M’boro receives tourism grant

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 29, 2003

MURFREESBORO -On October 21, State Commerce Secretary Jim Fein announced that Murfreesboro Historical Association was one of 27 recipients of tourism marketing grants.

The $4,605.30 grant will be used to promote Historic Murfreesboro as an off-season destination for targeted North Carolina and Virginia markets.

&uot;This grant program plays an important role in economic development by encouraging communities across the state to develop and promote tourism in their area,&uot; said Fein.

The grants were awarded to applicants with destination marketing organizations, local government agencies and non-profit organizations with a tourism focus.

Financing for the distribution of monies was derived from approximately $130,000 in matching funds grants set aside for tourism related initiatives across the state of North Carolina.

&uot;We are really excited about this grant,&uot; said Dale Neighbors, Executive Director of Murfreesboro Historical Association.

&uot;The Historical Association rarely has finances available for marketing and advertising because the finances we possess have to cover other, more immediate needs like everyday operating costs.

This grant will allow us to promote the beautiful historical assets the town has to offer.&uot;

The matching funds grants program is designed to assist in promotional activities for destination marketing organizations and other tourism related promotional entities.

According to Neighbors, the grant money, which was initially going to be directed towards promoting the town’s famous Candlelight Christmas Tour, will more than likely be used for promoting other events because the timing of the grant.

&uot;We used to hold the Lafayette Ball every other year at the Jenkins Center but that was before the building underwent its renovation,&uot; said Neighbors.

&uot;It’s usually held in February, which traditionally marks the date Lafayette, the French General who helped America fight for its independence against the English in the Revolutionary War, visited Murfreesboro.

&uot;As the story goes, Lafayette wanted to see the south and scheduled a tour of the area.

Delegates from Raleigh were supposed to greet him at the border of the town and escort him through the area.

&uot;However, it had rained so much that, while en-route to their destination, the carriage wheel got stuck in the mud and they were unable to give the General the welcome they had hoped to give him.

&uot;When the citizens of the town heard about their misfortune, they agreed to band together and arranged for another carriage to meet him.

He missed some of the events they had planned in his honor but he was able to attend the ball that evening, hence the reason why we have named the event, the Lafayette Ball.

&uot;The ball served as a fun and interactive reminder of the history of our nation and the contributions from those who helped us to become who we are today.&uot;

Neighbor said that the Historic Association would be using the money from the grant to market upcoming events in the winter and spring months, such as the revival of the Lafayette Ball, which is under discussion and a Civil War tour.

Other recipients in the area included:

**$3,150 to Chowan County Tourism Development Authority to be used for a cooperative advertising campaign to promote the county.

**$6,750 to Roanoke River Partners, Inc (Halifax County) to redesign and upgrade the Roanoke River Partner’s tourism web pages.

**$6,750 to Martin County Travel and Tourism Authority to produce a new media kit and be used to promote Carolina County Stampede.

**$6,750 to Halifax County Tourism Development Authority to finance an Interstate billboard ad campaign.

**$3,150 Gates County to be used to develop promotional materials to market &uot;The Inner Banks – ‘Jewels of the Land and Sea.’&uot;

Funding levels vary depending on the county’s economic distress ranking.

For more information on the Division of Tourism’s grant program, contact Sherrill Normann at 919-733-7501.

Program information and guidelines are available online at www.nccommerce.com/tourism/grants.