Finding a way to draw locals, visitors

Playing outside is something I enjoyed much more as a child than I do now. Children just don’t pay any attention to being too hot or sweaty like adults do, especially as we get older.

But my son has started getting us out and about a little more. In just more than a month, we’ve been to Riverside Park in Mount Airy to ride at the skateboard park, been on the greenway and done 4.5 miles once, been to the playground at Elkin Municipal Park, and just last week we tried out the playground and splashpad at the new downtown Dobson park.

It’s not the first time we’ve enjoyed a free splashpad. There is one in Greensboro that we’ve visited a couple of times with my sister’s family, who live there. So I knew what to expect.

It was nice to cool off in the spray from the water elements and then go hang from playground equipment just a few feet away. The clouds that passed by that afternoon kept us cooler even when we weren’t playing in the water, which will soak you to the bone.

Attractions like the splashpad and activities to keep families and people coming downtown are what make the investment in them worth the cost.

While it is a free activity, the people who come to use it are likely to spend money at nearby restaurants and gas stations, or visit area stores while they’re in town, thus boosting the economy and attracting families to a place they may decide to call home, which boosts the tax base as well.

The same goes for the parks in Mount Airy. Providing a great place to play and exercise, or go fishing like we did last weekend, is something that makes the community attractive to families, and to businesses looking to put in a new facility.

Elkin also has a great deal going for it, as does nearby Yadkin and Wilkes counties. With EVTA continuing its efforts to extend the Mountain to Seas Trail and the E&A Rail Trail, this is a great outdoor activity for the whole family.

The local municipal park has a fun playground with picnic areas, and the nearby pool is now open for the season as well.

Jonesville has a greenway now, but signage to get to it need to be more prominent from the main roads through town. If it weren’t for some articles that have been done, I would never know it existed. I do look forward to visiting it sometime to see what it has to offer.

Lake Hampton and the Yadkin Memorial Park that opened a few months ago also is a draw the trails, fishing and boating opportunities, play area for kids and hunting. And that facility promises more to come in future phases of its development.

The area should continue to look for ways to keep families in town on the weekends, rather than traveling off to Winston-Salem or Wilkesboro or other bigger municipalities. The cruise-ins are a good draw and lots of fun, but more activities could be offered.

Elkin might consider something similar to what other area towns do with a movie in the park night, or a children’s festival at the park offering crafts and other activities. A fishing in the park day would be another nice addition.

Some type of teen time would be nice as well. These teens are future leaders, and we want to make sure there is enough here to draw them back to the community for careers and after-hours happenings once they finish their college education.

I didn’t grow up in a small town. I was in Winston-Salem through the end of elementary school, and then in Oak Ridge/Summerfield just 10 minutes outside of Greensboro in middle and high school. So there was always plenty to keep us busy.

When I went off to Brevard College, I got to really experience small-town life, albeit on a college campus, and I loved the offerings it had. There were coffee houses with board games, music and poetry nights. There were little restaurants with bars and weekly music to draw in locals and college students.

These are things that drew people to the downtown area, and they were free. With being free, those who attended then had money to spend on things like drinks, food, books, souvenirs, without feeling they couldn’t buy those because all their money had been on the entertainment only.

I would love to see Elkin and other surrounding towns capitalize on the beautiful downtown it has and offer more for the locals and visitors to do. The wines are a good draw, but people want something to do once they get done with tastings. And we should want them hanging around for a few days rather than just going to a winery or two and then leaving the area.

What do you do on the weekends and evenings? Share your events with us at, or email me with activities that would interest you at As someone who is still learning the community, I’d love to know what is happening that my family would love driving here from Pilot Mountain to take part in.

Just as Dobson is learning since the development of its downtown park, “if you build it, they will come.”

Wendy Byerly Wood is editor of The Tribune, The Yadkin Ripple and The Pilot. She may be reached at, 336-258-4035 or on Twitter @wendywoodeditor.

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