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Get it together downtown

Get it together downtown
Get it together downtown
A yellow ribbon blows in the wind on North Capitol Avenue in Corydon, where the pear trees came out last week. (Photo by Randy West)

Spring sprang last week in Corydon. The beautiful white pear trees around the square all bloomed at once in the balmy sun, as though someone had turned on a switch and suddenly winter was gone. Corydon has rarely looked more inviting; everyone was in a mellow mood.
This is a good time to talk about getting Corydon and Harrison County ready for the thousands of tourists who will visit our beautiful part of the world in the next few months.
We are fortunate to have some experts helping us get ready: Jim Epperson, the new director of the Harrison County Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Sean Hawkins, the new CVB community development manager. They are full of ideas and anxious to help local businesses fine-tune their operations.
Probably the most important message they bring is that everyone should work together for the common good. That means meeting frequently, getting to know each other well, getting to know what other businesses have to offer, and volunteering to be an active participant in one of the Main Street Corydon committees (promotion, organization, design, and economic restructuring).
Of course, this is another huge time commitment, but if local merchants and tourist-oriented businesses aren’t willing to change their modus operandi and put in the time and effort to help others be successful, everyone will suffer.
For various reasons, there are some businesses that feel Main Street Corydon or the CVB doesn’t serve them, so they’re reluctant to take part. Some never will. It’s time to put past hurts, bad feelings and misconceptions aside and give the new CVB directors a chance. They bring new ideas, a new vision, and a lot of enthusiasm.
Planning has already started on three bluegrass weekends here and a Chicken Fest, which ought to be fun. Those festivals will be added to the several that have taken place here for years.
This is a new year, a new era, and we all have an opportunity to make the historic First State Capital the hub of a “tourist destination” throughout Harrison and Crawford counties that should last more than one day. “We’re focusing on the visitor experience; we’re trying to make this a place where people want to come for a weekend,” said Hawkins in a story last week. “That’s where the coordination comes in.”
If local merchants and businesspeople and tourist-oriented organizations can all work together to clean up, improve, customize or tailor their “product” in concert with everyone else, we will see a huge increase in tourism.
Our country is now in a strange period. Everyone is unnerved by the war in Iraq and the continuing threat of terrorism all over the globe. People who normally take vacations elsewhere are rethinking or have rethought their plans, probably planning to stay closer to home this year. That means tourist attractions in places like Southern Indiana will see more visitors. Obviously, that’s good for us. It just make sense to get ready for them in a new and different way. Together.