“So, tell me about yourself,” a newfound friend asks.
“Well, uh, whaddaya want to know?” you say.
“Oh, I don’t know. Where are you from? What do you do? …” You know the drill.
Now, tell me about the hometown, someone asks. Tell me about Elkin.
Well, whatdaya want to know?
Do you tell about the early pioneers? The Chatham mill? Railroads, cars, trucks, highways? The mountains and the river?
Or what about the 21st Century tourism economy, the trails and vineyards and such? There’s downtown and then there are the superstores in North Elkin.
Just what can you say about Elkin? What should you say?
The questions hit like a ton of bricks as more than 50 of us sat down in the fresh, new Heritage Center downtown last Thursday for a working luncheon on ideas.
They’ve done wonders with the old lumber store on Standard Street near the river. An extensive renovation has transformed the building into an inviting, spacious visitors center that will be run by the chamber of commerce and will do the town proud. There’s a cozy fireplace for winter, a kitchen for luncheons and dinners, bathrooms with showers for hikers, and several rooms with elbow room and space to dream.
They’re looking at a spring opening.
But right now the Heritage Center is empty. The floors are polished but bare. We have a wonderful opportunity to outfit our visitors center from scratch with the best and most impressive furnishings we can find.
Think of what you have hanging on your walls and sitting on your floors at home. What family photos have you hung? What books and mementos are on your coffee table?
So now what shall we hang and what shall we place in our collective Elkin living room, the Heritage Center? We’ve got company coming. We want to look our best.
After all, who knows who-all will come calling in the years ahead? The high and mighty, the lowly and meek. We want to say to them all come and sit a spell, newfound friends. Let us tell you about …
At the luncheon, the Elkin area folks focused on a theme of why should people, particularly millennials, come here first to visit and then to resettle. A number of familiar faces from around town as well as some not so easily recognized spoke of using 21st Century methods such as apps and smartphones to tell our story.
In particular, I await to see what they do with former Tribune publisher Rebel Good’s suggestion: borrowing an idea from a Wisconsin town, he said build a giant corkscrew (symbolic of our Yadkin Valley vineyards, get it?) in front of the Heritage Center that will draw the curious off the interstate for a looksee.
They’re still entertaining ideas. Why don’t you call the chamber with yours?
What a complementary bookend the Heritage Center will be to the fine visitors center they created a few years ago in the foyer of the new Jonesville Town Hall. We await to see what Elkin does now.
After all, we want to be neighborly to our guests. We want to say, y’all come back now. Ya hear.
Stephen Harris returned home to live in State Road.