Bill Wayne's Political Pages - The Gadfly
Gadfly 290
Submitted to the Warrensburg Gazette for May 12, 2005

The Gadfly is a series of letters offering commentary on local issues and published in the Warrensburg Gazette.

Last week, a major local lodging operator asked us to participate in a meeting of a group looking at various tourism opportunities in Warrensburg. The meeting was informative. I was happy to see that there is progress toward a coordinated tourism effort for our area and that much of the effort is directed toward activities that actually may bring in outside dollars. Much of the discussion was centered on activities involving Central Missouri State University facilities, which is to be expected because those facilities have the ability to draw larger groups. However, other attractions and events also drew attention, something fairly new.

The group has subcommittees looking at special events, agritourism, arts and literature, and sports. Each of these subcommittees reported on assets, resources, successes and needs. One need addressed was the need to get community support to make large visiting groups feel welcome; certainly, businesses that can expect some patronage from the group should participate. However, it is up to the sponsoring organization, whether CMSU, Chamber or another group, to make its needs known – something that isn't always done.

One of the positives is that a consolidated event calendar is finally being developed at CMSU, with the intent to add that to the overall civic calendar. Such a calendar may help with coordinating events, so that those that are complementary can be scheduled together and that events that conflict can be avoided (Warrensburg’s only festival, the Blind Boone event, once conflicted with a circus and another time with an air show - ouch!). It does nobody good for event sponsors to operate in a vacuum.

There’s still a long way to go. Thinking is still limited to events in "connected" facilities, such as CMSU or the Fair Grounds, while ignoring options outside the "establishment." For example, events at the fairgrounds go-cart raceway were discussed, while tourism related to existing racetracks near Warrensburg and halfway to Sedalia were ignored. Opportunities at the new skeet and trap range at the CMSU College Farm were discussed, while no mention was made of a long-established sporting clays operation on Bristle Ridge. If tourism efforts are to be largely funded with tax dollars drawn from city lodging establishments, it is important that such other attractions, ones that can fill their rooms, not be overlooked.

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