Highland Economic Development Authority Looks To Floyd County For Tourism Development Ideas
Monterey, VA – In late January, several members of the Highland County Economic Development Authority traveled south to Floyd County to learn how its citizens transformed Floyd into a popular tourist destination. EDA member Kirk Billingsley talks about the trip.
“January 24th, several members of the Highland EDA as well as the tourism subcommittee went to Floyd, Virginia,” he says. “Floyd’s a small town in a rural area just south of Roanoake and east of Christiansburg up against the Blue Ridge parkway. And they’ve had quite a bit of success in tourism in the last few years. They are part of the Crooked Road Trail and the Around The Mountain Trail which are both tourism initiatives in that area of the state.”
“Floyd’s a town that promotes its authenticity which has always been centered around bluegrass and traditional Appalachian music.”
Mr. Billingsley goes on to say more about why Floyd is of such great interest to the Highland EDA.
“We went down basically to find out a little bit more how did this get started, what did you do to make all these things happen?,” says Billingsley. “We were met by several folks from the EDA of Floyd and we went to several of the businesses; Hotel Floyd, Floyd Country Store, the Jacksonville Center which is an arts center there. Floyd’s a small town, a little bit bigger than Monterey, and actually Floyd County’s quite a bit bigger than Highland County.”
“However in a number of ways they are like Highland; it’s very small, they’re tucked away, not easy to get to, they don’t have any major highways there. But several of the people in their community have come together to change the image of Floyd and now they are a tourist destination.”
Floyd County’s population is just over 15,000 and the town of Floyd itself has a population of about 430. This coming July the four day long FloydFest is expected to attract over 14,000 people per day to the festival grounds where 11 different stages will feature music from a variety of genres. Next, Mr. Billingsley comments on how Floyd became such a significant tourist destination.
“It’s a mixture of private investment as well as grants that were able to put money into the facades of some of the buildings and really fixed up the downtown where it is very attractive for tourists to go now,” he says. “While we obviously don’t have that musical heritage that Floyd has, we have our own, and I think there’s some of those things that we saw down in Floyd that can be applied to our own county that they did down there that we can do up here. Everybody was a little excited about what they saw and how they transformed that little town; because it be not a real pleasant town, didn’t have the best reputation. Now it is quite a little place to go.”