Pauls Valley's slogan is “We're not your ordinary small town.” Go to the Department of Tourism's website www.travelok.com and under Pauls Valley, click on “Festivals and Events” and see the diverse and eclectic mix of yearly activities — events such as Brickfest, Thunder in the Valley, Okie Noodling Tournament, Living Dead Center Festival and Zombie 5K Run, just to name a few.
Having brought numerous ideas to the community, Kevin Stark is a man who has been described as a cross between the Pied Piper and the Willy Wonka of Pauls Valley. He's a big supporter of all things tourism and is always one of the first to beat the bandwagon to get things happening.
Stark has been one of the main forces behind the city's arts initiative. He is the founder of the Toy and Action Figure Museum, a place that offers an assortment of superheroes, space icons, space villains, renegades of all kinds and other fun toys all displayed in a 6,000-square-foot building.
My family has made numerous trips to the Action Figure Museum and it always makes for an extremely entertaining and lively outing. Stark and his staff routinely change displays and exhibits.
There's an interactive area where kids can dress up as their favorite superhero. It's been fun to see the looks on the faces of adults who walk into this colorful treasure trove of nostalgia and childhood memories.
As a boy growing up in McAlester, I loved Superman and Batman comic books. So, when I strolled into the museum for the first time and saw the huge collection of Batman memorabilia, especially Batmobiles, I felt like a kid all over again.
“I collect tons of Batman,” Stark said. “And within Batman, I like to collect Batmobiles. One of my favorite pieces isn't actually an action figure. It's the 1966 Batmobile that Hot Wheels put out. It's a large scale dye cast Batmobile. I've been waiting years for that.”