Once you’ve lived here a while, you think you know Clarksville fairly well. But Visit Clarksville Executive Director Theresa Harrington says research shows that some people who have lived here quite a while – even their entire lives -- don’t know about some of the attractions and things to do right here in their own hometown.
“Montgomery County covers a large area and it’s so easy to become settled in our routines. We really don’t venture out and explore new areas very often,” she says. “It’s sometimes more fun to plan a trip ‘away’ or even to a neighboring community for a weekend or a day trip. We think we have to leave home to explore something new, and that’s often not the case. Sometimes, we just don’t know what’s right in our own backyard.”
While updating her board of directors recently on some upcoming events, she observed that some board members only knew about places that the organization promotes through what they had heard or read. She felt it was time for an experience – the very thing Visit Clarksville promotes to potential visitors every day.
“Our board meets every other month, so those off months make a great opportunity to organize site visits,” she said. These are known in the tourism industry as familiarization tours or FAMs.
In August, board members who were able to attend the outing carpooled to the newly unveiled Pat Head Summitt Legacy Park and statue in Liberty Park, the RichEllen Park on Hwy 149, and Historic Collinsville in Southside.
Newly appointed board member Kyle Luther, senior vice president of commercial lending at First Advantage Bank, was impressed with how well maintained RichEllen was. “The playground area was huge and set up to be enjoyed by kids of all ages,” he said.
Matt Cunningham, owner of Old Glory Distilling, also new to the board was extremely impressed with the caliber of facilities at RichEllen. "The entire park is as impressive as any I've had a chance to visit (or play in as a kid!)," he said.
Harrington hopes to continue FAMs during the year, especially to the attractions that are off-the-beaten-path. “Anytime you can experience a place for yourself – beyond just words and pictures on a page – you gain a broader and deeper understanding of that place and appreciation for its people and culture. Those connections are really what tourism is all about.”