Friday, August 28, 2009

Sour grapes lead to sweet ideas

I’ve got to tell you, I’ve been a little grumpy at work lately. All my grousing to anyone within earshot was beginning to sound like sour grapes.

Then it dawned on me that I was approaching my 6-month mark at work and would be able to officially take my first vacation day. Thoughts of escaping for a long weekend with my sweetie perked me up considerably.

At Charlie’s suggestion we drove to the Missouri wine country and visited the wineries in and around Hermann, Mo. One of the funny things about being in the tourism business is even when you’re on vacation, you’re gathering ideas and thinking of ways to incorporate them into your job.

Here’s a few ideas that resulted from my vacation:

· Hermann had a staffed visitors center open – on a Saturday. We could really use a visitors center and a much more visible CVB office here in McPherson.

· When we ventured into St. Charles for dinner on Saturday night we were able to go to the historic downtown area and have dinner after 9 p.m. While this was a predominantly tourist retail area, it was still bustling with activity long after the shops closed.

· On our way home, we stopped at the Bourgeois Winery near Rocheport, Mo. This little town was full of unique stores and antique shops. I’m told its recent revival is largely thanks to the Katy Trail that runs along the Missouri River. Since returning home, I spoke with a representative of the Central Kansas Conservancy that is part of the Rails to Trails movement. Some exciting developments in connecting the trail from Marion to Herington are underway. Hopefully the stretch of the trail connecting McPherson to Lindsborg will be traversable soon and can help bring more visitors to town.

· The Stone Hill Winery in Hermann hosts a grape stomp competition every year, drawing in visitors from as far away as, well, McPherson, Kan. While the McPherson Main Street, McPherson Museum and Chamber of Commerce put on many events in McPherson, and volunteers coordinate our two biggest events – All Schools Day and the Scottish Festival – maybe businesses could host their own events. How about a Krehbiel’s/Cook’s Nook grilling competition? An Orscheln’s/Tractor Supply Co./Prairieland Partners harvest festival? A Neighbors CafĂ© cinnamon roll contest?

One other epiphany I had while sitting on the deck overlooking the Missouri River, nibbling cheese and sipping wine is that Catawba grapes make the best wine, according to my palette. No sour grapes on this little trip!

Ideas don’t go far if they’re just left on paper so it’s time to get back to work for me. Become a fan of Visit McPherson on Facebook and let me know your ideas!


4 Family Reunion, 11 rooms, Best Western

10-13 Wedding, 8 rooms, Best Western

16 HydroChem, 21 rooms, Best Western

17 KS Claims Association, 39 rooms, Best Western

17 Cenex, 60 rooms, Best Western

18-19 American Legion Auxiliary, 20 rooms, Best Western

18-20 Wedding, 30 rooms, Holiday Inn Express

22-24 KS Animal Control, 19 rooms, Best Western

25-27 Scottish Festival, 19 rooms, Best Western

25-27 Turlach UR Pipe Band, 12 rooms, Holiday Inn Express

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Community Building

I recently had a man stop by my office and ask me what the vision for McPherson is. By the pleased look on his face I could tell he felt he stumped me.
The problem with such an open-ended question as that is there are as many visions for the future of McPherson as there are people in McPherson.
Mr. X went on to tell me his vision for the community building -- he'd like to see a large post office/arena/office space.
Truth be told my vision for the future of the CVB has much to do with the future of the community building.
It's no secret the latest budget session left the city commission looking for areas to cut and one place it looked was the community building. The two part-time staff members were cut with one going to work for the park department and the other retiring. The building is now "closed" but is still available for rent.
Earlier this year, the commission looked at using a half-percent sales tax to raise money to renovate the community building. Then the Opera House line-jumped and got the half-percent sales tax to complete the auditorium and the commission pulled the community building question off the ballot. I'm tickled pink the Opera House has found the funds to finish its renovation, but I hope no one forgets about the community building which has an interesting history of its own.
I've been churning over ideas in my head about ways to use the building and the one I keep coming back to is for it to be a visitors center.
I've stopped at the visitors center in Lawrence which is in a rehabilitated train station. The LVC has a large room that is available for rental for meetings and other functions in one end and visitor center with information from all across Kansas in the other end. The building is beautiful and the grounds around it are gorgeous.
The community building in McPherson serves an important function as a place for the annual Community Thanksgiving and Christmas Dinners. The annual book sales, train shows and plant sales are all held there plus many more community events.
I would love to see the basketball court area used as a visitor center and Globe Refiners Museum and the auditorium turned into space that could be rented for public functions or basketball games. If my offices were located there I could pursue bringing in home and garden shows, family movie nights during the winter, and a variety of other activities geared at bringing visitors to town as well as improve the quality of life for McPherson residents.
There does not appear to be any immediate plans to tear down the building or renovate it so I think I will continue to let my plans churn over in my head, dropping suggestions, seeking input. Send me yours at