Tourism excursion begins Thursday

By Amanda Dodson -
- Dale Sands | For The Stokes News

The Stokes County Economic Development and Tourism office is hosting #iheartSTOKES Tourism Excursion this Thursday through Saturday and will kick off at The Arts Place Thursday at 11 a.m.

The three-day tour of local destinations is often referred to as a FAM tour, a familiarization tour, and is held over the course of a single day, or multiple days covering larger areas and sometimes including package deals with stays at local accommodations.

“Under previous department leadership, FAM tours were done to recruit press, bloggers, and article writers to the area, to show them what Stokes County has to offer those who travel,” said Economic Development Tech Analyst, Tory Mabe. “In return, articles in various magazines including Our State, and American Airlines Magazine have been written and Stokes County is still receiving leads with articles this year written in Our State Magazine, Southern Living, The Destination Magazine, Southern Travel and Lifestyles, and various online blogs.”

Mabe said the tours are also a great way for residents to get reacquainted with the area they live in.

“Many who live and drive around our hometown and county daily, don’t often stop to realize that we have many great views, outdoor activities to enjoy, our own beachy area and lake for swimming, diving and a river that flows for almost 58 miles.”

Of course, there’s a plethora of local history in Vade Mecum, the Rock House, Moratock Iron Furnace and well-known general stores.

“Residents who live in Stokes, don’t see hotels for visitors to stay in, but the state park has 78 campsites and 10 cabins. Outside of Hanging Rock there are four campgrounds for primitive or RV camping. There are four group or lodge rental locations, and over 20 vacation rental properties throughout the county,” Mabe added.

The excursion is aimed to attract those who love Stokes County or just want to find out more about this part of the state.

“The hope of the department is that residents, visitors, local business owners and employees, news media, bloggers and journalists will take part in some or all of the visits.”

Mabe is encouraging local business owners to send some of their staff along for portions of the tour.

“The hope would be that when they are interacting with visitors to the area and want to know more about what there is to do or places to stay, that those employees will inform them of places in Stokes County to check for lodging or adventure first, without having to recommend they stay or do something fun in a county outside of Stokes.”

Mabe said the tour idea has been in the works for the past two months. The initial plan was to visit all local places to stay, but it’s been split across three days to incorporate wedding and event centers, services to board horses, locations for unique shopping and antiquing, showcasing of artistic talents and public art with the Barn Quilt Trail, a sampling of local places to dine, historic locations, agri-tourism/local farms, areas for scenic views and adventure, locations for entertainment, recreation or relaxing after a full day of exploring Stokes County.

The tour is guided and will begin each day at a local place of business for lunch, then depart to the next scheduled location.

“We didn’t opt for a bus tour because the days schedule can become long and we wanted to allow the event to be open and free to everyone. This allows someone the ability to pick the visit they want from the schedule or select the stops that interest them most and meet the group there at the scheduled arrival time. If the idea catches on, our department would like to continue the trend each year and may work to provide group transportation,” Mabe said.

Folks participating will drive individually to each location or follow the group in caravan form. Mabe is encouraging folks to carpool if possible.

If it becomes an annual event, Mabe said stops on the excursion will be varied to include locations that weren’t part of the previous year’s schedule.

Snacks will be provided through the Stokes Economic Development and complimentary items will be purchased for those in attendance.

Thursday, May 10

The day begins on Main Street in Danbury at The Arts Place at 11 a.m. Lunch is available at Artist’s Way Creations. Ten stops are planned, which include local event and wedding venues and will end at Single Tree Gun and Plough Lodge for sunset photo opportunities.

Friday, May 11

Kickoff begins with lunch at El Cabo in Walnut Cove at noon. Visits are planned around Walnut Cove, a drive to King by way of a few Barn Quilt Trail locations, and a visit to the King Drug Soda Fountain. The 11 stops will end at Castle Deli in King with dinner and a scheduled Friday night music selection.

Saturday, May 12

The adventure begins at River Rock Café in Danbury at 11 a.m. with visits to Carolina Ziplines, Hanging Rock, The Dan River and historic Priddy’s General Store. The day will be capped off at The Green Heron Ale House for entertainment and relaxation along the Dan River.

For more information about #iheartSTOKES Tourism Excursion before or on the day of the event, contact Tory Mabe at 336-593-2496.

Amanda Dodson may be reached at 336-813-2426. Sands | For The Stokes News

By Amanda Dodson