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Gentry, Arkansas
Downtown Gentry
Downtown Gentry
Location of Gentry in Benton County, Arkansas.
Location of Gentry in Benton County, Arkansas.
Country United States
State Arkansas
County Benton
 • Total 5.20 sq mi (13.47 km2)
 • Land 5.17 sq mi (13.40 km2)
 • Water 0.03 sq mi (0.06 km2)
1,234 ft (376 m)
 • Total 3,790
 • Density 732.51/sq mi (282.82/km2)
Time zone UTC-6 (Central (CST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s) 479
FIPS code 05-26290
GNIS feature ID 0077005

Gentry is a city in Benton County, Arkansas, United States. The population was 3,158 at the 2010 census. The city was founded in the Ozark Mountains in 1894 along what would become the Kansas City Southern Railroad. The city's prior prosperity in the orchard industry, especially apples, was further strengthened by the rail connection. Following the decline of the apple industry in the 1930s, Gentry shifted its economy towards poultry along with many other areas of northwest Arkansas. Today, Gentry is located within the Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers Metropolitan Area. Gentry is known for the Wild Wilderness Drive-Through Safari, located 2 miles (3 km) north of the city limits.


Gentry, Arkansas (1912)
Gentry in 1912
Bank of Gentry
The historic Bank of Gentry building was built in 1904 and added to the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) in 1988.

Gentry began as a rural Ozark agricultural community named Orchard City. Located in western Benton County, it was known for its apple orchards and other produce. The town began to grow when the Kansas City Southern Railroad was constructed through the town. In 1894, residents of the community petitioned the county to officially incorporate, and the city's name was changed to Gentry, after an official in charge of the construction of the railroad.

The railroad proved important to Gentry, and by 1903 the town had grown to a population of 1,000.

The railroad company built a new depot in Gentry in 1926-1927. It was known as one of the nicest depots on the railway line. A banquet was held for the grand opening, and railway officials arrived on a special train to commemorate the event. Four to six passenger trains a week came through Gentry until passenger service was discontinued in 1964.

In 1937, Highway 59 was built, running through the city north and south. It remains the main highway through the city, linking Gentry with other west Benton County communities.

In 1946, the City Council voted to buy a water tank for $1,650 from the War Assets Corporation in Kentucky. In 1948, the city held a special election to issue bonds to install larger water mains and additional fireplugs. In the 1950s, the city purchased its own water company. At the beginning of the 21st century, Gentry was expanding water lines into rural areas surrounding the community.

Using donations, local businesses built the first auditorium at the intersection of Main and Collins streets. The building now houses the city's police department and courtroom.

In the 1960s, when agriculture was no longer the economic base it had once been for the city and the railroad, the train depot was torn down.

The next decade saw the beginning of the construction of a power plant by Southwestern Electric Power Company (often known as SWEPCO). The plant, located 1 mile (1.6 km) west of the city limits, is a coal-fueled electric generating facility called Flint Creek Power Plant. Today SWEPCO continues to provide electrical power, and SWEPCO Lake (shown on maps as "Lake Flint Creek" but known by locals as "hot lake") is used for fishing and recreation. To ease traffic through downtown, a new Arkansas Highway 12 bypass was built on the southern edge of town. In the early 1970s, the Wild Wilderness Drive-Through Safari was established north of town. The 400-acre (160 ha) park is home to a variety of exotic animals and consists of a 4 miles (6 km) drive-through, petting parks and walk-through areas for interaction with the animals. In 1983, the McKee Foods Corporation (then known as McKee Baking Company) opened its manufacturing facility in Gentry.

The city celebrated its centennial in 1994 and held a 110th Birthday Bash in 2004.


Gentry is located at 36°16′1″N 94°29′3″W / 36.26694°N 94.48417°W / 36.26694; -94.48417 (36.266899, -94.484304) at the intersection of Highway 12 and Highway 59.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 4.2 square miles (11.0 km2), of which 0.019 square miles (0.05 km2), or 0.44%, is water.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1900 419
1910 668 59.4%
1920 724 8.4%
1930 779 7.6%
1940 726 −6.8%
1950 729 0.4%
1960 686 −5.9%
1970 1,022 49.0%
1980 1,468 43.6%
1990 1,726 17.6%
2000 2,165 25.4%
2010 3,158 45.9%
2020 3,790 20.0%
U.S. Decennial Census
2015 Estimate
Gentry Arkansas Lamppost
Lamppost in Downtown Gentry, Arkansas

2020 census

Gentry racial composition
Race Number Percentage
White (non-Hispanic) 2,526 66.65%
Black or African American (non-Hispanic) 20 0.53%
Native American 154 4.06%
Asian 143 3.77%
Pacific Islander 3 0.08%
Other/Mixed 320 8.44%
Hispanic or Latino 624 16.46%

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 3,790 people, 1,449 households, and 1,076 families residing in the city.

2010 census

As of 2010 the population of Gentry was 3,158. The racial and ethnic composition of the population was 75.4% non-Hispanic white, 0.2% black, 5.6% Native American, 4.2% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 8.1% from some other race, 3.3% from two or more races and 12.0% Hispanic or Latino.

Faith organizations

Gentry has an active faith community with churches of many different affiliations, including Seventh-day Adventist, United Methodist, Baptist, Church of Christ, Assemblies of God, Rastafarian and Mennonite. Most denominations offer programs for youth and families as well as regular worship services. A community-wide Thanksgiving program is hosted each year by one of the local churches.


More than 160 businesses, including restaurants, bed and breakfast establishments, small industry/manufacturing plants, retail stores and service-oriented businesses, reside in Gentry.

Gentry's largest employer is McKee Foods Corporation, maker of the famous Little Debbie and Sunbelt snacks. McKee Foods celebrated 20 years of manufacturing in Gentry and dedicated a 40,000-square-foot (3,700 m2) expansion to the existing plant in 2002. The company thrift store is located on the corner of Arkansas Highway 59 and Main Street.

Tufco Flooring is also based in Gentry. It was started back in the 1960s by Paul, Donald, and Frank Cox. It now has franchises all over the U.S. with three in Gentry alone: Arkotex Inc., Tufco International, and Tufco Sales and Service. They are producers of industrial flooring, specializing in the food processing industry.


Public education

Public education is primarily provided by the Gentry School District, which supported more than 1,400 students in 2010–11. The district and high school mascot is the Pioneer, with maroon and white serving as the school colors.

The district encompasses Highfill and a portion of Cherokee City. Competitive sports programs include football, baseball, fast-pitch softball, men and women's basketball and soccer, bowling, cross country, wrestling, cheer, golf, volleyball, and track teams, Odyssey of The Mind,Robotics, Competitive Gaming. They also have Fine Arts including but not limited to Choir,Theater,Drama,Art,Music, and appreciation classes for both art and music.

Private education

Another school system in Gentry is Ozark Adventist School (K-8th grade) and Ozark Adventist Academy (grades 9-12). Both schools are sponsored and operated by the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The academy features a girls and boys dormitory for students to live in that are not living in the local area. These schools also offer some sports programs but focus on academics and Christian living.

Notable people

  • Jonathan Barnett, a Republican member of the Arkansas House of Representatives from Benton County, currently resides in Gentry.
  • Lance Eads, Republican member of the Arkansas House of Representatives for District 88 in Washington County; former resident of Gentry
  • Delia Haak, Member of the Arkansas House of Representatives for district 91

See also

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