More than 100 people gathered in the Reeves Theater Thursday night, not for a concert, but to view a new history film about Elkin and begin planning the inaugural NC Trail Days festival for 2019.
To kick off the meeting, Explore Elkin shared with those attending a new 13-minute film about Elkin’s history created by John Litschke of J Martin Productions. The film features area residents such as Jason Couch, a local historian, Dr. Hal Stuart, Tom Gwyn, Jack Partin, librarian Martha Smith, Fred Eidson and Fred Norman.
“We want to attract some people to the Elkin community,” said Jeff Eidson, chairman of Explore Elkin, as he opened the Trail Days portion of the gathering. “Everything we do is designed with that in mind.”
He said he hopes to not just attract people for the weekend of Trail Days, but for a more long-term venture of moving to the area. “They are the perfect demographic. They are financially stable, active, healthy, environmentally conscience people,” Eidson said.
Denise Lyon, who has previously chaired Trail Days in Damascus, Virginia, which celebrates the Appalachian Trail as its thru-hikers pass through, has agreed to spearhead the NC Trail Days festival, May 31 through June 2, 2019.
Lyon and Bob Hillyer provided some background on the Elkin Valley Trails Association and its projects, past and future, and then Lyon opened the floor for ideas of activities for the weekend festival.
“I’m a businessman, and in business, we have a saying, ‘You differentiate or you die,’” said Hillyer. “In business, you have to tell a customer why you’re different, why you’re better. This also applies to towns. Elkin has to differentiate itself from a hundred other struggling textile towns all over the south, and we’re doing that right now.
“One of the things we’re coming up with is Trail Days,” he said. “There are two things I’m going to ask you to do tonight. First of all, we want your ideas, your comments, your suggestions. We need your ideas. The second thing is your hearts and minds and souls, because we’re going to need a lot of volunteers. I promise two things, we’ll work very, very hard next year and we’ll have a lot of fun.”
“We have a whole lot to be proud of,” said Lyon. “You really love your town, and there is a lot of heart in this room and you want to see us do things in this town to make it thrive, so we really thing North Carolina Trail Days will be the next best thing for our town, to showcase our town, to let us all have a lot of fun and bring a lot of visitors to our town so they can have fun, too.
“This is about a lot more than a trail. What Elkin Valley Trails Association and what we’re doing tonight is about building community, and it’s about all this wonderful love and community spirit coming out. That gives me faith we can put together this festival and have a great festival,” she said.
Ideas of activities and events for next year’s Trail Days included everything from scavenger hunts along the trails for children; PokeGo activities around town; a no-water kayak race on land; a triathlon (running, biking, paddling); a marathon at Stone Mountain State Park; workshops on such topics as birdwatching, cooking for backpacking, survival and more; a contra dance; a children’s zone of activities; tent city for those wanting to camp; special led hikes; bringing in an outfitter vendor area; quilt show along the trail; and much more.
Other suggestions can be made via the Elkin Valley Trails Association or Explore Elkin websites, elkinvalleytrails.org and exploreelkin.com. A website specifically for NC Trail Days is under construction.
Wendy Byerly Wood may be reached at 336-258-4035 or on Twitter @wendywoodeditor.