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Nebraska Heritage Highway Association Meets in FairburyNebraska Heritage Highway Association Meets In Fairbury

October 2011 - Tourism promoters along Nebraska’s Heritage Highway 136 gathered in Fairbury on Monday, October 17, 2011 at Gallery 413 in historic downtown Fairbury. Fairbury’s newest art gallery, located on the north side of the square provided a unique backdrop for the business meeting and catered lunch by Fairbury.com and Fairbury Foods.

Twelve attendees representing communities, attractions and the Nebraska Department of Tourism were on hand to solidify tourism marketing initiatives and events for 2012. Discussions covered a wide range of topics including regional event planning and grant proposals. “Providing additional tools to promote attractions in the region is one of the short-term goals on the agenda for the upcoming year,” according to Heritage Highway President, Ashley Olson, Willa Cather Foundation, Red Cloud. “Proposed events will have a big impact on tourism in the region, which is emerging as one of the strongest economic development tools that communities along the Byway can use to bring visitors and new dollars into their communities”, added Olson.

Members of the Heritage Highway 136 committee were given a preview of the new Heritage Highway website, which is currently undergoing a complete redesign. Lena Stewart, multimedia designer from Main Street Consulting Group in Fairbury gave attendees a virtual tour of the new website in progress, slated for launch on March 1, 2012. “This website will highlight each community along the Byway and will be an invaluable tool in helping to promote tourism in the region,” said Stewart. “The website will have global reach and will open up opportunities to market to tourists, particularly in Europe, who may have ties to immigrants who settled in this region,” she added.

A byway-long flea market event has been established for 2012. The “Trail of Treasures Along Nebraska’s Heritage Highway 136” will be an event that will bring thousands of visitors to communities along Highway 136 in search of bargains and is scheduled for Columbus Day Weekend, October 6 & 7, 2012. “Volunteer coordinators in each community will be called upon to help with this very large event. We have seen the positive impact that events like this have had in other regions of the state, such as the Junk Jaunt along Highway 20 and we hope to bring visitors and economic opportunities to the communities along Highway 136,” according to Julie Katz of Fairbury, coordinator of the event.

A “Passport” program is also in the works for 2012. Berwyn Jones of the Welsh Heritage Center in Wymore gave a presentation and provided a sample passport featuring attractions along Highway 136 which will be printed and distributed next spring. Visitors to featured attractions along the Byway will be able to get their passports stamped, then completed passports will be eligible for prizes. “The program, patterned after other successful programs in other regions, will give attractions along Highway 136 additional opportunities for increased traffic beginning next season”, according to Jones. A tourism marketing grant will be submitted in the coming months to assist with the marketing of this project.

Yvonne Dalluge of the Pawnee County Promotional Network and owner of My Blue Heaven Bed & Breakfast reported on the development of FAMiliarization tours featuring a series of localized tours of attractions in several communities, slated for spring and summer of 2012. “The idea of the tours is to give locals the opportunity to learn about the interesting places and things to do in their own backyards, then provide opportunities for them to do the same in neighboring communities”, according to Dalluge. Small guided tours utilizing handi-buses and motor pools are planned in several communities in Pawnee, Nemaha, Jefferson counties. Additional tours and communities will be finalized by December and marketed aggressively in the spring.

Heritage Higwhay Coordinator and Nebraska Department of Tourism liason, Twyla WittByway Coordinator and Nebraska Department of Tourism liaison Twyla Witt reported on upcoming trade show events which will provide members of the Heritage Highway Association opportunities to market the Byway in neighboring states. Witt was honored for her 15 years of service with a reception immediately following the regular business meeting of the Heritage Highway Association. Vince Miller, professional musician and owner of Fairbury’s Gallery 413 entertained the group with live jazz music and a cake in shape of a suitcase by Cakes & Stuff by Carlee of Fairbury was served.

Association members will be attending the Nebraska Travel Council this week in Omaha to network with other tourism professionals, discuss tourism legislation and marketing plans. The newly-published Highway 136 Byway Guide, a visitors guide featuring communities and attractions along Highway 136 has been nominated for the Outstanding Tourism Publication award. Winners of this year’s awards will be unveiled at the awards banquet held at the end of the conference. Copies of the guide are available at attractions, chambers of commerce and CVBs all along the Byway.

Nebraska’s Heritage Highway is a 238-mile stretch of Nebraska Highway 136 extending from historic Brownville along the banks of the Missouri River westward to Edison.  The Heritage Highway was designated a state scenic byway by Governor Mike Johanns in 1999, one of nine scenic byways in the state of Nebraska.

For more information about Nebraska’s Heritage Highway and its programs and activities, contact Ashley Olson at 866-731-7304 or aolson@willacather.org

 
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