Despite the gloomy weather and rain, diggers and attendees had a fun time at the Quartz, Quiltz and Craftz Festival (QQC) earlier this month. The day of the awards ceremony, I had been a bit concerned about the temperament and morale of all those who had been out digging in the chilly rain. You can imagine how relieved I was to learn that despite getting wet and muddy, everyone returned with high spirits. Thanks to all those volunteers who worked tirelessly at the event and behind the scenes to make this event run so smoothly. With this year’s event behind us, we are already looking forward, tweaking, and preparing for next year’s QQC.
Now that the summer tourist season behind us, I expected that traffic at the Chamber Office and Visitor Information Center would drop off significantly. It hasn’t. Once again, with QQC behind us, I expected a drop in traffic by our office. Nope, didn’t happen. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t looking forward to a decrease in tourism, but I expected it. I am so pleased to find that my expectations were wrong, the visitors are still coming. Some are just passing through on their way to Hot Springs or other areas, but whatever the case, we are presented with the opportunity to tout all the things Montgomery County has to offer. Now, we just need to keep them here longer. We’re working on that, and, once folks know all the things Montgomery County has to offer, they want to stay. When I got back to the office the Monday following QQC, I had a call from a husband and wife who, after picking up a Visitor Guide at the QQC event, said that they had so much fun and were planning to make an annual trip to the area to experience QQC and all the sights and fun activities in Montgomery County.
If you read my columns, you know that I get absolutely pumped reading the statistics for our website, mtidachamber.com. I love to see the various countries and the amount of time that visitors stay on the website. The past thirty days we’ve had visitors to the website from twenty-seven countries outside of the United States. This includes Austria, Bangladesh, Denmark, Greece, Hungary, Indonesia, Iran, Nigeria, and Zimbabwe, just to name a few. Furthermore, in just the past couple of months, I have been fortunate enough to meet visitors from other countries, even continents, who first visited our website. With the recent additions to the Chamber Office and Visitor Information Center Gift Store, we now see visitors spending time to both the website and brick and mortar location. You can’t help but smile and have a sense of pride from that.
In an effort to better represent our area and keep the interest of visitors, the Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Information Center is continually adding products crafted by local artisans. In addition to a wide selection of pottery from Ouachita Mountains Pottery, and various items from the Gap Mercantile, we now carry wire-wrapped crystal necklaces from Mother Earth’s Treasures. These are great additions to our store, and we will soon have more products and local artisans represented. Come by and do some Christmas shopping.
I am thrilled and thankful for all of the interest in the Chamber of Commerce as well as in the area. We are pleased to welcome our recent, new Chamber of Commerce members: the Blue Bell Cafe’ and Country Store, the Montgomery County Library, Mother Earth’s Treasures, and Barbara Grazzie Warbritton. The continued growth of the Chamber benefits everyone; please join us in welcoming each of these new members. Additionally, I would like to express my gratitude to Robin Smith for donating a heavy duty Printer/Copier, I feel as though Christmas has come early! Thanks to all our new members and to those who continue to support us so that we can support and promote Montgomery County.
As we enter the Holiday season, there are a few upcoming events to note on the calendar. The Blue Bell Cafe’ and Country Store in Story will be holding an Open House this Saturday, November 3rd, from 1:00pm – 4:00pm. This year, Thanksgiving falls on November 22nd, with Black Friday (November 23rd), and National Shop Local Day (Saturday, November 24th) on its heels. Please remember to support your local businesses!
December 8th will be a fun filled day in Mount Ida… on December 8th, the annual Mount Ida Christmas Parade hosted by the Mount Ida/South Fork Volunteer Fire Department ,will be held on the square at dusk. Immediately following the Christmas Parade, on December 8th,the Mount Ida Area Chamber of Commerce will be holding a Christmas Open House at the Chamber office – join us for refreshments and fellowship. Come and visit with us, see the changes, shop, and enjoy the refreshments. The Chamber will also be hosting a Cookie Contest earlier in the day (please contact Gail at the Chamber for more information , 870-867-2723).
And finally, on December 15th, Caddo Gap Baptist Church and the Gap Mercantile will be hosting the 2nd Annual Christmas in the Gap. This event features a fun and moving music filled evening, in Caddo Gap (oh, and there will be refreshments there too).
Well this was a bit long, but there was alot to say. Until next time, (whew) join, renew, or volunteer, your involvement helps make us great!