consultant to review
Oldham County as tourist spot
Brooks will visit,
assess the county in April
Helen E. McKinney
LA GRANGE, Ky. (April 2010) When you live
and work in a town daily, its hard to see it through the eyes
of a tourist. Oldham County is looking for a way to establish sites
that are unique to the county and area regionally.
Tourism consultant Roger Brooks will visit the cities
of Crestwood, Pewee Valley, Buckner, Goshen, Westport and La Grange
as a sort of secret shopper to determine Things that
can be done to make the area a stronger destination for business, residents
and visitors, said Becky Durkin, executive assistant to Brooks
and Client Relations Manager.
Brooks will spend four days in the county conducting a Community Assessment
to see what each town has to offer, individually, and then collectively
as an entire county. He will conduct a Findings and Suggestions workshop
from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Friday, April 16, at the Oldham County Schools
Arts Center for the community, business leaders and business owners.
Durkin said Brooks would consider things such as directional signage,
overall appeal, things to see and do, places to eat, customer service,
nightlife, retail shops and lodging. Brooks heads Destination Development
International Inc., a Seattle-based tourism consulting firm.
DDI has worked with more than 850 communities in 41 states and throughout
North America. We know what works and what doesnt,
said Durkin. We also offer suggestions things you can do
today, to make a difference tomorrow.
This is Brooks first visit to Oldham County. Its important
that we look at the community through the eyes of a first-time visitor,
said Durkin. His goal is to determine if a special trip from two or
three hours away is worth it for a tourist. He will offer suggestions
on how to make it (Oldham County) even better.
Kim Buckler, executive director of the Oldham County Tourism Commis-sion,
said, We have followed Roger for the last three years. She
first met Brooks during his assessment of Madison, Ind.
The Oldham County Tourism Commission is investing in a copy of the Findings
and Suggestions Report for each town visited. Buckler will meet with
each town at the conclusion of the workshop to develop a plan for each
one based on Brooks recommendations. Each town will attend a quarterly
meeting in the future to report on progress and plans, and devise ways
each individual town can be packaged as a tourist attraction.
Like a lot of other more rural communities in Kentucky, Oldham
County has a lot of activities that require three, four or five hours
of a tourists time, said Buckler. But we have very
little that would require them to spend the night.
The primary goal of the Tourism Commission is to promote overnight stays
in the county. Overnight stays are the only source of funding
for our Commission, she said.
The Oldham County Tourism Commission has spent the last three years
focusing on ways to develop attractions within the county. Buckler said,
Were still working diligently to add to our list of attractions.
She believes most people are familiar with the historic downtown La
Grange area and the Discover Downtown La Grange program led by Barbara
Edds. But Buckler pointed out several other attractions in Oldham County
that she feels would appeal to visitors. Two new ones that are open
for public tours are Bluebonnets and Bluegrass Alpaca Farm and Windy
Meadows Horse Farm.
Buckler said Foxhollow Farm is another great example of an attraction
in the re-making.
Known formerly as a spa and Bed & Breakfast, Foxhollow Farm now
focuses on organic farming. It has also added a nonprofit Farm Store
and a walking trail where every plant native to Oldham County is labeled.
Agri-tourism efforts such as those being implemented at Foxhollow Farm
are becoming a big business, according to Shane Best, Chairman of the
Tourism Commission. Oldham County is in the process of doing incredible
things, he said.
Best believes more than one attraction is needed that will appeal to
a variety of people. We need a collage of things for people to
do, revolving around entertainment.
Brooks was hired because we want to get input from someone not
so attached to the county, said Best. We want an objective
A nationally known attraction in the county is Yew Dell Gardens in Crestwood.
It is a botanical garden with more than 1,200 members and 250 volunteers.
The gardens serve as a major center of gardening, research and education
for the greater Louisville region, said Buckler. It is also a popular
venue for weddings and receptions.
Another attraction already established in Crestwood is Open Range Sports,
a state-of-the-art indoor pistol range and paintball facility. Buckler
said she has seen a rapid increase in visitors seeking out Bluegrass
Country Estate, a luxury Bed & Breakfast located in the equine community
Ginger Chapman, a member of the Tourism Commission, agrees with Buckler
that one of Oldham Counties biggest attractions is Main
Street and the CSX train that has regularly scheduled runs through downtown
Chapman, who is also on the Board of Directors for the Oldham County
Chamber of Commerce, said the Tourism Commission has printed a
tourist map that includes all the places to see and things to do in
Oldham County. We use it for trade shows and fairs, and they are available
on Main Street in La Grange.
She said it is important for the countys business owners to understand
what the Tourism Commission is trying to do by having Brooks visit Oldham
County. We are such a diverse county that we, the Commission,
were having a difficult time finding a brand to market ourselves with.
The Commission is made up of different representatives from businesses
and agencies that serve the county. With the help of Roger Brooks,
we hope to create a unity in our county marketing strategies,
We are always looking for those hidden gems within
our county, Buckler said, those that may not know they are
an attraction. Developing what we currently have is the key until we
start attracting new, larger tourist attractions and hotels.
A continental breakfast will be served
at the Findings & Suggestions Workshop. Contact Kim Buckler to make
a reservation at (502) 817-6043.
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