CRAIG COUNTY – There is a lot of good news out there about tourism and economic development. The Artisan Trail in Craig, Alleghany, Bath, and Highland counties was launched last November and new businesses such as the Artisan Center & Farmers Market on Main Street in New Castle are glad to see the change of the seasons.
But many more things are going on behind the scenes when tourism committee members get together once a month under the leadership of Chairman Diane Givens. The Commission now has 11 members appointed by the Craig County Board of Supervisors. They work hard to do a lot with a small budget.
Currently the commission’s biggest project is putting together a new county road map, with assistance from Matt Miller of the Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission.
The finished product will be in full color and measure 28 by 40 inches. The map will feature 9-1-1 street names, the 14 sites on the county’s Artisan Trail and significant landmarks such as the fairgrounds, the new sports complex, and the town hall.
National Forest boundaries, creeks and trails will also be marked.
The committee spent last Monday evening trying to narrow down some 87 points of interest that have been suggested for inclusion on the map including 20 churches and six cemeteries.
The back of the map will showcase the Artisan Trail sites and Forest Service attractions along with county history. About one-third of the area was designated by the Commission as advertising space. Over 20 area businesses to date have purchased ads, thereby funding about 50 percent of the total cost. Each of those businesses will be marked on the map, as well.
It is hoped that the maps will be ready for distribution by the end of May. They will be available free of charge at the Visitor’s Center located at the Craig County Public Library and at the Craig County Administrator’s Office, both in New Castle.
Several activities are being planned to help draw visitors to the area. Members of the commission are organizing a list of more than two dozen attractions that would be the basis for tour groups from other areas to visit the county on a “Mystery Tour.” Plans are also being made for an Audie Murphy Commemoration in July of 2015.
Another project of the commission is to produce a written and digital summary of information that would aid visitors to the county. Known as a familiarization tour, the object would be to provide business employees and library volunteers with information and answers to frequently-asked questions. Commission members believe it will take the whole county working together to make tourism a success.
The Tourism Commission maintains an information rack inside the public library, as well as an outside kiosk at the corner of Salem Avenue and Main Street in New Castle. Currently the Virginia State Travel guide magazine is available there along with a variety of information about local and regional attractions.
People are asked when using the kiosk to make sure to close the lid so the literature is protected from the weather. And if you ever ride by and see that the case is open, please be so kind as to close it, commission members asked.
For a calendar of local events and information, check out the county website at www.craigcountyva.gov. The next scheduled meeting of the Tourism Commission is Monday, May 13, at 6 p.m. at the Commons in New Castle. Comments and input from the public are welcome.