Berea Tourism Commission reviews two new ideas for attracting visitors

Berea College Forester Clint Patterson revealed a proposal for a forestry festival for the fall of 2020, an event that would take advantage of the region’s vibrant autumn colors and natural beauty. 

At a time when Berea officials are strategizing to expand the city’s appeal for travelers, news of two more possible attractions were raised at the recent meeting of the Berea Tourism Commission.

Berea College Forester Clint Patterson presented an idea for a forestry festival in the fall of 2020, a celebration similar to the college’s Mountain Day, but on a bigger scale. Patterson envisions an event that could feature lumberjack teams, horses, and which could have an appeal that extends far beyond Berea.

Patterson noted, for example, that with the Society of American Foresters convention coming to Kentucky this November, foresters will be visiting Berea College Forest from all over the world as part of an excursion offered at the convention. As it is, the Forestry Outreach Center has drawn approximately 8,950 visitors from all over the United States, Patterson said, a number that would potentially grow with the addition of a forestry festival.

Patterson said he expects Berea College Forest to receive additional attention in 2020 with the refurbishing of two notable ships – the Mayflower II, a wooden ship which will commemorate the 400th anniversary of pilgrims landing in Massachusetts, and the Western Flyer, the fishing boat authors John Steinbeck and Ed Ricketts used to research their book, The Log from the Sea of Cortez. Both vessels were redone with timbers from Berea College Forest.

Patterson presented the idea for the forestry festival to the commission for future consideration.

In another presentation, Susan Buckmaster, Director of Retail Sales at Berea College, presented plans for Berea College Trace, an initiative to promote the various offerings that surround the college, including Berea College Forest, local art and craft, retail shops, Berea College Farm Store, and other attractions.

Buckmaster said the effort has been in the works since last fall, and will likely include advertising on local billboards, as well as facilitating unique hands on experiences for visitors to the college. The promotional effort will also include a new website, updated online store for the visitor site and college crafts, a new online store for the log house, and additional marketing efforts to draw foot traffic to the college area.

Buckmaster’s presentation did not include any kind of request, but was merely an update on the Berea College Trace initiative.

In addition, the commission voted to begin working on an RFP for advertising services that would be distributed by the fall. Also under consideration at the next meeting will be a proposal to replace a staff person at the Berea Welcome Center.

The Berea Tourism Commission is scheduled to meet again on August 14.

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