BUCKHANNON – Buckhannon’s quaint downtown has always been a draw for tourists across the region, but the executive director of the Upshur County Convention and Visitors Bureau says she’s also making a concerted effort to advertise the county’s outdoor offerings.
Laura Meadows told Buckhannon City Council at its most recent meeting that she wants to partner with outdoors enthusiasts – such as Upshur County Trails, the groups that’s developed a 5-mile trail system behind near Buckhannon-Upshur High School – to highlight the recreational opportunities the county offers, including hiking, biking, kayaking and more.
“We’ve focused on river access and trail access,” Meadows said, delivering her annual report to the city at its July 2 meeting. “We’re really trying to partner with those people and show that it is here in Upshur County, it is being developed more and more, and I think in five to 10 years, the outdoor recreation is going to be that much bigger than what it is right now. I think we’re really going to see a lot of things happen.”
The organization’s mission is to promote and support tourism in Upshur County and the surrounding area, and Meadows said the UCCVB’s recently updated tagline – “Small Town Getaway, Big Time Charm” – reflects that mission.
“As we transitioned into this fiscal year, we had kind of really overhauled our creative messaging tagline. When the organization first started, we stuck with the tagline, ‘What Small-town Charm is all About,’ and it really stuck and it really connected with Buckhannon.”
“But we needed to freshen up our messaging a little bit, so we transitioned into this, ‘Small Town Getaway, Big Time Charm’ tagline and it’s been really successful,” Meadows added. “People know us for our Main Street. They know us for our flowers, for the shops, for the restaurants, but there’s so much more other than our Main Street, and this tagline really helps us do that.”
Over the 2018-2019 fiscal year, Meadows said the CVB, which manages the Event Center at Brushy Fork, saw an uptick in rental revenue.
“One of our goals was to increase our rental revenue, and we were able to achieve that,” she said. “We exceeded it by $3,000, so for us, that was a huge deal. Going into [managing] the Event Center, we knew we were never going to turn a profit on it … it was never going to be a moneymaker, but when we can at least cover expenses, it’s a really great year, and we’ve been able to do that the past two years.”
Already, every weekend in September and October is booked, she added, saying the CVB and event center manager Sean Harris have had to turn people away.
“We got the Shriners back this year, so that was a really big deal,” Meadows said. “Sean did a lot of talking and working and talking and working, and we’re really pleased to have them back this year.”
In other CVB news, Meadows said the organization’s recently made-over website – www.visitupshur.org or www.visitbuckhannon.org – has seen a “drastic increase” of 45 percent with 26,954 visits over the fiscal year.
Meadows said the CVB is currently on the lookout for photographs of the area to freshen up its website, advertisements and brochures.
“We don’t have any major projects coming up for this year,” she said. “We’re working on getting new photos and perfecting our social media presence.”
City recorder Randy Sanders asked Meadows to estimate how many hotel and motel rooms are available in the city and in the county.
Meadows said about 230 traditional lodging rooms are located in city limits.
“All the traditional lodging facilities are in the city limits, and there are rental-by-owner and airbnbs in the county,” she said.