Chairman Roger Wadrop, Development Authority of Polk County (DAPC), said it is a significant industry. He believes that local officials and community leaders need to find additional ways to bring people here to spend money.
Janie Harris, a visitor from Virginia, shares his opinion. She said she has attended local events but did not know there was so much to see and do until the 2012 Homespun Festival.
“This county is like a hidden jewel waiting for someone to find it,” she said.
Visitors from other states and countries also come to ride the Silver Comet. The list includes people from Canada, England, The Netherlands, Denmark and Alaska.
“Many note that the Silver Comet Trail is one of the nicest in the United States,” said Ramona Ruark, Main Street Director, Cedartown.
Tourists also find their way to the offices of the Polk County Chamber of Commerce in Rockmart and Cedartown.
Executive Director Tameka Hudson said they come for a variety of reasons.
“We are here to promote commerce in whatever way we can,” she said. “Business helps grow our tax base and tourists bring buying power. We have a restaurant guide in our lobby and there is a brochure on the Silver Comet Trail.”
Greg Gray and Jean Laltrello, Tourism Committee, help draw attention to the rich history of this area.
Gray has outlined a proposal for a brochure/map of the 200+ cemeteries.
“The historic Van Wert Church is the oldest standing building in Polk,” he said. “Famous evangelist Sam P. Jones started his preaching career there.”
Gray pointed out that a two-day skirmish was fought on the church grounds during the Civil War and that the land could be developed into a battlefield park.
“We could bring tourism to Polk County through our history and heritage,” he said.
Meanwhile, President Eric McDonald, DAPC, is working with Director Bruce Green, Tourism Product Development at Georgia Department of Economic Development.
The Tourism Product Development Office has created a new initiative to focus technical assistance in the form of a reconnaissance and strategy visit to a local community interested in developing its tourism potential.
“We hope to get on a waiting list for a visit to Polk.” McDonald said. “This would help us determine our strengths and weaknesses and develop a strategic plan for marketing our wealth to visitors. We need to take all of the separate pieces and package them.”