Updated: September 28, 2022
As the Mayberry of Litchfield has grown, so, too, has our idea of tourism. I have to rebut Stan Roeser’s recent column about Litchfield’s tourism initiative and his yearnings for yesteryear.
I grew up in the outskirts of Darwin and graduated from Litchfield High in ’84. I remember, as a kid, riding my bicycle three miles into Darwin to go to Hansen’s Hardware to pick up a package of caps for my cap-gun or solid-fuel engines for my model rockets. While I was there, a bag of marbles caught my eye, and while I didn’t have enough money to buy both, they would simply hand-write a ticket and let me charge it and pay the next time I came in. Those were the days.
As populations grow and cities grow, things change.
Litchfield is a nice, quiet and clean community. We have a lot going for us, but tourism isn’t necessarily one of them. As part of a committee to help that along, I think tourism (or making people aware that we have some interesting things to see and do here) only helps our community grow and thrive.
Tourism can mean anything from visiting a community for a day, or for the weekend. It’s more than just visiting museums and old churches. My wife and I quite frequently visit other communities for one reason or another. Maybe it’s to visit a brewery or winery. Maybe it’s to shop for a day. Maybe it’s just to have dinner. Sometimes it’s to get away for a weekend.
Tourism is making people aware that we have things to do in our city. We have good places to eat and new ones coming in.
Back in the day, Litchfield was just fine with a gas station or two. Now we have seven! Has our population grown seven times since Stan bought gas from Ron? Maybe our manufacturing has, and that’s wonderful. But wouldn’t tourism help all those gas stations out?
We have a lot of good restaurants and fast-food places in town. Sure, our local population workers may be able to sustain restaurant owners to maintain a modest living, but wouldn’t the added revenue from out-of-towners help make Christmases better for the restaurant employees any given year, or help them get ahead, or even buy a new car from one of our local dealers?
The revenues generated to promote tourism do not come out of the city’s budget. These are revenues that come from a hotel tax essentially; a tax paid by us whenever we stay almost anywhere else in the country. This money cannot be used for maintaining recreation centers or pools. It can only be used for promoting tourism. Having a recreation center is a great idea and could even be part of the tourism promotion.
The city isn’t taking its sights off the recreation center or any other important community actions. The tourism initiative is being guided by a small group of community residents who attended the Blandin Community Leadership Program in 2016 and came up with a plan to make our community better.
The days of Litchfield being Mayberry are gone, but we are still a nice, clean and quiet community.
I know Stan means well; I just feel that some hometown marketing helps our restaurants and stores, and having more people visit us might attract more specialty shops and revitalize our downtown by filling up some of those empty windows. That happens, in part, with tourism.