Archie Schaffer, born in Fort Smith and raised in Charleston, ended on Friday (Oct. 5) his last day as a full-time employee of Springdale-based Tyson Foods Inc.
The end of more than 21 years with the world’s largest meat processing, distribution and marketing company was shared with more than 500 people who gathered at Arvest Ballpark in Springdale on Friday for the 2nd annual Chicken, Peelin’ and Politickin’ event hosted by the Springdale Chamber of Commerce.
The cold and rainy weather — it was windy and 50 degrees when the Friday evening event began, and about 46 degrees when the crowd began to leave — did keep some away from the event. Perry Webb, president and CEO of the Springdale Chamber, said about 740 had confirmed attendance, but he estimated that about 550 people attended what is becoming a “must attend” political event in Northwest Arkansas.
The guests Friday night included U.S. Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., Gov. Mike Beebe, Lt. Gov. Mark Darr, Rep. Terry Rice, R-Waldron (possibly the next Speaker of the Arkansas House of Representatives), former U.S. Sen. David Pryor, and former U.S. Rep. Asa Hutchinson.
Business execs from around the state were also in attendance. Wayne Woods, president of the Little Rock-based advertising and public relations firm CJRW,
Schaffer told The City Wire he’ll continue to be affiliated with Tyson Foods as a consultant, but “has no formal plans yet” for what he’ll do next.
“I can tell you two things I won’t be doing. I’m not running for office and I won’t write a book,” Schaffer said.
For a man who often goes out of his way to avoid the spotlight, Schaffer said Friday night’s chamber event seemed a good fit.
“I thought this was maybe appropriate considering my 41 or 42 years in Arkansas politics,” he said.
Schaffer began working in politics before he graduated from the University of Arkansas. His political history includes helping a then Harrison businessman John Paul Hammerschmidt unseat the powerful incumbent U.S. Rep. James Trimble, and Schaffer — not yet 25-years-old at the time — served as chief of staff for Gov. Dale Bumpers.
Beebe, who was a fraternity brother during Schaffer’s time at Arkansas State University, said Schaffer may be unknown to many, but he’s had a huge impact on Arkansas politics.
“He was the guy who always wanted to be in the background,” Beebe said.
A video tribute to Schaffer — played on the big screen at Arvest Ballpark — included comments from former U.S. Sens. Dale Bumpers and David Pryor, and Tyson execs Buddy Wray and Leland Tollett. Schaffer is a nephew to Bumpers.
Link here to a recent Talk Business Quarterly story about the career of Archie Schaffer.