This growing south Arkansas city earned two City of Distinction Awards from Arkansas Business, was voted “America’s Best Downtown” by CNN and last year, and its MusicFest was named “Festival of the Year” for the sixth year in a row by the Arkansas Festivals & Events Association. Not bad for a former sleepy oil town that’s now a must-see for its Southern hospitality and charm, and its burgeoning arts scene.
In fact, El Dorado is fast becoming an entertainment capital. A number of other special events, showcasing everything from historical reenactments and quilts to chili and mayhaw jelly, dot the calendar. The city boasts other year-round attractions, such as the El Dorado Film Festival at the South Arkansas Arts Center, and the South Arkansas Symphony Orchestra at the El Dorado Convention Center.
Impressive as this is, city leaders are in no way resting on their laurels. El Dorado is transforming itself into a destination in the South for festivals and events. Plans include many new performance venues that will soon play host to a cabaret and Broadway productions, fine art and artists in residence, as well as county- and state-wide food festivals and conferences. A children’s playscape is going in near a new amphitheater and a large hotel is in the works. El Dorado’s historic downtown will be home to these new venues, many of which will be woven into renovation projects or set alongside architectural relics. This impressive re-development is supported by more than $75 million in local investments, including millions from resident Fortune 500 Murphy USA and Murphy Oil.
Another way Murphy Oil has made an investment in El Dorado is through its youth and The El Dorado Promise. This unique program provides graduates of El Dorado High School a tuition scholarship that can be used at any accredited Arkansas public university or community college, or any accredited private or out-of-state university. It’s no wonder the city has become a magnet for young families.
Other services and attractions that lend to the quality of life here include the South Arkansas Regional Airport, an arboretum, South Arkansas Community College and a high school that’s less than four years old. Medical services are provided through the Medical Center of South Arkansas.
The people of El Dorado truly make the community special. Genuine, friendly and comfortable in their own skin, the locals’ pride of place is reflected in more than 100 civic organizations and clubs catering to every interest.