By LeeAnn Cain / Staff Writer
The 2014-2015 budget for the London-Laurel County Tourism Commission was approved at Tuesday’s meeting, according to Co-Director Kim Collier.
The budget is around $610,260 for both income and expenses. Collier said the tourism budget is required to be balanced.
A new grant application is available for event organizers seeking sponsorship from the tourism commission. Collier said the application will give the commission guidelines that will help them choose the events that will bring the most people into the area, and are most suited for tourism funding.
The Redbud Ride was a success, according to Co-Director Rodney Hendrickson. The event saw 1,119 riders, including 300 walk-up participants. Hendrickson said the numbers picked up as the ride approached. He noted riders came from as far as Canada for the ride.
Hendrickson collected comments on the ride that widely praised the ride as one of the best bike rides in the country. The commenters, whose names weren’t given, cited the scenery and the community as exceptional.
The Archery Shooters Association Pro/Am tournament will take place May 30-June1. Hendrickson said this is the largest 3D archery tournament in the world, with nearly 1,700 competitors vying for prize money totaling $80,000. Hendrickson said the event brings in enough people to fill hotels from Jellico, Tenn. to Berea.
In other tourism news:
–Around $9,000 has been approved for landscaping around the Heritage Hills area of Falls Road. The money will go to improve the appearance of the area with objects such as flowers.
–The 25th annual World Chicken Festival is set for Sept. 25-28. Collier said the theme of the parade this year is Celebrating the Silver in honor of the festival’s 25th anniversary. According to Collier, planning is going smoothly and the tourism commission is waiting to hear back on the Chicken Festival planning committee about doing “something special” for the anniversary.
–A rough draft of a script for a tourism video has been completed. Collier said the video will be featured at the visitor’s center, the tourism commission’s website, and any event for which tourism does a show.
–The newly revamped tourism website has received 2,172 visits between Feb. 18 and April 15. The average pages viewed per visit was 2.3 and the average time on the website was just under two minutes.
–A $5,000 Community Wellness Grant received by the tourism commission in January was used to install cycling signs throughout the county and a kiosk at the London Farmer’s Market.
–The American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) tournament has been set to begin July 20. According to Hendrickson, this is one of the biggest tournaments for youth golfers in the country. Representatives from the AJGA will be present at May’s London-Laurel County Chamber of Commerce meeting to speak about the tournament.
–Collier spoke about a meeting held earlier this month about the future of the Mountain Life Museum. The meeting was primarily held to generate ideas for funding and events concerning the museum, which is currently closed due to lack of funding and interest.