This week I had the privilege of wandering around my town. I explored the beach with my sister, enjoyed the Alive After Five wine walk with my husband and sister, and assisted a ballet photo shoot on the beach. It was while we waited for the family of dancers to arrive at the beach, that I realized where I live is a place that tourists want to come. You would think the forty-three different states and four Canadian provinces represented in license plates last summer would have told me that. Instead, it was listening to a group of people sitting around a fire in the back yard of a rental house that made the impact. Listening to their laughter and indistinct chatter caused me to understand the wonderful opportunity I have. I can enjoy the beach on any free day.
I’ve often had my students create a brochure of their town as if it would go to the visitor’s center for Spanish speaking people who come through. Maybe one of these days, I’ll make the assignment actually get published for the visitor’s center. However, I’ve heard the complaints. “We don’t have anything special here.” “What’s the big deal about our town?” I can understand.
We get lost in what we know. The everyday loses its appeal. But every town has something special.
Here are some things to consider.
Sure, not every town is going to have the beach, but every town will have something! I can just hear you say, “But I live in Iowa!”(Now, I have nothing against anyone who lives in Iowa, I was born there.) My answer is simple, you have a river, farms, lakes, bluffs, woods, hills, or something of interest. Rivers, creeks, and lakes are awesome for swimming, fishing, kayaking, or boating. Farms are wonderful for produce in the summer and fall. Around here, it’s blueberries in the summer, cranberries in the fall, and lambs in the spring. We can go and pick blueberries and make blueberry smoothies, muffins, or just eat them fresh and whole. Someone who has never seen a cranberry harvest is intrigued with why the fields are flooded and what the red stuff floating around is. Meanwhile, locals around here find the harvest as boring or mundane, and sheep? Don’t even go there!
Even some of the smallest towns have museums or other historical places. The town to the north of us which boasts a total of 3,000 people has a small museum. Then south of us we have a the Hughes House, a historical house built by one of the first families to settle in the area. Further south, the Coast Guard has a museum. These little museums are wonderful places to explore and learn about the area. When my husband and I went to Willow Creek, California, we explored the local museum on big foot. If you visit Bandon, Oregon’s museum, you’ll learn about a fire that raged through the town in the early 1900’s.
Points of Interest
Even if you don’t have a museum, your area has to have something that makes it special, whether it’s a festival, special restaurants, specialty stores, marketplaces, or library events. All of these are things that draw people to your town. Cranberry Festival and the 4th of July are the big events in our area. Both boast parades complete with candy throwing and bands. From there, other events take over that draw people in from all around. As for restaurants, who wouldn’t be curious about a food establishment called “The Greasy Spoon”? Over the last year, they’ve change the name just to “The Spoon”, but I can’t count how many people have stopped to take a picture of the old sign.
What makes your town or area special? Have you taken it for granted? Look around and consider. What draws people to your area? Let me know. I love traveling and gaining ideas for towns for my books. After all, Boeskay featured in Dragon’s Heir and Dragon’s Cure was inspired by my summer years in the Mississippi River valley of Muscatine, Iowa.