Tourism is about more than marketing. It is also about protecting and enhancing the product we are trying to promote. Citizens, elected officials and developers alike can take a leadership role in creating a responsible tourism agenda that will strengthen Oak Grove's economy, while at the same time preserving the natural and cultural assets that make us unique.
Responsible tourism requires planning and management. If you design a community around cars, you'll get more cars, but if you design a community around people, you'll get more visitors. It is hard to spend money when you are in a car, so getting people out of their cars is a key to responsible tourism and increased business.
Tourists need places to eat and sleep. Wherever they go, they crave integrity of the place they are visiting. Our community needs to ask this question: Do you want the character of our community to shape new development? Or do you want new development to shape the character of our community?
First impressions matter. The more a community does to enhance its uniqueness, the more people will want to visit.
The best marketing a community can have is word of mouth. This occurs when the reality of the place meets or exceeds the mental image that visitors have been sold through marketing and promotion.
Tourism provides communities with many benefits: new jobs, enhanced infrastructure, improved facilities and an expanded market for local products.
Tourism attracts visitors
Tourism isn't important just to the individual community. When people visit a place, they look around to see what else is going on in the area. They look for free family fun activities like our international award-winning festivals, the Spring into Summer Festival Salutes Fort Campbell and the Butterfly Festival, or an attraction that has history. Whatever it may be, it needs to have interest so visitors will revisit and spread their excitement about that community when they return home.
The War Memorial Walking Trail Park has a beauty of its own. It is known as Oak Grove's little treasure!
The Walking Trail was completed in 2002, and in 2008, the Viceroy Performing Arts Center was built and named after the Kentucky state insect, the viceroy butterfly.
The entire building is 3,457 square feet with the stage covering 1,946 square feet. Behind the stage, there is a full kitchen, two dressing rooms and restrooms for performers and crew.
Visitors want information about what they are seeing. Interpretation can be a powerful storytelling tool, and the War Memorial Walking Trail Park is exactly that.
The Oak Grove Schoolhouse, built between 1883-1900 was brought to the grounds of the Walking Trail in 2008, restored with historical accuracy, and serves as a small museum.
The Veteran Picnic Pavilion, completed in 2008, is an 1,800-square-foot covered cedar structure with 14 picnic tables, three charcoal grills and is ADA-accessible. Victory Playground, completed in 2009, is appropriate for 5- to 12-year-olds, and is also ADA-accessible.
Completed in 2009, the Viceroy Butterfly Garden and the 18-hole disc golf course were great additions to the park. The butterfly garden spans about 3 acres with absolutely the most beautiful flowers and butterflies you will ever see.
The disc golf course is an intermediate course and is home to several tournaments. Last, but certainly not least, the Valor Hall Conference and Event Center was completed in 2011 and is unique to the area. It sits in a beautiful park which compliments its warm and elegant interior.
Tourist-friendly and business-friendly
Mayor Bea Burt would like you to know that the city of Oak Grove has recently reduced fees to aid commercial and residential contractors in bringing homes and businesses into our beautiful city. The city is working hard to be more business-friendly to promote growth in Oak Grove. For more information on building and planning, please contact Oak Grove City Planner Misty Cutshall at 270-439-5979 or Oak Grove City Clerk Theresa Jarvis at 270-439-4646.
Traci Cunningham is the executive director of the Oak Grove Tourism and Convention Commission. She can be reached at 270-439-5675 or at director@visitoak groveky.com.