Tuesday, April 12, 2011

View From The Bridge 4/13/11

“VIEW from the BRIDGE”
By Muncie

Awesome as usual. A packed house enjoyed a great performance of Treasure Island the Missoula way. How they can put on a performance like that in one week is beyond my comprehension? Jim Caron (storywriter, and music/lyrics,) Michael McGill (music/lyrics,) and Margie Schuler must have the patience of Angels. The song, Service with a Smile, is still running round my mind.

If you saved your program or remember whom the sponsors were, be sure to thank them personally. Let them know how much you appreciate their support. We look forward to two years from now when the theatre will return.

“Geotourism is defined as tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of a place---its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage, and well-being of its residents.”

As I told you last week, Jonathon Tourtello from the National Geographic who visited Fort Benton just before the Conference said that Fort Benton has been doing Geotourism before the word was invented. We that live here, are employed here, and volunteer here have always known that, not as Geotourism, but because volunteers have carried on with all of the above descriptions.

That is the reason Tourtello was so impressed by the Ag Museum, The Village, and The Old Fort. The attendees at the Conference were very proud about the way we were referred to in his talk and the rest of us can be proud too. We have something very special in each of the descriptions. The environment would be the levee and the river. The culture would be the tours at the Ag, the Old Fort, and the B.L.M. Visitors Center. The aesthetics are the beauty of the town that includes the monuments, the Old Levee Walking Trail, and general appearance of the buildings. The heritage is the history of Fort Benton, and the generations of families. Finally, with the well-being of our residents, we have it all. We are the first best place and we have to get into the market place.

I contacted those that attended the Conference to ask what they learned.

DeDe Axtman was impressed as to the quality of the conference that she thought was the best she had ever attended. It has been four years since her last attendance. Tourtello was impressive because he not only gave pros about Fort Benton but he also gave cons. One of those cons that stood out was the signage around town for not only directions, locations, but also storefronts.

Connie Jenkins said a workshop speaker said to ask visitors what Fort Benton’s attributes were. Let the visitor talk and listen to what they have to say. The volunteers at the Visitor’s Information Center, the attendants at the Agricultural Museum, the Museum of the Upper Missouri, and the B.L.M. Interpretive Center would be the persons who could implement that suggestion.

Another very important asset to our area that is undersold is The Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument that includes the Wild and Scenic River. We have to sell the idea of trips down the Missouri to the White Cliffs.

Kernan Myers attended the Conference for the first time. She works for the Grand Union Hotel and was pleased that Jonathon Tourtello showed a picture of the hotel in his slide presentation. She also spoke with State Representatives about the Bed Tax. She enjoyed meeting the other men and women from Fort Benton who attended the Conference.

She has only lived in Fort Benton for six months. She and her husband (Chef at the Grand Union,) came from Washington D.C. I asked how she adjusted from big city to small town and she said it is great. Hubby is a hunter/fisherman and they love the outdoors. They wanted a quieter life and found it here. I say “Welcome” to the Myers. If they moved six months ago, they will really enjoy Fort Benton’s spring and summer. Frankly, so will all of us.

Randy Morger reported “Very worthwhile. I networked with industry leaders from the state, the United States, and Canada who speak very highly of our town. I came away more optimistic than ever about Fort Benton’s allure as a destination for discriminating travelers who value authenticity and western small-town charm.”

Sharalee Smith talked about Sustainable Tourism and Fort Benton fitting the description very well. Jonathon Tourtello also referred to, it, about our town. Sustainable Tourism is a little more complex than Geotourism. It is synergistic, it involves the community, it informs both visitors and hosts, and it benefits residents economically.

(Muncie’s comments…I could go into detail about each of those items but this column would take two pages. You get the general idea, and the point is that Fort Benton is doing a great job. One problem is that we are the best-kept secret in Montana. However, I believe that continued and necessary interest in tourism will bring rewards to the community.

There was a day many years ago that everyone coming west, knew Fort Benton. One would leave St. Louis and sail the Missouri to Fort Benton. All freight and cargo came to Fort Benton and then to its final destination. Everyone knew Fort Benton. Today everyone should know Fort Benton because it is where it all began.)

Ron Young said the audience was told that tourism was expected to be good for the next few years. Travelers to find where others have traveled are using social Media, such as Face Book and Twitter. They have been very satisfied with what they found. Ron also was also pleased to find that the Old Forts Trail was on the list of the Top 10 Scenic Drives list. Over all it was a great conference.

I again, called the attendees late this Sunday evening. I could not reach Ruth Carlstrom. I will report her reactions next week.

Two weeks from today is Easter Sunday. We wish you a happy family day.

Pie Day is Friday (the 15th,) and we would like to see you there.

Next Sunday, the 17th,) will be a farewell get-together for the Todd’s from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the First Christian Church. Mark it on your calendar.

The next Chouteau County Performing Arts program is Wednesday the 27th and promises to be another great show. Have you used your “Buddy Pass” yet? Your seasons ticket entitles you to, once, bring a friend to one of the performances. This is your last chance for this season. We are looking forward to next season already.

Remember to call me at 899-1380 (after 9:00 p.m.,) if you have any item for the social calendar.

SPRING (At last, maybe?)
Yesterday Saturday, and today were so beautiful. In fact, yesterday we discovered that our lilacs had buds on them. The apricot tree is a maybe. There are new growths of branches that are red color and they have very tiny buds on them. There are not many but they are there.

I walked the Levee Walking Trail yesterday and today. One did not actually need a jacket. I met five people walking and it was late in the afternoon. I will try to get out earlier from now on and there should be more people on the Trail. I really love and enjoy the Levee Walking Trail. I remember when there was just a path from The Old Bridge to the Lewis and Clark Memorial Statue. It was about one foot wide and muddy when it rained. I cannot remember when the first part of the Trail was finished or when the additional lengths were completed. I will check with City Hall tomorrow.

A request that was brought to my attention was to please tidy up after your pets on the Levee Walking Trail. I will check tomorrow to be sure, there is a good supply of Mutt Mitts.

Two days after you receive the River Press, the month will be half-gone. Unbelievable. Where does the time go? “Funny How Time Slips Away” is a favorite song of ours and it is so true. So enjoy every minute of every day. It is too precious to waste.