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Ideas abound on tri-city tourism

Fri, Jun 5th, 2009
Posted in Government

At a Town Meeting Initiative this past March, the desire to enhance tourism in the cities of Rushford, Rushford Village, and Peterson were one of three principal ideas that developed. Now, community and business members, hoping to spur economic growth by tourism, have assimilated into one cohesive, creative force. With structuring from the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation, this Tri-City facilitation has produced abundant ideas for trail development and tourism related activity.

Serious conversation exists of at least two new motels in Rushford. With vacations being spent closer to home (regionally), existing tourism establishments are anticipating an encouraging summer. Even now, during an economic slow-down, the cities are active and contemplating growth. Local businessman Brad Hoiness stated, "tourism in Rushford gets a bad rap (as if it's not wanted), but that's not the case." There are several underutilized opportunities in the community and there is "more to offer than people know." Continuing, Hoiness acknowledged that the task will take "each business owner to make it work."

While the State Trail has always been a draw in the communities, it hasn't kick-started further tourism the way some had hoped. Careful restructuring and expansion could easily bring much needed tourism dollars to the area. Some of the potential developments include:

• An exercise trail to and from the new Creekside Park area and an expansion of other park related activities. One such activity, which has surfaced numerous times at various planning meetings, is the suggestion of a skate park as an outlet for the energy and enthusiasm of the pre-teen and teenage kids in the community.

• Connecting the distinct neighborhoods of Rushford and the State Trail with a biking/walking trail.

• Accessing Magelssen Bluff scenic lookouts, birding sites, natural habitat, and historic sites with developed walking trails.

• Self-guided tours of Rushford and Peterson highlighting sites of interest.

• Improved access points to the Root River for water enthusiasts.

• Working with Minnesota DNR to promote family oriented usage of the portion of the trail which winds from Peterson to Rushford.

• Trail development for the activities of horseback riding, ATV and snowmobile use, and cross-country skiing. Competitive biking events are also being considered.

Taking a leadership role, Ferndale Golf Club recently initiated a meeting with a number of campgrounds and B&B owners in the tri-county area. Boasting a standing as a top 9-hole golf challenge in the state, Ferndale has developed cooperative agreements to provide top quality golf experiences for visitors. The promotional effort, as described by club member Vern Bunke, will provide activities and opportunities for guests who are looking to utilize the communities' obvious benefits, such as discounted rounds of golf to those who make accomodations at specific locations.

To help further promote the area and to meet financial needs to improve the course, Ferndale Golf Club will be holding a fundraising auction Friday, June 19th. The evening will begin at 5 pm with a first-rate Prime Rib Dinner. Live auction bidding on numerous, exceptional items will follow, beginning at 7 pm. Tickets are on sale now through Ferndale Country Club and club members. The cost is $25 per person.

Highlighting the spirit and necessity of working together to benefit the entire commercial community of the area, those striving to improve area tourism know that they have a challenge before them, but the opportunity is clearly present.

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