By Stephen Smoot
With a string of successes this year in the rearview mirror, the Pendleton County Convention and Visitors Bureau discussed upcoming events and ways to build on the foundation created.
The team opened with committee reports.
Amber Nesselrodt, executive director, congratulated the grants committee on securing a near $4,000 planning grant from the Appalachian Forest National Heritage Area organization. She said, “This is the first grant the CVB has received. A big thank you to everyone on the grants committee.”
She then turned to the marketing committee, starting first with the short term. “The biggest thing the marketing committee is looking at right now is the Capitol Christmas Tree at Swilled Dog.” The tree, during its tour of West Virginia, will stop between 2 and 4 p.m. on Nov. 12 at the Pendleton County Industrial Park.
The CVB has started work to build the visit into a major community event that includes Mike Eye performing live music, “vendors . . .set up through the farmers market,” and other family friendly opportunities for sales and attractions. Deans Gap Farms has already signed up. Food sales must meet the same criteria as the farmers market, including consumables grown within 100 miles. Nesselrodt said, however, that alcohol sales would be problematic to approve.
Jeff Munn pointed out that maple products, always high on the list of county promotions, should sell well at a Christmas themed event. Lindsay Kazarick, board chair and representative of Future Generations University, shared that FGU’s fun and educational “Noble Sugar Shack” would also be present.
Committee members agreed to place one of the marketing focuses for the visit on nearby counties that will not be visited by the tree, including Rockingham and Highland in Virginia.
Nesselrodt added that “we need someone to dress up as Santa,” and “we will have a whole group meeting to talk about the nitty-gritty details.”
Additionally, the U.S. Forest Service announced that the tree has been granted the Shawnee name “wa’feem’tekwi” which means “bright tree.”
She then turned to discussing the possibility of decorative signage on major highways at the county lines, telling the board, “It’s something that we just started talking about.” The point was raised that there could be difficulty working with the state department of highways or the national forest.
Munn responded that he had personally found the DOH easy to work with when he requested Tourism Oriented Directional Signs directing travelers from U.S. Route 220 toward his establishment, but had no idea about the National Forest. Others noted that the state retains the rights-of-way along roads, even in forest land.
Next, the board discussed recently created promotional materials. The full scale Adventure Guide’s final draft is ready with the goal of publishing by late December in plenty of time for Maple Days in February.
More discussion centered around the final draft of the promotional video created for the CVB by Folkways. Nesselrodt said that edits were still possible even at this late stage, but that the board could also consider creating more targeted videos by using the raw footage that Folkways will make available for CVB use.
The main question going forward, as Nesselrodt put it, lies in “where will we use the tools for our particular marketing push.”
Then, board members switched gears and discussed the creation of an advisory board. Members approved the appointment of Chelsea Simmons from Pendleton Community Bank for her expertise on year-end financial matters. They also chose to defer discussion of other appointees until creating more specific guidelines about participation.
Board members then engaged in a free discussion of various issues of importance. Janice Lantz proposed creating a stronger partnership between the CVB and the Pendleton County Chamber of Commerce. She also asked if the CVB could hand out mini-grants similar to the practice of the Grant County Chamber of Commerce.
Various board members responded in support of enhanced cooperation. Kazarick related that the economic development authority in the past had handed out grants as Lantz described, then suggested that the CVB, Chamber, and EDA combine on such a program.
Munn returned to the theme of DOH tourism signage, noting that they provide the signs for $275 a piece, and also charge a $100 fee to replace stolen signs the first time. He stated that many businesses could take advantage, but that the CVB could provide some level of match for those seeking to have them put up.
The next meeting of the CVB will take place on Oct. 17.