townview: Mayor Ron Williams

Dogwood Arts officially kicks off today. The Farragut Dogwood Trail is featured this year, so we can expect visitors from across the region to explore the trail, which starts at the entrance to Fox Den and winds through Country Manor and Village Green. This is a wonderful opportunity to showcase one of the Town’s greatest assets — our beautiful neighborhoods. It’s also a chance to make a good impression on visitors who might stop to shop or grab a bite to eat. Let’s go out of our way to welcome these guests, even if they drive slowly while admiring our blooms.

The community should be aware of the importance of visitors as the Town’s tourism efforts begin to pay off. In case you missed it, Farragut hosted a Songwriter’s Showcase in late February. The event, held at the Casual Pint, was a big success in spite the fact that songwriters and audience members had to brave the floodwaters for the Saturday night show. Tourism coordinator Karen Tindal received a lot of positive feedback about the showcase, and she’s already working on a larger event for next year.

Tindal, along with Farragut/West Knox Chamber president/CEO Julie Blaylock, also played a significant role in bringing Children’s Defense Fund Freedom School trainees to Farragut this summer.

The 1,500 young people will stay in Farragut, Oak Ridge and Knox County hotels from May 28 to June 7 while attending training sessions at the Roane State Community College campus in Harriman. Tindal and Blaylock, along with Steve Krempasky from Shop Farragut, are in the process of creating welcome bags for each participant that will include a map of Farragut amenities as well as coupons and other incentives to visit local businesses. The CDF opted to locate these young people in Farragut because of proximity to the Interstate, shopping and recreational opportunities. The economic impact of these visitors will likely exceed that of any previous Town event.

Tourism initiatives are different in every community. Farragut doesn’t have a significant natural attraction like the Smoky Mountains, or even a historic downtown like Knoxville. But it does have features that make it an appealing place to stop for the night: hotels and a large retail shopping complex close to the Interstate. The fact that CDF chose Farragut as its home base demonstrates the importance of those assets.

Interstate 40/75 and Turkey Creek may be our primary draw, but we have other attributes that attract local visitors: blooming trees, live music, beautiful parks and greenways and community events. These amenities may not put “heads in beds,” but if a family buys lunch or a new swimsuit on the way to the splash pad, they produce sales tax revenue.

Farragut residents should recognize the value of both overnight and “just for the day” guests. Let’s make sure that everyone who chooses to spend time and money in our community feels welcome. A friendly smile, a restaurant recommendation or help with directions could result in a second or third visit. And those visits add up to funding for roads, parks and other assets that make life better for residents and visitors alike.

So remember to smile and say, “Welcome to