Thursday, August 16, 2012

Fun Times in Fort Payne by John Dersham

If you have not been to our newly formed third Saturday Sunset in Fort Payne you are missing a lot and you should come this Saturday. Third Saturday is a creation of the Fort Payne Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown Merchants Association. The event lasts from 5-9 pm and includes fun for the whole family.  You will find outdoor games for the kids, live music, food, an antique car show and lots of shopping at our downtown merchants. This will be the third, third Saturday event. The first two were big successes with   downtown full of smiling faces from 1st street to 5th. It is nice to see all the friends gathering for conversation. This event has been a wonderful way for people to enjoy their community and to get together with people on a more regular basis. You get a real sense of community pride when you go to this event. The city administration, police and fire departments along with Parks and Recreation provide a clean and safe and enjoyable place for us to gather. Look at our squeakily clean city parks, mowed, trimmed and beautiful. My wife and I commented as we were walking around last time how good it feels to have an event like this that brings everyone together and provides such a complete evening of family entertainment and community spirit.
Now that we’ve discussed Third Saturday get ready for our biggest third Saturday event called the Fort Payne Boom Days Heritage Festival which kicks off on Saturday September 8th and concludes on our third Saturday September 15th. Boom Days is going to be greater than ever this year with more sponsors, more activities, more artists and more music than ever before. The kickoff is on September 8th and spotlights a local singer songwriter of national acclaim in Pierce Pettis and Family including Pierce, Grace and George. This will be at the DeKalb Theater at 8:00 pm, don’t miss it. On Sunday the 9th we will have the Joe Underwood Gospel Singing at the City Auditorium. It will start at 3:00 pm.  The next event that week is on Thursday and will include the Mayor’s Cup Golf Tournament at DeSoto Golf Course and the annual Willstown Conference at the City Auditorium at 7:00 pm.
For more information about Boom Days and the schedule it will be coming soon in the Times Journal and will be posted on our website at . See you downtown.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

World's Longest Yard Sale by John Dersham

The 25th anniversary of the World’s Longest Yard Sale (WLYS) is underway. Some vendors began setting up more than a week ago even though officially the WLYS began yesterday. I say that because many people started setting up as early as last Friday. This event has been growing each year in size, scope and number of miles. It is now up to around 690 miles long from Gadsden, Alabama to Hudson, Michigan.
We consider the DeKalb portion of the yard sale among the best along the way. It has been a strategy of ours at DeKalb Tourism to promote this even not only as a yard sale but as a vacation. Now that school starts several weeks after the yard sale ends it helps us make it more of a family attractive event. Last year many schools in Alabama were starting in the middle of the yard sale or the Monday following the yard sale. This was not conducive to family travel since most families are preparing for school the entire week prior to its annual beginning.
DeKalb Tourism has always played a major role as one of the official voices in the yard sale. We are listed on the official WLYS website as an official contact and we promote the event heavily on our website, on the Lookout Mountain Parkway website and on social media for both. We promote it all year at our information center with brochures and we promote at the trade shows we attend. This year we have attended four major tourism trade shows all of which the WLYS is actively promoted. At these travel shows we are given an opportunity to interact directly with people who are making their travel plans. This gives us a great opportunity to sell our area as a great WLYS destination but also a great place to make a scenic fun vacation.
Due to the fact our WLYS is entirely on The Lookout Mountain Scenic Parkway in our area it has allowed us to talk about taking a scenic drive on a nationally acclaimed drive and enjoying our state and National Park along the way. We also encourage people to spend the night at one of our hotels in Fort Payne or a B&B or cabin on the mountain. We get a lot of campground business for this event too. Since the WLYS is often hot we route people toward our restaurants to cool off and some people ask about lodging with swimming pools. DeKalb Tourism has done a good job of capitalizing on this event and making it a destination instead of a stop along the yard sale.
The World’s Longest Yard Sale draws more out of town guests to our county than any other single event held during the year.  I know if you live on Lookout Mountain the yard sale may be a hardship to get around in for the four day event, but it brings in a whole lot of tax revenue which helps us pay for some of the city and county services that we all love to have. We appreciate your patience and we wish you the best if you are participating in the WLYS.