McCreary County Tourism Studies Motorsport Tourism
By Eugenia Jones
The McCreary County Tourism Board joined in a Zoom meeting with motor sport enthusiast Erik Hubbard during their regular May meeting. Hubbard’s 501(c)3, Backroads of Appalachia, is an organization with a passion and empathy for providing economic development, job training and opportunities to the poverty stricken areas of Appalachia through tourism and motorsports.
The organization has trademarked three motorsports trails using pre-existing backroads in Eastern Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and Ohio. Motorsport trails to promote tourism are developed through beautiful Appalachian highways meandering through distressed former coal towns. The organization is based in Lynch, KY in Harlan County— one of the poorest counties in Kentucky. As of December 2019, Harlan County had an unemployment rate triple the national average. This town that once boomed with 10,000 residents now has less than 500. As was done in Lynch, the non-profit finds distressed towns along beautiful Appalachian backroads and infuses new tourism dollars to support local businesses, provide jobs, relieve poverty, and improve quality of life for low-income residents.
After being introduced by McCreary County Deputy Judge Nathan Nevels, Hubbard said he is interested in helping McCreary County promote motorsport tourism particularly the Copperhead Trail for motorcycles. The Copperhead Trail is a sixty-mile highway motorcycle trail with more than 300 turns winding through Whitley and McCreary Counties.
Nevels plans to meet with members of McCreary County’s local ATV club and Friends of McCreary County’s Trails to discuss developing motorsport trails.
In other business, the following business and updates were acted upon or discussed:
• Tourism collected 999.31 for April transient taxes.
• Tourism Director Michelle Perry was awarded a scholarship to attend tourism marketing college in June.
• Board voted to advertise McCreary tourism in June/July via radio in Williamsburg and surrounding area.
• A beautification project will begin in Jackson Park (green space adjacent to Tourism Center.)
• Tourism received $15,000 from Highland Telephone for tourism. Funds will be spent primarily on brochures and KY State Fair Exhibit.
• Approved tourism donation of $250.00 and one radio advertising spot for the Blazin’ Bluegrass June event. Approved $400.00 donation to Stearns Homecoming Fireworks.
• Hospice Silent Auction McCreary County Travel Package went to Dustin Morgan from Lincoln County. The package includes local lodging, restaurants, and attractions.
The next regular meeting of the McCreary County Tourism Board will be on Tuesday June 22 at 6:00 at the Tourism Office.