In small town tourism, play to your strength; use what you’ve got.
Avard, Oklahoma, is celebrating their centennial at their annual Folk Festival. They are a tiny town, practically a ghost town. They play up their cowboy heritage at this event with a dutch oven cook off, a quilt show, western musicians and much more. Did I mention they only have 12 people in the town of Avard? Twelve! And they do this every year. I’ve helped them a couple of times to apply for Oklahoma Arts Council Grants as they grew the event. This year, they’ve added that website.
How could we reach more potential visitors for Avard? How about:
- Use the Google AdWords grant program to place some pay-per-click ads at no cost.
- Spend some advertising funds on Facebook local ads. These can be amazingly affordable.
- Call a few people from previous years. See if you can find some photos to use on your own site or upload to Flickr, especially to the Oklahoma Travel groups.
- Send a personal invitation to the local Oklahoma bloggers, like Blog Oklahoma and Okie Legacy to attend this year.
- Take a ton of video and photos at this year’s event, and get it posted all over online.
(I love brainstorming this stuff.)
So here’s the discussion question:
What is your favorite home town event?
This can be your own, or the Eufaula Okra Fest, as long as it builds on a home town strength. Tell us what makes it great and how you’d bring in more people.
Special Note for Woods County Locals:
Don’t miss the archeology and western art event in Freedom this Sunday, Aug. 30, 2009, 2-4 pm.
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In McMinnville, Oregon we have the Alien Days Parade. It is to commemorate an alien sighting on a farm many years ago. Many of the businesses in town make silly floats around the alien theme. It draws a huge crowd! http://www.ufofest.com/ufofest07/
The crowd on the street dresses in alien garb or they put aluminum foil on their heads,etc.
You never know what you’ll see… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0l7acov52OA
Becky you are invited next year in May.
Becky – how about inviting some of those Oklahoma bloggers to judge the dutch oven cook-off? Make them part of the action and give them even more of a reason to blog about it….
Becky McCray says
Bruce/PartyWeDo, talk about using what you’ve got! The crowd is probably pretty savvy and will help spread the word. In fact, I see that the website features the Flickr feed. Great example!
Erika, excellent point: don’t just invite, involve!
Becky McCray says
@kristindegroat added on Twitter:
“We have an awesome Dance Parade in NYC, take lots of photos and tag, tag, tag on FB”
And she’s right: uploading and tagging photos on Facebook is a terrific way to connect with local folks, whether you’re in New York City or Ponca City.
I’m so happy to see a successful tourism example from a (very) small town. I often hear, “We can’t do THAT. We’re not Dallas/fill-in-the-blank large city.” This should lend an encouraging example to all the naysayers out there. Well done, Avard OK!
Meilee Anderson says
This was a terrific blog entry. Thanks for the suggestions. To answer your question I have a few favorites: in alphabetical order:
Des Moines, WA has an annual contest for Strongmen competitors called “Washington’s Strongest Apple” it’s fabulous! Link is to a local blog that covered the event: http://tinyurl.com/nt2zok
Kent, WA has Cornucopia Days. Think Farmers Market, street fair, concerts, and a plethora of community involvement: http://www.kcdays.com
SeaTac, WA has an annual International Festival which features different cultural performances. I enjoy the outdoor festival and especially like seeing the different communities come together. http://tinyurl.com/nqab6v
Tukwila, WA has an annual Backyard Wildlife Festival http://www.backyardwildlifefair.org. This festival has an Indie Rock Band perform a short concert, guest speakers, a series of vendors with related products. The interesting thing about this event is that my entire family enjoys attending each year. There’s something to entertain my hubby and I and both of our kids ages 10 and 2. I really like this event.
You gave me some ideas for next year I’ll share with some of the committees for the different events I mentioned. Enjoy reading your blog! Thanks for sharing.
Becky McCray says
Sarah, I hope you can use this example to get results!
Meilee, outstanding list! Lots of ideas there that other communities could latch on to. Thanks!
Allyson Summers says
Great ideas for small business owners and communities to get involved. In my hometown we have events called Downtown days, local shops, restaurants and musicians get together to put on the event. Each group works together promoting each other so that everyone benefits. Love the idea of putting photos up from the previous year, I’ll have to pass that on!
Becky McCray says
Allyson, I love this story of working together. That can be a small town strength, or our downfall.