Q&A - January 13, 2017

I have known so many people who live in a town where there is a popular tourist attraction who say they have never visited the attraction. People who live in beach towns that don’t go to the beach—people that live near a mountain resort who have never been to the resort property. They benefit from the tourist dollars in their community but never find time to visit the attraction themselves. How can they expect to be ambassadors for tourism in their community if they have no firsthand knowledge of those things that attract tourists to their community?

Let’s discuss how each of us can become better ambassadors for Okmulgee.

Q:What can I do to help with tourism in town?

I’ve heard a good host will occasionally spend the night in his/her own guest bedroom to experience the accommodations from the perspective of an overnight guest. How comfortable is the bed? Are there enough quilts and pillows? Does the ceiling fan or alarm clock work properly? Are there distracting lights or noises in the room? Is there space for a few extra clothes in the dresser or closet?

This idea of being a dutiful host got me thinking. Perhaps this idea of “putting yourself in someone else’s shoes” can also be applied to a town that wants to serve as a good host for tourists and visitors. If we want Okmulgee to be a town people enjoy visiting and will tell others about, perhaps we should try to experience it from their perspective—spend the night in our own guest bedroom so to speak.

This starts by attending the events in town designed to attract visitors and tourists. Some of the big public events held last year in Okmulgee or annual events that attract tourists to our community include: the Mvskoke Nation Festival, the Okmulgee Invitational Rodeo & Festival, the Pecan Festival, the 6x6 Canvas Art Show, the Art & Food Market, the Voices of Okmulgee Competition, OrangeFest, Cruise Nights, Fishing Tournaments, the Farmer’s Market, Karaoke in the Park, the Harvest Spoon Chili Fest, the 48 Hour Film Festival, the Car & Truck Show, Scare on the Square, the Festival of Lights Parade, and the Sparkle Spree Grand Prize Drawing.

I know you cannot be expected to attend every single event held in town, but try to attend as many as you can. You and your family will enjoy yourselves, but more importantly, your presence will help demonstrate community support and will encourage others.

There are also a variety of things to do in or around Okmulgee, and we should try to familiarize ourselves with some of these permanent attractions so we can tell others about them. A few that come to mind include: Okmulgee and Dripping Springs Lakes, Deep Fork National Wildlife Refuge, the Wilderness Paradise Zoo, the historic Orpheum Theater, the YMCA Aquatic Park, City Splash Pads, the Muscogee Creek Nation Tribal Complex, One Fire Casino, and don’t forget the Creek Council House.

Before we can encourage tourist to visit Okmulgee, we need to experience Okmulgee. Please continue to send me your great questions osuit-president@okstate.edu.