject to reckless speculation! Especially when that company is working to cater to a group of Americans who are angry and do not want to see any change in what they think is THEIR country.

Scenario One:

David Hare is a frontman. I don’t know who’s behind his companies, or what their exact intentions are, but these aren’t his projects. He fits the bill, I mean just look at this guy.

hare.JPG

So some wealthy (but clearly not tooooooo wealthy) person is trying to create far right media company to help preserve American heritage or Christianity or whatever they think is wrong with our country. David Hare is completely willing to be the face and take credit for the work of this company and individual. He is the man for this job. 

Scenario Two:

David Hare, and his business partner Mike Bigelow, really have created these companies to promote whatever their exact agenda is. We’re watching another failed attempt to resurrect Dogpatch. The writing on the wall is here. Low quality production of seemingly everything they have to show us. Limited information on their actual plans. This is sadly just another false hope for some preservation of the park.

I’m not sure what to believe is going on here. I probably believe the second scenario is more likely what is going on here, but the first wouldn’t surprise me either.

This was bound to happen at some point though. If you asked me where the best place in the entire country for an ultra conservative media company to build an American Heritage themed Disney World knockoff, I would say Harrison Arkansas! Dogpatch was ripe for the picking.

Can’t handle increasing disapproval of what the core values you believe in? Afraid of becoming an outsider? Head on down to Harrison. You’ll fit right in.

Why does any of this matter though? I’ll be honest, it’s a question I’m asking myself.

If you want my two cents on what should happen to the park, I’m honestly surprised the state or USDA or some government agency hasn’t purchased the land to preserve the original buildings and scenery. I think it would see plenty of traffic and I’m willing to guess there would be statewide support on the project.

Until something like that happens, I think it’s going to be a very long time until Dogpatch is open for everyone to enjoy. Unless the first scenario I discussed is true, I have a hard time believing that David Hare has the capital required to do what he’s claiming he will do with the park. I mean there are even conflicting claims between Heritage and Bud Pelsor, with Pelsor claiming Heritage is leasing the park while Heritage has explicitly said on their Facebook page that they are NOT leasing but rather buying the park. (Pelsor last had the park for sale at 3 million dollars)     

The Buffalo National River and Ozark National Forest are the pride of the Ozarks. Dogpatch is located, not even on the doorstep, but in the doorway of both of these. I’m not sure how I feel about these people trying to come in here and do whatever it is they’re trying to do. It doesn’t seem Heritage USA is too radical in what it’s trying to accomplish, but I’m almost certain it will attract people who are very radical in what they believe.

Yeah it’s kind of a dumb, silly place, but Dogpatch is historic at this point. It’s important to a lot of people, and I do not believe that Heritage USA will do the park or anyone that it means anything to justice. It’s low quality production of media does not seem like it will translate into a high quality theme park.

That’s obviously the big question here. What’s going to happen to this place. Heritage has claimed in a Facebook post that a press conference and media packet will come out in January, so we’ll see then. In the meantime I’ll be covering any updates I can come across here at Ozark Mountain Overland. Writing about something like this is a nice break from our other articles.

If you think I’ve missed important information, or have any tips on this story that you’d like to drop me, see our about tab and drop a line there. I HIGHLY encourage you to dig a bit deeper into these companies and people to see just how… strange.. This all is.

Also, if you're David Hare, I would be interested in creating a full length documentary or in depth article on Hubble the Hare. thx