Peasant Dreams: ‘Medieval' Castle in the Ozarks Presents Grand Illusion

by George Waldon  on Monday, Mar. 4, 2013 12:00 am  

“The first time I heard from them, I thought it was Craig O’Neill calling me up to play a prank,” Rice said.

That initial skepticism was well placed, according to Burleson and others who worked and dealt with Guyot and Julie Sonveau, general manager of the Ozark Medieval Fortress.

Efforts to locate and contact Guyot and Sonveau were unsuccessful.

Burleson witnessed the French promoter make strings of broken promises to men and women who invested their time and talents to help make the dream project a reality.

People were hired at a promised wage only to see their hourly pay cut by $5 not long after arriving, according to Burleson. Some workers moved to the area and naively bought homes on Guyot’s pledge of 20 years of employment associated with the fortress.

Dishonest dealings extended to businesses supplying goods and services to the project, too.

Area quarries delivered truckloads of limestone blocks to assemble the fortress, Burleson said. However, Guyot wouldn’t authorize payment while enjoying a stockpile of free building material.

According to Burleson, Guyot’s credo was “If it wasn’t in writing, you were stupid to believe me.”

“I listened to them talk,” Burleson said. “They knew what they were doing. Everyone was cutting them slack, and they were taking advantage of it. They were using their foreigner’s status to get away with things. I do regret how it all came down and how people got hurt.”

Burleson didn’t speak out earlier about the shadiness of Guyot et al because people he helped hire still worked there.

The Ozark Medieval Fortress is poised to go down in Arkansas tourism lore as one of its most flamboyant failures. For now, the grand project remains in money-seeking mode in search of benefactors.

Its website proclaims: “Due to financial reasons, opening in 2013 is not forecasted. We are looking for financial American partners to continue the project.”



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