ROCK CAVE — The Upshur County Convention and Visitors Bureau is taking the lead on a project to add background music to enhance the downtown retail and event experience.
Laura Meadows, executive director of the CVB, told members of Southern Upshur Business Association Wednesday that the project may finally happen after several years.
“It’s been discussed for longer than six years to have an awesome sound system on Main Street that has the ability to play canned atmosphere music,” she said.
About a year ago, the CVB facilitated a conversation with the City of Buckhannon and Micrologic. Micrologic submitted a bid but the city did not have the funding to do it.
Through being frugal over the years, Meadows said the CVB has $25,000 it can put towards projects like this.
Micrologic renewed their bid and the quote came in at $27,500.
“It’s not just for sound,” she said. “This is pulling fiber through Main Street, so that fiber is going to have access to other projects in the City of Buckhannon.
“There are going to be four access points — one at the courthouse, one at the Chamber and Visitors Center and one at City Hall, and potentially one at Jawbone Park. “
“If you are having a special event, they can plug into that sound system and make an announcement, “ she said.
The sound system can broadcast holiday music, different genres at other times of the year, special announcements and emergencies.
“Strawberry Festival, Blast from the Past, Festival Fridays — any special event that is happening downtown can use this,” she said.
Meadows asked the Upshur County Commission for $2,500 for the project, which was approved on Thursday.
At Thursday’s Buckhannon City Council meeting, Meadows planned to ask the city about covering the cost of Jawbone Park, which will be $5,000 — that may be done at a later time.
Meadows is in her sixth year as executive director of the Upshur County Convention and Visitors Bureau, a job she still loves as much as her home state.
“I love West Virginia and I was that person who never wanted to leave,” she said. “I wanted to stay in the state because I saw the benefits we have.”
The CVB is mainly funded through the hotel motel tax in the county.
A 6 percent lodging fee is paid and collected by municipalities or county governments. State code details how this is collected and also how the money must be spent.
“You might not always see what we are doing,” she said. “I am not marketing to you, because you are not going to stay in a hotel [here].”
“We always promote Buckhannon and Upshur County outside of a 50-mile radius,” she added. “A lot of our promotions and campaigns cover the entire state of West Virginia. We also heavily focus on Pittsburgh, Columbus, Ohio, and the D.C. area every once in a while.
“The eastern panhandle sees more from D.C., but we get a little follow through from that,” she said.
When Meadows was developing a marketing campaign early on in her office, she polled people in the community about what they like about Upshur County.
The small town, charming atmosphere kept coming up in those answers, which led to the tag line, “What Small Town Charm is All About.”
After nearly six years, Meadows said she was tired of that campaign.
A brand new travel guide was printed two months ago, and Meadows is putting finishing touches on a new website that will launch soon.
“I was tired of the old tag line and the old layout, so it was time to freshen things up,” she said.
The new tagline is undergoing some tweaking but will most likely be “Small Town Getaway, Big Time Charm.”
Half of the 7,500 travel guides have been distributed to welcome centers around the state and are mailed out to people who request information.
“Our website is going to be absolutely amazing,” she said. “I am excited for it and I am excited for everything that Buckhannon is going to be able to throw out there.”
However, Meadows said social media marketing is a big part of the marketing progress.
“We are engaging with people definitely in Buckhannon, but again with people all over the country who have a connection to Buckhannon,” she said. “They have liked us on Facebook, but they like our communities. We are constantly astounded by the comments we get.”
Meadows is planning to do more on Instagram in the future.
“Facebook has evolved into an older demographic,” she said. “We are talking to people in their 40s, 50s and 60s on Facebook, and Instagram is really teenagers, 20s and early 30s. We want to hit all markets of people.”
Along with a push for Instagram, Meadows said the CVB is more aggressively promoting outdoor recreation in the county.
“I really think we have missed the mark in promoting the outdoor recreation aspect of our community,” she said.
A recent board member addition, Joey Baxa, is helping in that respect.
“We really want to push that out to the public that we have a lot of hiking trails, we have a lot of biking trails and kayaking is really big,” she said.
Meadows also said she will help new businesses starting out in the tourism industry with setting up social media and other marketing.
The Event Center at Brushy Fork is continuing to gain attention. Daytime events Monday-Friday are only $150 to rent the 7,000 square-foot space.
“It’s a huge value,” she said. “We are really trying to let people know that is an option. We get pennies off of that, but we are happy to get people in the facility and show what the potential is. We want people through the doors.”
And it is working, because the event center weekends are filling up, according to Meadows. The National Guard uses the facility one weekend a month, but the other three weekends in October are booked.
The Event Center at Brushy Fork will also be hosting several Christmas events.