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Tourism group looks back on successful year

Members of the Tourism Board at their monthly meeting discussed events for next year and recapped some successful efforts this year that helped promote Thomson and McDuffie County.

Among those successes were the recent Festival Off Main street fair and the introduction of an afghan depicting historic scenes or sites from McDuffie County.

The Festival was a success with strong participation and vendors reporting brisk business.

Sunday's parade, which signaled an end to the weekend festivities, was fun for all ages, said Mary Ann Coussons, board member.

Tourism Director Gerald Baygents reported on the success of the colorful afghan. Introduced about a month ago, the afghan has already been reordered once after the original 100 blankets were sold, and Mr. Baygents plans to order 100 more.

"We've had a great response," he said.

The afghans, priced at $35, are a break-even effort that promotes the county and offers a unique local gift, board members said.

Also as part of promoting the county, the board discussed a new billboard that may catch the interest of I-20 travelers on their way from Atlanta to Augusta. The billboard promotes the motels, restaurants and antique shopping in Thomson and mentions the winery. It lists both Thomson exits, and was approved by the county commission for a one year lease at a cost of $10,300 from the special projects-tourism budget.

Also at the meeting, visitor Dot Jones addressed the board, thanking members for their support of historic sites around the county including repair work on the Rock House. The board funded repairs to that historic structure which needed 24 broken windows replaced as well as other work.

"It was a nice thing for this board to do to help us make repairs at our historic sites," said Ms. Jones, a former local tourism official who remains active in preservation efforts around the county.

Recently the board also supported conservation work at the Wrightsboro Cemetery, using a firm specializing in historic sites.

"This is one of the most gratifying projects I've been involved with in a long time," said Board Member Epp Wilson, who spearheaded the drive.

The board discussed a possible future package tour involving local historic county sites such as the cemetery and the Rock House.

In other action, the board bid farewell to three members whose terms are expiring: Board Chair Hazel Mobley, and members Jackie Horton and Ms. Cousins were thanked for their service.

Staff writer Kristopher Wells contributed to this article.

Web posted on Wednesday, December 22, 2004

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