is There Money to be Made in Your Backyard?
Is there money to be made in your backyard? This was the title of one of the workshops at the economic summit held recently. Claudia Crump was first to speak, she spoke on creating festivals and niches for your community and building around the assets already in place.
Crump is the founder of the Panquitch Quilt Walk which is in its seventh year. She said she moved to Panguitch seven years ago, when she and husband, Leon bought a home with no windows, doors or walls. People told her there was nothing in Panguitch, but Crump said she has been busier now, living in Panguitch than at any other time in her life. She works full time for the Department of Agriculture. After moving to Panguitch she was recruited to help with the Centennial Ball. "Festivals are a unique part of the history of Panguitch. In 1864, the early settlers of Panguitch did not have enough food to make it through the winter. A few men left in wagons to travel to Parowan for provisions. Ten miles out of Panguitch the snow was so deep they couldn't go any further. They lay a quilt on the ground and knelt in prayer to ask for help to be able to continue their mission. When they arose from prayer, they noticed they did not sink in the snow while standing on the quilt. So they lay quilts down and rather like leap frogs made their way to Parowan to get provisions and save the town." This story of the early settlers gave Crump the idea for a Quilt Walk.
The festival is held the first or second week of June which is a slow time in Panguitch. The first year 30 ladies showed up and 300 quilts were on display. Classes are held during the days of the Quilt Walk and speakers talk on new ideas in quilting. A home tour is also organized to tour the historic homes of the town.
Each year the Quilt Walk has grown and new things have been added like a cowboy action shoot, play, craft and heritage fair. At the heritage fair, people learn to spin and card wool, churn butter and other forgotten arts.
"The ladies bring their families and the men go fishing, they buy gas, they stay in the motels and eat in the restaurants," said Crump. "It is a good opportunity to talk up your town. We are proud to have people come to Panguitch. Be open to new ideas. Let people tell you what they want. We also advertise in quilting magazines," said Crump.
"Build a festival, we went through Winnemucca, Nev. and their festival is called the Arm Pit of the West; they are making something out of nothing and creating a successful festival. Make up a new festival and have fun," said Crump.
Crump said other activities along with the Quilt Walk include a booster club Dutch oven dinner and a breakfast. She emphasized that it is important to get the whole community involved in the festival and involve other groups so everyone can see a benefit from hosting a festival. She also mentioned that Panguitch hosts a Harley Festival, BMW Festival and a Balloon Festival each year.
The Green River Chamber of Commerce was present at this workshop and they commented that they would like to expand the Green River Melon Days into a four day festival in the future.
Cathy Gardner from Green River spoke next at the workshop. She is the owner of Ray's Tavern and Cathy's Pizza in Green River. She said she began working at the Tamarisk Restaurant, and was asked one year to do a booth at Melon Days. She then began making sandwiches for the gas station. A burger place in town came up for sale and the owner co-signed the loan and Gardner was off and running.
She had been operating the pizza place for three years, when the owner of Ray's Tavern wanted to sell out and Gardner bought Ray's Tavern as well. "It is a challenge to be in the tourism business. A lot of our customers are outdoor clientele who visit the area and people attending meetings in Green River. We have to be ready to make changes. We handle new requests. One group that came in just wanted rice and chicken. Times change. When we added a veggie-burger to the menu, one of my employees quit and when we added a credit card machine, one of them quit. They just couldn't handle the changes. We are world famous and have had groups from all over the world eat at Rays. They know that Cathy will take care of them. I also have the best help in the world.
"I had never cooked before my first day at Cathy's and it was the lunch rush and my friend Arturo Mendoza came through the back door and started helping me out. My employees are good to me and I am good to them. They have medical insurance and a retirement plan. I don't worry about my employees. I can send them to the bank and they can do everything I do. I never ask an employee to do something I wouldn't do. My employees take pride in our business. People will travel to Green River just to come to Rays. We have been featured in a kayak magazine and also voted the Best Boater Bar. We count on word of mouth advertisement. You will never be disappointed with the food at Rays. Keep it simple, keep your menu simple and keep people coming back for your product and service," said Gardner. Gardner advertises on the Green River website and in all of the motel rooms in town.
Ken Kraus represented the Tavaputs Ranch for Butch and Jeanie Jensen who were busy at the ranch with a group of hunters. He said at Tavaputs they have a personal approach to business. They work hard and love the public. They specialize in hospitality lodging. The Jensens are proud of their ranch heritage. Years ago the family realized they could supplement their income by hosting dudes at the ranch. The Jensens understand you don't have to change who you are and their easy down home atmosphere keeps people coming back. Kraus said he recently took a group of journalists to Tavaputs and articles will be appearing in the Cowboys and Indians magazine about the ranch.
Emery County Sheriff Lamar Guymon said sometimes people give up too soon when things do not happen as fast as they think they should.
He mentioned the San Rafael Fall Bike Festival which only had 35 riders the first year and some people thought that wasn't enough participation and the event should be cancelled. "Don't give up," said Guymon.
Another example of not giving up is the Arapeen ATV Jamboree held recently in Ferron.
The first year there were seven registered riders and the second year there were more than 40 riders attending, many of them from out of state.
Kraus mentioned he was in charge of building a summer tourism base for Brian Head Ski Resort.
It took a lot of work, but eventually they created events that attracted people to the resort during the off season.
The main theme of the workshop was optimism and creating a can do attitude which can help you work your way to success in starting new ventures.