By John L. Ross
WHITLEY COUNTY —
Just what does Whitley County have to offer its tourism crowds?
That’s what the Whitley County Tourism Commission wants to have answered during a potential Familiarity Tour.
During the regular monthly meeting of the Commission Tuesday, members discussed holding a “Familiarity Tour” to acquaint politicians and other influential people to participate in a bus tour, highlighting some of the many county activities available to tourists.
Commission Chair Rich Prewitt said he had talked with Rep. Regina Bunch and State Sen. Sara Gregory, who both agreed to participate if their schedules allowed.
“(We need) to get the movers and shakers for the county to experience the natural beauty of the county,” Prewitt said.
Some places mentioned likely to be included in the tour are downtown Williamsburg, the water park, Laurel Lake and Cumberland Falls.
Park Manager Dave Jordan, who attended Tuesday’s meeting, said a tour like that should be a one-day event, held “sometime in late September, early October.”
Prewitt added that except for Bunch, there “are not a whole lot of representatives (at the state level) from Whitley County.”
Commission member Vickie Cooper motioned to begin working on planning the Familiarity Tour, with a second from Commission member Jeffrey Gray. Present commission members were unanimous in this decision. Absent from Tuesday’s meeting were members Deborah Moses and Andy Neal.
In other commission action or discussion:
— Whitley County might become a little more known after a decision at Tuesday’s Tourism Commission meeting.
Members decided to seek bids to produce a television commercial.
During the meeting, Prewitt said the county “missed an opportunity” by not advertising during the nationally-televised Border Bowl in January.
The rate for producing this type of commercial requires a 10 percent match, according to Prewitt.
“It’s a no-brainer,” Jordan said. “This place sells itself — it really does.”
The motion was made to solicit bids from competent producers to make a Whitley County TV commercial and video brochure.
This was seconded by commission member Bobby Freeman.
— Jordan discussed the upcoming Nature Photography Weekend at Cumberland Falls State Resort Park.
That event is slated for April 19-21 and features a digital competition. Guest speakers will also be on-hand offering tips and advice.
Cash awards will also be given out this year.
“People are already calling,” Jordan said.
All photos produced that weekend will be compiled on a disc. There are four categories, and in each category, the first-place winner will receive $150, and second place receives $100.
— Another topic of discussion concerned the recent changes to hours of operation at the park. It was requested that Judge/Executive Pat White Jr. draft a letter to the state urging for longer hours at the park.
White was in attendance at Tuesday’s meeting.
While it was noted that several state parks continue to lose money, Cumberland Falls remains “in the black.”
“It’s hard to promote tourism when you can’t have the store open,” said Commission Member Skip Walden. “It’s the political shaft.”
It was decided to concentrate the commission’s efforts for the next winter season.