If the reaction locals have been giving to the TruTV reality show special "Rowdy River" is any indication of the upcoming season, it may be a record breaker.
Opinions vary on the content of the show from people being highly offended to others being pleased with the reality brought forth by the special of a problem that is not new, just more publicized.
An air of negativity was given by the advertisements for the special, calling it "raunchy river," but in reality after viewing the show which was part of the Party Heat series, it also brought forth a very strong message of accountability by the officers who patrol the river including ones from Fulton County as well as numerous Arkansas Game and Fish officers.
Hardy Mayor Nina Thornton said although the largest part of the partying highlighted on the show occurs in the Fulton County area, and most take outs are before they get to the town of Hardy, including Spring River Oaks and Many Islands, the message is the same, "If you come down here and aren't responsible and break the law, you will suffer the consequences." She went on to say, "We want everyone to have a good time, and don't want to be fishing bodies out of our river." This is something, that has happened many times in the area. Thornton said she thought that overall the message was positive and showed people would be arrested if they broke the laws on the river.
Although many say that the show will bring more people to the river to party, the intention of the special was to show them to be responsible when they do float the Spring River. The officers also displayed the utmost professionalism in their patrol, despite one situation during the special that had the potential for a riot situation when a officer was issuing a second citation to a woman for flashing at a well known island area where numerous partiers are known to congregate.
Fulton County Sheriff Walter Dillinger, who signed the contract allowing TruTV to film the special and ride along with the officers said his intention was simply to make the public aware of what goes on at the river. He said although the problem will never go away, at least by airing the special, it will make those who do plan on coming to the river and partying aware of the law enforcement presence as well as the fines from their offenses.
Dillinger said the contract was for a year, and said it was unclear whether TruTV would come back to film another special during the other huge river holiday, Memorial Day, which is what many guessed the producers would choose to do and by the ending, comments on the show all but confirmed they would be back.