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home : insight & opinion : letters to the editor May 24, 2016

12/20/2013 1:39:00 PM
Tourism ideas 'dead on arrival?'


I read with interest the front-page article about the Robinson City Council granting tourism awards.  First question - why are we using Robinson city tourism dollars to promote events in Palestine?  I understand it's the only event of any size in the county and that got me to thinking of why.  Is it because the City Council has no new ideas, or is it because the City Council turns down any event of which they do not want to attend or personally approve of?  Interesting questions both.

     I have children and grandchildren who talk of coming to the area for a visit and ask what there is to do here.  The answer is pretty simple - nothing.  Oh, there is a movie theater, a small skating rink and a few bars, but what else?  The Fourth of July celebration is nice, but who would travel here for that?  The Heath Festival on the square is once a year and draws a small crowd, but again that's once a year. 

     Here are some thoughts on attracting more travel to Robinson. 

1.  The parking lot north of the square is little used on weekends -  use it for a weekly flea and farmers market/yard sale? 

2.  An Oktoberfest celebration on the square with polka bands, brats and sauerkraut, pretzels and beer.

3.  A wine-tasting event on the square similar to what Palestine does in both the spring and fall.

4.  A spring motorcycle rally and antique car rally in the city park with a band.

5.  Sponsor a Robinson city marathon or half-marathon run with a celebration on the square following the event.

6.  Sponsor a Robinson quilters Event for the viewing and vending of Southern Illinois quilts.

7.  Sponsor a Southern Illinois barbecue contest on the square with entry fees and prizes for the best BBQ.

     These are just seven off the top of my head but I believe they would all bring attention to Robinson and continued tourism as they become annual events. 

My problem with writing this is my belief that as they are presented to the Robinson City Council they would be dead on arrival.  Here's why. 

1.  These events would bring more traffic to the area, and there are some who like the quiet of Robinson.  My response to these folks is "stay home during the event.  No one requires you to attend."

2.  Closing down the city square is bad for those businesses.  My response is that bringing more people to the square enhances the possibility of business and they could even benefit from having their own sales on those days.

3.  Some of these events would want to have beer or wine, and we surely don't want to allow that.  My response is that the council could vend temporary licenses for the event and make money for the city.  (Biggest problem is really that some  elderly religious teetotalers would be against anything that might be fun, and again they can just stay home that day.)

4.  Increased people coming in might require more police presence.  My response - surely their schedules can accommodate them being away from writing a few 1-4 mph speeding tickets during the event.

     There are lots of possibilities for tourism but the greatest impediment is resistance and stagnation.  If the council can't figure out how to actually promote tourism to Robinson then having a special fund to promote it is just a joke and waste of tax dollars.


Phil Montgomery


Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Article comment by: Theresa Boyd

Here, here, Phil! While I’ve only been in the area a few years and do attend festivals, it seems they have the same ole, same ole, every time. I wonder if not having new things keeps folks at bay. I congratulate the Heath Harvest Festival last year for bringing something new – “Robinson’s Got Talent” and hope that brought out more folks. It certainly was a step in the right direction. I heard a suggestion of creating a working farm bed & breakfast for big city folks to vacation at and see what they can’t see in their big city. Feeding chickens, tending large gardens, fixing equipment, maybe even driving a tractor, etc. Something like that creates a destination. I agree with you that there is so much more we can do – and we have a whole county to do it in!

Posted: Friday, January 31, 2014
Article comment by: Kim Calano

Phil I think you have some great ideas! I live in Palestine, but I rarely even bother going to Robinson anymore for fall festival and little events they do have. They have gone so down hill that they are not even worth my drive over, so I can't imagine people actually coming from afar for what's been going on. Hopefully they will take some of your ideas into consideration, as well as other people's ideas and come up with some new stuff and ramp up the old stuff!

Posted: Thursday, December 26, 2013
Article comment by: Nancy Crabill

Phil, I like yout ideas!

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