Andrew Guinn is a graduate student in the UNC Department of City and Regional Planning and a CCP intern working in Caswell and Lenoir Counties.
With Labor Day well past and the summer coming to an end, it’s worthwhile to look back on one of Caswell County’s CCP-supported projects: the initiation of First Fridays on the Square in Yanceyville. First Fridays, which was organized with CCP assistance and funding from the NC Rural Center by a volunteer committee last winter, has become a popular local event since it began in May. The monthly event features outdoor concerts with local musicians at the local amphitheater, which was recently constructed with funds from NC STEP. Visitors are also encouraged to take advantage of some of other local amenities, such as the Richmond-Miles History Museum or the Maude Gatewood Collection in the Municipal Gallery.
Now that September’s First Friday has come and gone, however, it is valuable to consider opportunities for further improving the event in the summer of 2011. One strategy in which town management has expressed interest is expanding First Friday attendance by marketing to surrounding communities. CCP interns have put together a marketing plan and a list of regional media outlets, including newspapers and radio stations, which can be used to advertise the event in nearby towns and counties and attract visitors to Yanceyville.
Additionally, offering more attractions in partnership with local businesses and community organizations can help to provide a small, local economic boost. For example, allowing licensed food vendors to sell refreshments at the event could bring greater attention and more business to local restaurants. Likewise, a farmers market which operates in conjunction with First Fridays could offer an opportunity for local farmers to sell their goods while supplying healthy eating options to Yanceyville residents. Of course, before any such suggestions can be carried out, it will be necessary to carefully plan their implementation in such a way that licensing is fair and open to all local vendors who may be interested.
By combining these attractions with expanded advertising, Yanceyville can use tourism to bring increased economic activity into the town. In addition, the Town can offer more and better local opportunities for amusement to residents, who otherwise might travel to outside communities to enjoy their leisure time. Providing opportunities to spend locally, then, can minimize such leakages. Over the next several months, CCP interns hope to work with town management and the volunteer planning committee to consider options for improving First Fridays once summer returns.