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Carrollton tourism officials
shuffle 2003 events lineup

Carroll County adds new events for coming year

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

CARROLLTON, Ky. – (March 2003) With its state resort park, nine hotels, several bed and breakfasts, water-related events, all complemented by its historical background, Carroll County has a lot to offer tourists. In an effort to remain visible, the Carrollton-Carroll County Tourism and Convention Commission is revamping established events and adding new ones to their list for 2003.

Bagpipe Players

Scottish bagpipe players in Carrollton.

After taking into consideration complaints, praises and suggestions, the tourism board has produced a calendar of events that “appeals to all ages,” said executive director Robin Caldwell. The object of the tourism board is not to just have events or tourist activities for visitors when they come to town but to persuade these tourists to return home and “tell all of their friends about Carrollton,” she said.
Events in the county generally take place at Point Park, Gen. Butler State Resort Park and the Carroll County Fairgrounds. One major event at Point Park is the Blues to the Point Festival. This festival, as well as many others, involves the community by depending heavily upon the support of dedicated volunteers.
Organizer Doug Ramsey said 65 to 70 volunteers help make this Blues festival a success every year. Some concern had been expressed in January that the festival would not take place this year, but Ramsey assured that it would continue.
Due to personal reasons, Ramsey recently resigned from the tourism board, but he said plans were already in the works for this year’s Blues to the Point.
Although last year’s turnout was disappointing, Ramsey said outdoor events like this one are contingent upon the weather and the fact that last year people were timid about gathering in public places due to the Sept. 11 tragedy. Blues to the Point is scheduled for Sept. 5-6 this year.
Tourism board member Charlie Webster said the cancellation of an event like Blues to the Point would have an adverse effect upon tourism in Carrollton. “To fill hotels is our mission. This new date is so good for our hotels.”
He added that tourism traffic slows somewhat after the Labor Day holiday. “The blues festival has a positive impact on tourism.”
The “Back to the Past for the Future” bluegrass and gospel bash debuted last October at the Carroll County Fairgrounds. Chuck Webster, one of three main organizers, said the date had been changed to July 11-12 this year to “get away from the cold weather and rain that we had last year.”
Festival organizers are also considering a smaller venue, such as Point Park, for this year. Last year’s event was too spread out over the fairgrounds, he said. People had to walk too far to the concession stands and restrooms, said Webster.
More regional talent is being sought for the 2003 festival. Organizers are focusing on national headliners for Friday and Saturday shows.
“Seventy-five to eighty percent of the crowd were out-of-towners,” Chuck Webster said. “We’d like to get the locals more involved.”
Few locals attended the Music in the Park series held over the summer months on the lawn of the Butler-Turpin House at Gen. Butler State Resort Park, said Caldwell. With 200 to 300 people at each of the eight free concerts, the series accomplished its goal of “upgrading the awareness of the park,” said Caldwell.
With such encouraging beginnings, the series will return with six evening performances showcasing an eclectic mix of jazz, Celtic and bluegrass music and wine by River Valley Winery of Carrollton.
Another new event, Heritage Saturday, will take place in the afternoons of these same six days at the historic Masterson House. Primitive skills such as spinning, basket weaving and lie soap making will be demonstrated, and tours will be given of the circa 1790s home.
Wine tasting may be offered in the cellar of the home. The board is considering approaching local wineries to take turns at offering their products. Throughout the summer, the Farmer’s Market sets up from 8 a.m. to noon at Butler Park, and Caldwell said she would like to see the vendors pack up and move to the Masterson House to continue selling their products throughout the afternoon.
Butler Park manager Steven Jones said there is no doubt that the park “acts as a recreational draw.” Jones would prefer to see the park’s conference center attract more industry and corporate groups for meetings and enjoy all the park has to offer while there.
The park will continue to provide “the things folks expect from the park,” said Jones. To improve its overall physical appearance, park staff will continue to replant trees and bring in indigenous plants. Jones also hopes the now desolate Butler Ski Lodge will be removed and a better use of greenspace implemented to perk up that area of the park.
June 21 has been set aside as Kentucky National Guard Day. Last year was the first time for this event, which honored Kentucky’s first Adjunct General, Percival Pierce Butler. Special tours of the Butler-Turpin House, family cemetery and the Kentucky Veterans Memorial, plus displays of military exhibits and demonstrations, and living history interpretations are scheduled.
Butler Family History Day will remember the founding family of Carrollton on Oct. 24-25. This day will be a “celebration of everything that’s Butler,” said Caldwell.
Celtic music, the families’ Irish heritage, the building of the park by the Conservation Civilian Corp, and living history interpreters dressed in vintage clothing from all wars in which the Butler family participated are just some of the activities scheduled for this event.
When it comes to planning an event, Caldwell said the city is “so tourism-friendly.” The city owns Point Park and Mayor Ann Deatherage said it generally does not charge nonprofit groups to hold events there.
Deatherage said that the county benefits from events held there and elsewhere in the county. “We always want people to come to Carrollton,” she said.
One of her main concerns is how to keep tourists downtown after they arrive in the area. She said that in a recent program presented by the Carroll County Community Development Corp it was pointed out that Carrollton was above the state average for tourism and retail sales.
The board does its part in encouraging new and existing events. Many organizations don’t have tol free telephone numbers, websites or email, said Caldwell. “We act as an information gathering spot. Through advertising and mailing we help them get the word out about their events.”
Caldwell said she sends press releases to many different media types within driving distance. “When I advertise an event, readers see I’m advertising Carroll County and, in turn, helping that festival.”
In February alone, Caldwell said 600 welcome packets were sent out. These packets contain a personal letter, Carroll County brochures and calendar of events. If placed in a corporate meeting room, everyone in attendance receives a personal invitation to visit Carroll County and enjoy its amenities.

• For more information about Carroll County events and attractions, visit the tourism board’s website at: www.carrollcountyky.com. Or call 1-800-325-4290.

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