CASSVILLE—Visitors are invited to take a trip along the Mighty Mississippi and experience rural Wisconsin life in the early 1900s at the Great River Road Festival. The Stonefield Historic Site will host the event with the help of a $450 Joint Effort Marketing (JEM) grant, presented by Department of Tourism Secretary Stephanie Klett. Taking place Sept. 19, the Great River Road Festival will feature activities like blacksmithing, log cutting, beekeeping, and farming demonstrations to connect visitors with the heritage of Mississippi River communities and Stonefield. Festival organizers estimate an economic impact of $12,500 from traveler spending at area hotels, restaurants and stores.
“We are thrilled to support the Great River Road Festival, an event that celebrates the legacy of the stunning Great River Road National Scenic Byway,” said Klett.
In fiscal 2014, the Department funded 60 Joint Effort Marketing projects, awarding a total of more than $1.1 million dollars. Visitor expenditures driven by the marketing from these projects will exceed $28 million dollars. In 2014, the tourism economy in Wisconsin totaled $18.5 billion, a more than five percent increase over 2013. Total business sales in Grant County topped $77 million in 2014, supporting more than 880 jobs and over $5 million in state and local taxes.
In 1938, President Franklin D. Roosevelt established the Great River Road along the Mississippi River. The Wisconsin portion winds 250 miles through 33 small towns from Prescott to Potosi and has been voted “Prettiest Drive in America” by Huffington Post readers. The festival will feature events reflecting life in the 1900s, including demonstrations of blacksmithing, log cutting, and farm life, an antique tractor display, and wagon rides. Visitors can stop in the Saloon to wet their whistle with beer and root beer. In addition, author Jerry Apps will have programs and will be available to sign his book, Whispers and Shadows and Wisconsin Agriculture, a History. Visitors can also enjoy live music, including original river music. The grant funds will go towards online advertising.
“This is the third year for the Great River Road Festival which has become a premier event to celebrate the Great River Road as well as all that Stonefield Historic Site has to offer,” said Allen Schroeder, director of Stonefield Historic Site.
JEM grant funds are available to non-profit organizations for the promotion of Wisconsin tourism events and destinations. The state can fund up to 75 percent of a project’s first year advertising and marketing costs and provides support for second and third year projects, but with decreasing amounts for funding each year until projects become self-sustaining. For information on the JEM Program and application materials, visit http://industry.travelwisconsin.com.
The mission of the Wisconsin Department of Tourism is to market the state as the Midwest’s premier travel destination for fun. By executing industry-leading marketing programs, providing reliable travel information and establishing strategic partnerships, we will play a significant role in delivering exceptional customer service and generating greater economic impact and jobs for Wisconsin. The portal for traveler information can be found at: www.travelwisconsin.com.