The saying goes, “Don’t reinvent the wheel.” Meaning, it’s OK to borrow someone else’s idea, but “realign it” or put your own spin on it to take ownership of it and make it better.
As a newly formed group is in its infancy in Elkin, one of the goals is to find events, activities and other attractions to draw both locals and visitors to downtown by making it the place to be in the region. The idea of forming the group is that of newly-elected Mayor Sam Bishop.
The group, which doesn’t yet have a name, first met last week, and brainstormed ideas the members have of events and attractions that could draw a crowd, whether large or small, to the historic commercial district of town. They also discussed visiting other towns in the state and just beyond to see what is making them successful in attracting visitors — places like Floyd, Virginia, Morganton, the Pilot Mountain cruise-ins and more.
In a day and age where smart technology and online social media dominate many people’s lives, activities like live music, festivals, celebrations, art shows and other community gatherings help keep us grounded and connected “live and in person” to our neighbors and the businesses in our area. They help support the economic base for where we live and help us thrive.
Yes, there are other organizations who sponsor similar events, such as the Yadkin Valley Chamber of Commerce’s wine and pumpkin festivals, the Downtown Elkin Inc.’s annual Christmas parade and cruise-ins, the Yadkin Valley Rotary and Elkin Valley Trails Association’s events, and several others. While those events do bring the community together, typically there is an underlying goal such as raising funds for the specific sponsoring organization or one of its projects.
This newly formed group, it seems, takes stockholders from a cross section of the Elkin business and residential communities into one organizational effort to design entertainment and gathering opportunities that will benefit the entire area.
One of the overriding goals is providing more frequent chances for people to get together and experience Elkin as a destination, so that when a visitor is in town, there is always something happening to take part in, or when a local has a free night to go out, there are options on where to go and things to do.
These proposed events could be the key that sets Elkin apart from other towns and destinations in the region. It could be the highlight of someone’s trip to the Yadkin Valley, beyond visiting wineries and breweries, and paddling the river and hiking the trails. We have those things already, but other offerings will attract people to stay around town longer than a one-day visit, which means economic benefits as they shop, eat, lodge and travel locally.
As events are held more often, it will spark a need for other services, other retail locations, other entrepreneurs to venture into a world of catering to visitors’ and locals’ needs. It will be a chance for young and old to own businesses and have jobs without needing to move out of the area, or for students to return home for work rather than staying in a larger metropolitan area.
It might take a while to grow and market the events, find Elkin’s niche and draw in visitors and locals. There may be trials and errors, but a long-term investment in the community is needed to ensure it continues to thrive and grow. The work of this group will be an essential piece of the puzzle, likely the centerpiece that connects the other elements, keeping Elkin a relevant, happening destination for years to come.
Kudos to Mayor Bishop for developing this group and bringing these people together. I look forward to seeing what ideas they bring to the table, and how successful they can be.
Wendy Byerly Wood is the editor of The Tribune and The Yadkin Ripple. She can be reached at [email protected], 336-258-4035 or on Twitter @wendywoodeditor.