Big Family, Small Town: The Duggars Shine Spotlight on Tontitown

Local News

TONTITOWN, Ark. (KNWA) – Many have called Tontitown home for generations. 

“This land that I’m on right now was my great, great grandfather’s,” said resident Tisia Ratliff.

Tontitown is the home of the Grape Festival and a rich Italian heritage.  Today the small city is also known for one family.

It has been a tumultuous year for the Duggar family. Police reports released in May revealed the eldest Duggar –Josh– committed acts of child molestation as a teenager, some of his sisters among the victims. TLC canceled their reality TV show ’19 Kids and Counting’ in July. Then in August, Josh Duggar admitted to having an affair after the Ashley Madison scandal came to light.  In November, Law and Order Special Victim’s Unit also aired an episode loosely based on the family’s controversy.

“Every family has issues and I’m sorry that theirs are so public,” said Ratliff.

We stopped by the Duggar compound and were directed to their publicist, who told us the family had no statement at this time.

Close neighbors, like Ratliff, say the national spotlight next door, does not change their daily lives as residents of the Tontitown community.

“That’s their family and their personal business and it doesn’t have anything to do with us or me or hasn’t affected us in any way,” said Lavena Narvaiz, who lives across the street from the Duggars.

Ratliff says the occasional tourist photo also happens often: “The only thing that interferes is when people from other states block our driveway to take a picture in front of their house.”

Neighbors like Ratliff say the Duggars are the family that goes door to door during the holidays to sing Christmas carols. For now, life in Tontitown for those who are not reality TV stars, continues as it always has.

“I don’t think that the spotlight they bring to us harms Tontitown….I think we could stand alone, even without the Duggar celebrity,” said Narvaiz.

TLC is set to air specials surrounding two of the Duggar daughters titled “Jill & Jessa: Counting On” in December.

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