T & T Board firms up eclipse plans
Will Graham County be swamped with visitors when the moon blocks out the sun for two-and-a-half minutes on August 21?
County Travel & Tourism Board members wish they knew.
“I’ve heard 20,000 to 30,000,” board member Jessica Wehr said during a solar eclipse planning meeting Thursday.
“There’s no way to tell,” board member Revonda Williams replied.
So the board is proceeding with the philosophy that it’s better to be overprepared than underprepared:
* Portable bathrooms and wash stations have been ordered;
* Parking spots are being lined up;
* Traffic control is being discussed;
* Bleachers have been reserved;
* Additional law enforcement personnel has been recruited for traffic control;
* Five hundred t-shirts have been ordered;
* Shuttles to viewing stations at Huckleberry and Hooper Bald are being considered;
* 15,000 more county maps have been ordered;
* Restaurant owners have been consulted (Williams: “They feel like they’ll be pretty much overwhelmed.”);
* A raffle of commemorative U.S. Postal Service stamps is being considered.
Those details were revealed at Thursday’s information sharing meeting attended by 11 community members.
What the board does know is that every rental in the county is booked for the weekend before the Monday, Aug. 21 eclipse.
That fact has T&T members optimistic the solar eclipse could be a financial boon for Graham County. And they’re acting accordingly.
The board agreed to spend $3,500 to print and distribute 15,000 to 20,000 copies of Road Trip to the Sun, an all-inclusive guide that will be available at local events, and inserted in The Graham Star, The Andrews Journal, and The Cherokee Scout.
Board members are also planning an event at Robbinsville High School that will feature crafters and antique sellers, a bounce house for kids, snow cones, and live music from Hannah Styles and South 129 on Saturday (7 to 10 p.m.), and live bluegrass music by Fontana Ramblers on Sunday. Seventeen craft/antique dealers and four vendors are already committed to the event. And there’s room for more. Reserve your free space by calling the T&T office at 479-3790 or Revonda Williams at 735-1300.
The T&T crafts/antique fair isn’t the only special event. Stecoah Valley Cultural Arts Center has a bash planned, in addition to educational events leading up to the big day.
Watch The Graham Star and the Star’s Facebook page for updates on solar eclipse events.
The T&T Board will meet with county officials Friday. The next community solar eclipse planning meeting will be July 27.