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Trail Days Heritage Festival

Tourism officials eye “trail days” theme for possible festival to replace McCrearyFest

With newly hired part-time Tourism Director Adam Phillips present for his first official meeting, the McCreary County Tourism Commission voted unanimously to explore the possibility of partnering with other local organizations to sponsor an annual Trail Days Heritage Festival designed to appeal to local attendees as well as draw out-of-town visitors to the county.  The Trail Days Heritage Festival would replace the current McCrearyFest event and would reflect McCreary County’s status as the home of Stearns, a soon to be state certified Trail Town.  Festival events would be in both Whitley City and Stearns.  The festival would replace McCrearyFest activities on the first full weekend in October.

According to Tourism Director Phillips, who also recently became President of McCrearyFest, the McCrearyFest organization is struggling.  All officers recently resigned, and subsequently, no one attended meetings to elect new officers.  Only Phillips agreed to serving as an officer.  Phillips stated that the lack of interest and leadership in the current McCrearyFest project plus his own desire to move tourism and the festival in a new direction were directly responsible for the decision to dissolve the McCrearyFest organization.  Phillips stated that dissolution of McCrearyFest will be finalized once the annual Banquet of Blessings, a popular Christmas time community dinner sponsored by the McCrearyFest organization, is successfully handed off to another organization.

According to a proposal presented at the tourism meeting, the Trail Days Heritage Festival could include Saturday events in downtown Whitley City including live music, food,  crafts, farmers’ market, parade, and other activities. Downtown Stearns could offer special museum exhibits, “hike/bike” train rides, and other special programs.   Also featured would be several days of trail activities such as guided hikes, mountain biking, 5k/10k runs, horseback rides, ATV rides and more.

Partners would be sought throughout the county with the McCreary County Tourism Commission acting as primary sponsor and host.  Other partners could possibly include Big South Fork Railway/McCreary Heritage Foundation, U.S. Forest Service, Big South Fork (Park Service), McCreary County Hikers, McCreary ATV/OHV clubs, McCreary Farmers’ Market, and others.

Several trail towns throughout the state and nation host successful festivals highlighting trail, outdoor, and downtown activities.  Prominent festival sites include Livingston, KY, Franklin, NC, and Dahlonega, Georgia.

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