Pedersen updates Jeff council on tourism promotion

Bell Tower w tour bus
GCNO file photo

Efforts of the Greene County Chamber of Commerce to promote Jefferson and the county as a tourist destination are continuing despite uncertainty about the Welcome Center.

Chamber tourism and events coordinator Angie Pedersen updated the Jefferson city council Tuesday night on her work.

Pedersen has already booked six tours for the coming summer through Pedersen’s contacts at bus tour marketplaces. Legacy Tours of Fort Dodge, Star Destinations of Carroll, and First Iowa State Bank of Albia, Polk County conservation of Grimes and Central Bank of Cherokee have already made their plans. Pedersen anticipates several more bookings in the coming weeks.

She noted that she is working with the Boone County Chamber and Hotel Pattee in Perry to develop regional tours that would include an overnight. “The longer they stay the more money they spend,” Pedersen said.

Work is beginning on the 2016 tourism/membership guide, Pedersen said. Pioneer Publishing, best known as publisher of The Iowan magazine will design and publish the guide with copy and photos provided by the Chamber. The guide will be mailed to every address in the county on about May 1. The guide will be available in several locations in the county and regionally, and it will be put in visitors’ swag bags and used considerably in promoting Jefferson and the county.

Along with a printed tourism/membership guide, the Chamber plans to work through Jefferson Matters: Main Street on the development of a Jefferson tourism app. Pedersen said the Chamber has a “healthy relationship” with Jefferson Matters, and that as a Main Street community Jefferson can have an app developed by a company in Utah at a greatly reduced cost. The app, downloaded on a cellular phone, would provide information about attractions, restaurants, shopping options and more.

She announced a “save the date” of Aug. 5-7 for a regional quilt show, a collaboration between the Chamber and the Greene County Fair Association, with considerable expertise from Suzanne Sievers of the Stitch.

Pedersen also said her personal goal for 2016 is to increase bicycle tourism in Jefferson and the county. She hopes to meet soon with mayor Craig Berry, a bicyclist who is actively involved with the Cyclists of Greene and the Raccoon River Valley Trail, to get his input to add to brainstorming done by the Chamber’s tourism committee.

She also told of plans for Festival 50, the 2016 Bell Tower Festival that will salute the 50th anniversary of the Mahanay Memorial Carillon Tower. Wine tasting will be re-introduced as an upscale event at the Thomas Jefferson Gardens, the carnival will be expanded, and vendor stalls on State Street will be in the center of the street rather than blocking entrances to businesses.

The Chamber has booked The Rivieras to perform on the plaza stage prior to the Friday evening opening ceremonies and PopRocks will return to entertain at the beer tent Saturday evening. Dates for Festival 50 are June 10-11.

Pedersen did not mention the proverbial elephant in the room: the Welcome Center and the council’s new policy for use of hotel/motel tax revenues.

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