Benjamin Franklin Fruehauf III and Paula Miles will be inducted into the Arkansas Tourism Hall of Fame during a noon luncheon on Monday, Feb. 27, during the 49th annual Arkansas Governor’s Conference on Tourism. The conference will be held Feb. 26-28 in El Dorado.
The Hall of Fame honor is presented annually to an individual or individuals who have been actively involved in Arkansas’s tourism industry for many years and who have made substantial contributions to the betterment of the industry as a whole.
Benjamin Franklin Fruehauf III
Benjamin Franklin Fruehauf III has spent a lifetime promoting and preserving The Natural State. In his youth, Ben and his father began floating the Illinois River near the Arkansas/Oklahoma border. They soon heard stories of a pristine river known as the Buffalo and in 1970, after a few more visits to the state, Ben’s father purchased land in Gilbert. Since that time, Ben has worked to ensure visitors to Arkansas and the Buffalo have the same captivating experience he first had.
Ben began Buffalo Camping and Canoeing by renting a handful of aluminum canoes out of his one-bedroom cabin and putting up campers in his backyard. In 1972, his company was named an authorized concessionaire of the newly designated Buffalo National River, and in 1988 Ben purchased the Gilbert General Store. Today, Ben operates the store as a living, working museum. Ben also does his part to “keep Gilbert cool” and has maintained the Gilbert weather reporting station since 2014. Every day he inspects the station and reports data to the National Weather Service in Little Rock.
Ben has been a board member of the Ozark Mountain Region Tourism Association since 2005 and served as a Gilbert city councilman from 1986 to 1997 and as Gilbert mayor from 1997 to 2005.
Paula Miles retired in 2020 as assistant director of Arkansas State University Heritage Sites. During her time at ASU, Paula played a key role in the restoration of the four Heritage Sites museums (Johnny Cash Boyhood Home, Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Educational Center, Southern Tenant Farmers Museum and Lakeport Plantation) and the restoration of the historic Kays House on the ASU campus. Later, she helped move the Heritage Sites offices to the restored Kays structure and set up the “Governor Mike Beebe Office” in the main living room. Paula helped lead the restoration, meeting with architects to finalize museum plans and working with design companies to create the museum exhibits.
Paula has coordinated many fundraising events through the years, helped plan the grand opening for each site and organized each gift shop, including researching and securing specialty items unique to each location. Paula also worked to create and develop the outdoor exhibits at the Rohwer Relocation Camp narrated by George Takei.
A passionate advocate for the Delta, Paula currently serves as executive secretary/treasurer for the Arkansas Delta Byways Regional Tourism Association, which serves 15 counties in Eastern Arkansas. Paula has received multiple distinguished performance awards for her work with the ASU Heritage Sites and Special Recognition and Outstanding Member Awards for Arkansas Delta Byways.
For information on the Hall of Fame Awards, contact KateLynn Parks at 501-682-1676.
For information on the 49th annual Arkansas Governor’s Conference on Tourism or to register to attend, contact 501-682-1676 or visit www.arkansasgovernorsconference.com
Arkansas Tourism, a division of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism, strives to expand the economic impact of travel and tourism in the state and enhance the quality of life for all Arkansans. The division manages 14 Arkansas Welcome Centers and employs more than 60 staff members across The Natural State. For more information, visit www.arkansas.com.
Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism
The Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism protects and promotes our state’s natural, cultural and historic assets, contributing to a thriving economy and high quality of life. It is made up of three divisions: Arkansas State Parks, Arkansas Heritage and Arkansas Tourism. Mike Mills serves as the cabinet secretary for the department.