That is what representatives of the Kentucky Park system, Land Between the Lakes, the Adventure Tourism group and Kentucky Lieutenant Governor Daniel Mongiardo said when they talked to about 70 local leaders and businesspeople at a workshop on adventure tourism that took place at the Lake Barkley State Resort Park Lodge Thursday afternoon.
Adventure Tourism Executive Director Elaine Wilson said that Cadiz and Trigg County have the assets necessary to become a regional center for adventure tourism and outdoors recreational activities in general.
“One of the things that we encourage people to do is … to look at possibly becoming a trail town,” Wilson said. “A trail town is a town that is organized in such a way to serve the needs of people using trail systems.”
Wilson said that connecting Cadiz to the Lake Barkley State Park via a trail would be a big draw for the community, but the city and residents have to be receptive to travelers. She added that she didn’t see any bicycle racks last time she was in Cadiz, although she also noted that there probably are some in town.
“I didn’t see any hitching posts, not that I would, because I know you don’t have any horseback trails that are coming into the city. But there are stables here,” Wilson said.
She talked about the need to get kids back outside, citing it as a way to combat childhood obesity. She also said this was one of the reasons that she and others started the Adventure Tourism group roughly four years ago.
One of the programs Wilson plugged is the “No Child Left Inside” program, which as the name suggests is designed to get children to appreciate outdoor play and to become more connected to nature.
Mongiardo said we are marketing Kentucky to ourselves, but we need to extend our efforts to other places. “It’s up to you if you want to bring jobs to this county, to this state … to package it for these people that live in New York and Chicago and the cities, and hand it to them on a platter, just like all these destination locations throughout the world do,” Mongiardo said.
Mongiardo said we as Kentuckians and as Trigg Countians need to know what’s in our own backyard and need to learn how to market it more effectively. Like Wilson, Mongiardo talked about the benefits of outdoor play, citing indoor air quality as compared with the quality of outside air.
“Indoor air quality in our homes is seven times more polluted than Los Angeles air,” said Mongiardo. “It’s terrible to be inside because that air stagnant, and it’s extremely, extremely unhealthy.”
Bill Stevens, executive director of the Cadiz/Trigg County Tourism Commission, Commissioner of Kentucky State Parks Gerry van der Meer, and Land Between the Lakes Communication Services Manager Kathryn Harper also talked about some of the area’s assets.
Gerry van der Meer said that Lake Barkley has an economic impact of $47 million for Cadiz and Trigg County, and that state parks draw as many visitors as horse racing or bourbon distilleries.
Harper said when she talks about LBL, she’s including the counties in both Kentucky and Tennessee that comprise it. She added that LBL is regularly alongside Mammoth Cave National Park and the Kentucky Horse Park as the most visited attraction in Kentucky.