I just looked at the calendar and realized summer is just about gone. Somehow I let it get away. Like a lot of you, I’ve been hoping gas prices would come down enough to make a family vacation more affordable.
Well, gas prices are still hovering at the $4 a gallon mark. But something I read in the Division of Tourism ad in Rural Missouri has me thinking my vacation may take place anyway. Missouri’s Division of Tourism must have read the writing on the wall when they designed their tourism campaign for this year.
Their slogan, “Close to Home. Far from Ordinary,” caught my attention at the same time I was mourning the passing of summer 2008. The print ads I read took me to the www.visitmo.com Web site, where I was surprised at the wealth of information available to people planning a vacation in our great state.
On the tourism Web site is a link to “Things to Do.” Clicking here takes you to another page with a list ranging from golf to arts and culture to sports and recreation. Clicking on these sections takes you to a page where you can type in keywords or search for activities based on cities, regions or dates you have to travel.
Something else that you might find useful this late in the summer is the “Last Minute Travel Ideas.” A click here allows you to choose what region you are interested in. Since I live in Jefferson City, I clicked the Central Missouri link and was presented with a list of 11 destinations, ranging from the historic village of Arrow Rock to Van Meter State Park located in Miami, Mo.
You can see the close coordination various state agencies are doing these days. For example, many of the links take you to the Department of Natural Resources State Parks and Historic Sites pages. These in turn often link to area attractions.
Most notable is the emphasis being placed on agritourism these days. The State Department of Agriculture and the Division of Tourism clearly understand the concept that visitors want an up-close look at agriculture and are willing to make this a part of their vacation.
Nowhere is this more clear than at the Missouri State Fair, set for Aug. 7-17. I make a point of attending the state fair every year, both as a funnel-cake-eating tourist and as a representative of Missouri’s electric cooperatives.
Since the first electric cooperatives were formed, they have had a presence at the fair. From the 4-H Electric Theater to the media services co-ops provide to the sponsorship of the Touchstone Energy stage, electric cooperatives are well represented.
The coolest spot at the fair, the Missouri’s Electric Cooperatives Building, will be packed with many new exhibits, including displays on the “Take Control & Save” energy efficiency program.
The popular energy bike will be back, but this time kids will have their own version. A mock-up of a house will let visitors walk through the latest in energy-efficiency technology. And the photos, “People from our Pages,” Just4Kids mascot Buddy Bear and staff members from Rural Missouri also will be on hand.
A major focus will be the “Our Energy, Our Future” campaign that has opened a dialogue between co-op members and elected officials. If you haven’t already joined in at your annual meeting or the ourenergy.coop Web site, stop by the fair and get involved in this important effort.
I’m looking forward to vacationing in Missouri before this summer ends. If you see me at any of our state’s great attractions with a Rural Missouri hat on, come up and say hi and maybe we will get a chance to visit.
Hart is executive vice president of the Association
of Missouri Electric Cooperatives.