Planning for 2021 Laurel County events well underway

Nita Johnson, The Sentinel Echo, London, Ky.
·3 min read

Mar. 24—Outdoor adventures are the draw of tourists, according to response shown by attendees at an out-of-state trade show.

That was the report of London-Laurel County Tourism Co-Director Kelly Burton to board members during Tuesday's Zoom meeting.

Burton said she attended the Ft. Wayne Outdoor Trade Show and handed out over 1,200 brochures to those participating in the event. She reported that interest is high in outdoor events, especially hiking, camping, cycling, ATV parks and other activities. A cycling group that is traveling to Alaska is set to visit London this summer. The group is raising money for cancer organizations and will travel along KY 229 and U.S. 25 as part of their route.

The Heritage Music Series, which was a partnership between the London-Laurel Tourist Commission, Kentucky Country Music and Forcht Broadcasting, has been very successful, Burton reported. Due to COVID restrictions, the 200-seating theater can only host 70 people and Burton said the first show featuring Rye Davis and Branden Martin was a crowd of 34. The second week boasted a sold-out crowd for Wolfpen Branch, with the final performance featuring Tiffany Williams and Eric Bolander having very few seats left. The partnership worked well between the three promoters and Burton said a second music series for the fall may well be in the works and may include food trucks and alcohol vendors to enhance the event.

Burton also reported that concerts at the Corbin Arena brought large crowds to the area, with most hotels in southern Laurel County at Exit 29 being booked that weekend. Another concert scheduled for April 10 is also expected to generate hotel/motel bookings. The London-Laurel County Tourist Commission receives a "transient tax" for those overnight stays.

Plans for the 2021 Laurel County Homecoming is another venue in which Burton is involved, assisting with planning for this year's event. This is the 86th year of the event that highlights Laurel County and its heritage in the Levi Jackson Wilderness Road State Park. Burton said that a 5K Trail Run is being planned but hinges on restrictions from the COVID-19 pandemic that has restricted many events due to a lack of social distancing.

The Boonedoggle Race, set for Sheltowee Trace on April 10, has been changed from Broken Spoke area to the Laurel Lake Bible Camp, Burton added.

The annual Redbud Ride, set for April 17, is generating much interest this year. Burton said as of last week that there were 760 cyclists already registered for the event.

"We're offering half-price registration on St. Patrick's Day so that may get a few more registered," she said. "We will close registration at the end of March and then open it back up a couple days before the race and the day of the race. The day of the race we have many 'walk ups'

After many years of usage, the Tourist Center is needing some renovations that Co-Executive Director Kim Collier discussed before board members. Windows, LED lighting inside and outside the building and cameras in parking lot and back of building are some of the upgrades necessary. The need for cameras, she said, is due to some vandalism with tourist commission property — namely a truck which was broken into recently.

"They took a sprayer, a backpack sprayer, the window was busted and the dash ignition had been messed with so we're looking at it as an attempted theft of the truck," Collier said.

Plans for the 2021 World Chicken Festival are underway, she said, with Zoom meetings set to discuss the options for this year's event should the COVID-19 pandemic continue to affect large crowds.

Board members also discussed incentives for hotel/motel guests to promote events and activities in the area as well as offering discounts on meals and other facets that would entice guests to remain in the area longer and/or return at a later time.