Residents and visitors alike are encouraged to participate Saturday in a trail day event to support an effort to have Elizabethtown officially recognized by the Kentucky Office of Adventure Tourism as a Kentucky Trail Town.
Participants will gather at 10 a.m. at the Brown-Pusey House where they can enjoy snacks and refreshments before embarking on a trail. After their trail visit, the people then will be asked to give feedback in a short survey, which will be included in the application to make Elizabethtown a Kentucky Trail Town.
The Trail Town program is designed to help communities use natural trails to promote tourism and commerce. The Elizabethtown Trail Town Advisory Board was created in December to help the city gain Trail Town status.
“The Kentucky Trail Town program is simply a program through the Kentucky Tourism Bureau as a way to promote ecotourism and outdoor recreation activities and connect different communities through a trail system throughout Kentucky,” said Matt Deneen, board chairman and city councilman.
He said with the city’s Greenbelt Trail system — developed and maintained by local nonprofit Greenspace — the designation is a natural fit for Elizabethtown. Deneen said since Greenspace began in 1974, Elizabethtown’s trail system has been a major part of the community’s identity.
Currently, 17 designated Trail Towns exist in the state, including Berea and Munfordville.
The Elizabethtown Trail Town Advisory Board is made up of community members representing Greenspace, the Lincoln Trail Area Developmental District, Elizabethtown Heritage Council, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and more. It previously was reported the board is made up of trail, volunteer, signage and merchant committees and a committee responsible for funding, public relations and education.
“It’s wonderful because this project has really encompassed so many from Hardin County,” Deneen said.
Jeff Proctor, advisory board member and president of the Central Kentucky Wheelmen bicycle club, said increasing the visibility of Elizabethtown as an ecotourism destination also brings a big boost to the economy.
“Whenever somebody comes to town to ride a trail or whatever, they are going to spend time in the community at hotels, restaurants and so forth,” he said, noting it also brings more opportunity for races to the area.
Elizabethtown Tourism and Convention Bureau Executive Director Janna Clark agreed.
“Becoming an official trail town in Kentucky provides wonderful opportunities for our outdoor enthusiasts,” she said. “Being one of only 18 Kentucky towns to receive this designation will be a tribute to the work and effort by Greenspace and all the volunteers that help maintain and promote our premium trails.
“Trail towns are special,” she added. “Trail towns are for ‘getting away from it all’ in nature without going far and enjoying safe, quality trails in our area.”
Deneen said during Saturday’s trail event, Dr. Paul Gerard hosts a Turtle Walk, a live animal presentation. It starts at 11 a.m. along the trail at Buffalo Lake, he said.
He said those who participate Saturday and take the survey will be given a bracelet that will give them several discounts at downtown shops and restaurants. He said participants then could visit the Kentucky Craft Beer Festival.
For anyone who is unable to attend Saturday’s event, an online survey soon will be made available. To follow the initiative, go to the Help Make Elizabethtown a Kentucky Trail Town Facebook page.