'Walmart Week' Puts Northwest Arkansas on International Stage

The Northwest Arkansas calendar has many important dates with big-time events, but only a few can match Walmart shareholders’ week.

It’ll be a great week to showcase Northwest Arkansas to people who’ve never traveled here, and to the national and international media reporters arriving to learn more about Walmart and Sam’s Club in the few days prior to attending Friday’s shareholders’ meeting.

The arrival of international guests started over the weekend, and today will be one of the region’s biggest arrival days for out-of-town guests from across the U.S. The Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport on a typical day sees 1,700 to 1,800 arriving passengers; today will approach 3,000 people.

The biggest event of shareholders’ week will be the shareholders’ meeting itself on Friday when an estimated 14,000 people will fill up Bud Walton Arena on the University of Arkansas campus in Fayetteville.

Northwest Arkansas residents have surely started predicting who will be on stage with the Walmart and Sam’s Club executives as the meeting plays out. The names of the movie, television and music superstars who will take the stage this year are a closely held secret known only by a few at Walmart. Past big-name guests have included Harry Connick Jr., Hugh Jackman, The Black Eyed Peas, Robin Thicke, Justin Timberlake, Tom Cruise, Ben Stiller, Taylor Swift, Will Smith, Alicia Keyes, Tim McGraw and Enrique Iglesias.

Our out-of-town guests will find plenty to do while they’re here, and thousands of them are likely to tour Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville or attend tonight’s Third Eye Blind/Dashboard Confessional concert at the Walmart AMP in Rogers. Tickets are still available.

Walmart, meanwhile, will host its own concerts tonight and Wednesday night for Walmart associates. Lifehouse and Train will perform at Bud Walton Arena tonight. Associates will see Backroad Anthem and Lynyrd Skynyrd take the stage on Wednesday night.

The out-of-towners who've attended previous shareholders' events in the region will experience a Northwest Arkansas that keeps moving forward and that gets better with each passing year.

Guests to the region have long had access to excellent restaurants on Dickson Street in Fayetteville, but high-quality restaurants are now plentiful near the Bentonville Square. There's also now a thriving brew pub scene with beer being made in most of the larger Northwest Arkansas cities. Additionally, it’s a good bet that some Walmart associates will shop in Rogers at Pinnacle Hills Promenade or rent bikes at Phat Tire, The Bike Route or one of the other local shops to test out the new 36-mile Razorback Regional Greenway that runs from Bella Vista to Fayetteville.

People throughout the region who don’t attend the shareholders’ meeting on Friday will be watching it. The company provides a way to watch the entire meeting on a computer screen.