Friday, October 30, 2015

Beginning of Fall

Fall is starting a little later this year than in years past. Probably because of the rain we've had off and on.  The summer wasn't as hot as past years--I don't think we got up to a hundred degrees more than a few days.  We haven't had a freeze yet, but we have gotten down to low 40's overnight a few times.  I'm still in the process of bringing plants into the house.  This coming weekend will be a busy weekend, cleaning house and working in the yard. 

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Update - October 2015

Oct. 7, 2015
Yesterday I spent the day in Woodward OK at the RED CARPET COUNTRY TOURISM CONFERENCE, and came home reignited and inspired.  I made a lot of contacts there.  And every one of the speakers reinforced and confirmed that we have the bones for what can be a fabulous tourist destination -- the state park, the winery, live music, two different bed & breakfasts, and historical spaces; the town leaders need to all work together to make good things happen.  Andy and I have tried to work with the Chamber of Commerce and have gotten nowhere, so all we can do is continue to push forward by ourselves.  We have lots of supporters but it is sad that the civic group that is charged with working to promote our town is not doing its job. The Chambers of Okeene, Canton, Geary, Seiling and Fairview all recognize the importance of promoting our area to bring in visitors and I am working with them also. 
The Cheese Festival is coming up this weekend and there are lots of frustrated people in town over the lack of communication and information and promotion of the event.  One thing that struck me at the tourism conference yesterday was the statement that our audience, the group that we, as a town, an event, a business, should be targeting are NOT the local population, but people from out of town, out of state.   Yet this year the Watonga Chamber didn't advertise with Travel OK, Red Carpet Country Tourism, Oklahoma Tourism, or any other statewide event guide.  I tried to get them to let me post the event on the tourism facebook page and Red Carpet Country website, but they weren't interested. They sent last year's rack cards for the Cheese Festival for us to distribute at the tourism conference, but no poster or up-to-date information on what's being featured at the Festival this year.  I can only tell people verbally what I know:  that there is going to be a Cheese Festival this year on Oct. 9-10. 

On the upside, the Rat Race seems to be well organized, and the cheese tasting and food contest are on track.  The Kiwanis is lined up to sell cheese on both days, at the Armory and in a building on Main Street.  But the Chamber lost their partnership with Race the Rail, which is a unique and well-attended event and a huge money-maker from the festival--that was $5 a head for over 200 registrants that the Chamber lost.  We will meet with the organizers of the Race to try and keep the bicycle event here in future years and hope for the best. 

Speaking of tourism, we received a call from the local Oklahoma tourism show, Discover Oklahoma, saying they would like to come out to the Chaparral Retreat and shoot some film for one of their episodes.  We are so excited -- this is what we've been working towards for a couple of years!!!  We have a full house this weekend, and next weekend we are hosting the 2014 Oklahoma poet laureate, Nathan Brown, for an Oklahoma House Concert.  The grounds of our place are lush right now and need to be thinned out just a little, but numerous things are still blooming.  Did I mention in an earlier post the Monarch butterfly migration?  I'll post photos..... in the meantime, here is what our building on Main Street looks like for the festival.  I was scraping off the old paint, but gave up on that since Andy is eventually going to tear out the entire front of the building and replace it in a different style.  It still looks trashy, but at least it doesn't look abandoned as it did before!!  Andy has been so busy with other projects that he hasn't had time to work on the outside of the building, but the inside has been gutted and he will start back to work on the inside after this weekend.  ENJOY THE TEXAS/OU GAME!!!