Toyland moving off downtown Bentonville square to Walmart Home Office parking lot

Parents and kids visit toy booths Friday, November 11, 2022 during the First Friday's Toyland event at the downtown square in Bentonville. The theme of this month's First Friday block party was Toyland. Kids had the opportunity to try out the latest toys.
(NWA Democrat-Gazette/Spencer Tirey)
Parents and kids visit toy booths Friday, November 11, 2022 during the First Friday's Toyland event at the downtown square in Bentonville. The theme of this month's First Friday block party was Toyland. Kids had the opportunity to try out the latest toys. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Spencer Tirey)


BENTONVILLE -- Toyland will have a new location this year.

The Nov. 3 event will be held in the Walmart Home Office parking lot. The lot is next to Fire Station No. 1 at the intersection of Southwest A and Southwest Eighth streets. The lot extends west down Eighth Street.

Toyland has been held for over 10 years on the downtown square. The move to the south is a little over half a mile.

Walmart will continue to lead the event with support from Downtown Bentonville Inc., according to Walmart.

Throughout the day, kids of all ages can test out the newest toys exclusive to Walmart and available for the upcoming holiday shopping season.

"If you've attended Toyland over the past several years, you've noticed the event has experienced exponential growth, exceeding our initial expectations," said Dana Schlagenhaft, executive director of Downtown Bentonville Inc. "While this underscores the enthusiastic support from our community, it has also presented logistical challenges. The current downtown footprint, which is experiencing a transition with multiple construction projects underway, cannot adequately accommodate the size and scope of Toyland this year. The decision to relocate Toyland in 2023 to the Walmart Home Office parking lot will create a more controlled environment for all participants."

Downtown Bentonville Inc. works to promote community and enhance the downtown experience for everyone, according to its website.

The City Council at its Sept. 26 meeting approved an amendment in the annual agreement with Downtown Bentonville Inc. for the relocation of Toyland to the parking lot.

"We're thrilled the event has grown so much and are grateful to be able to easily relocate to a larger venue," said Brittany Smith, vice president of merchandising – toys at Walmart. "I know this year will be another great event and we're excited for even more community members to come and enjoy Toyland."

David Wright, Parks and Recreation director, said the event needed to move because there was not enough space for vendors on the downtown square where the event has been held for years.

Wright estimated past Toyland events have drawn as many as 20,000 people.

"It was hard to walk," Wright said. "It wasn't comfortable. And there a lot of children who were getting lost."

Schlagenhaft said it was a no-brainer to move Toyland to a bigger location because of safety and the scope of the event. The event had presented logistical challenges in the past, she said.

No decision has been made on where Toyland will be held in 2024, she said.

Some ongoing building projects downtown include two new hotels, one with an associated parking deck, the Walmart Museum and expansion of the public library.

Work has started on the A Street Promenade, Wright said. The A Street Promenade will connect the yet-to-be-built Bentonville Commons, a planned plaza/activity space, to Lawrence Plaza, three blocks north.

Work will start soon on Town Branch Park, which is part of the Downtown Quilt of Parks, Wright said.


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