Tourism on the horizon for Mecklenburg County

JB and the Get Down Browns performed for eager Mecklenburg residents at the Clarksville Wine Festival. Turnout was great for the event, and spells success for events further down the road. (Alina Moody photo)

The Mecklenburg County Board launched April’s meeting by recognizing the week of April 11 through the 17 as National Public Safety Telecommunication Week. The week is set to honor hardworking telecommunications employees who are instrumental in saving lives and communicating critical information to police and ambulance workers.

The Mecklenburg County E911 Communication Center received over 60,000 calls this past year, 20,000 of which were critical emergency situations. Telecommunications workers handled these emergencies with the utmost care and professionalism. As Glenn Barbour said, “I think a lot of people fail to consider just how stressful a job this is. These folks are answering calls and they know that somebody’s life is depending on them getting it right. Somebody on the other end is in danger and they have to get it right.”

Tina Morgan, Mecklenburg Tourism Coordinator, gave the Board a comprehensive presentation on all the successes and changes Mecklenburg has seen over the past year. Mecklenburg County Tourism was able to establish the Tourism and Arts Relief Grant thanks to an allocation of CARES funding that was secured in Fall 2020. This grant was made to relieve struggling nonprofit organizations who have found themselves locked out of other federal opportunities. It was open for all 501(c)(3) and (c)(6) organizations located in Mecklenburg County whose mission was related to tourism or the arts. Of the thirteen organizations that applied for the grant, the following twelve were chosen and received funding: The Boyd Tavern; the Clarksville Players; MacCallum More Museum & Gardens; Clarksville Dixie Youth; Historic Boydton Renaissance; Clarksville Lake County Chamber of Commerce; Chase City Chamber of Commerce; Southern Virginia Food Hub; Save Our Heritage, Inc.; Prestwould Plantation; Historically Black Schools of Mecklenburg County, VA; and the Clarksville Regional Museum.

As many will remember, Mecklenburg County Tourism hosted three rounds of the successful Gift Card Match Program to support local small businesses during the pandemic. In total, they were able to raise a whopping $1 million to support small businesses in the county.

Morgan also shared that since launching the last round of the Gift Card Match Program, she has received emails and phone calls from all across the state and even across the nation from localities that were interested in finding out how to duplicate the program for their own areas. As a result, the Gift Card Match Program has crossed county lines and has helped raise a total of $3.9 million dollars for small businesses around the nation.

To shift the focus back closer to home, Tina stated, “tourism marketing in a pandemic is challenging.” She continued, “This past year has been focused on road trips and outdoor activities and safety. Luckily, we were already in a good position for that, and my campaigns have been centered around our small towns and outdoor adventures as Mecklenburg County continues to grow in popularity as an outdoor destination.”

In fact, locals can look forward to October 17 through 22, as the American Bass Anglers Tournament is slated to bring tourism and business to Mecklenburg. Planning for the tournament is already underway as an estimated 250 anglers and their partners will be heading the Clarksville—and more broadly Mecklenburg County—for the tournament.

Morgan also shared the multitude of new businesses that have cropped up in the past few months, as well as some that will be opening soon. The Bridgewater Bar and Grill has taken the place of The Lamplighter Restaurant and will hold its opening on April 13. Both lakeside hotels and under new ownership and are currently undergoing renovations. Buggs Island Brewery will also be opening its lakeside location this summer.

Blackwater Station was opened in Chase City by Robert Bondurant, who plans to add outdoor dining in the coming summer months. Bear Claw Grill—also located in Chase City—will be featuring a menu full of mouthwatering outdoor grilled food to open in May.

Mecklenburg residents can also look forward to the recommencement of the Lake Life Summer Series, Party at the Pavilion, and the South Hill Concerts at the Park. Also on the horizon is the Big Lake Flea Market slated for May 8.

The Mecklenburg County Board of Supervisors looks forward to next month’s meeting which will be open to the public with limited seating indoors.