Canterbury showcases countryside at picnic
By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Canterbury - posted Mon., Jul. 8, 2013
For Canterbury Economic Development Commission member Jill Fritzsche, promoting business means promoting Canterbury's beauty. “Right now our whole marketing plan is 'Canterbury. Nice Country.' We want to attract businesses that promote that theme, whether it's farming, bed and breakfasts or recreational businesses,” she said.
What better way to highlight that aim than to invite the public to see that beautiful countryside for themselves? On June 30, the EDC did just that by sponsoring the first annual “Paddle, Pedal and Picnic.” A 20-mile, constable-escorted bike ride took bikers through some of the town's pristine rural landscape. A two-and-a-half-hour paddle let kayakers follow a stretch of the Quinebaug River where they saw bald eagles and osprey. Bikers and paddlers and all others who came to Manship Park feasted on burgers, hot dogs and cold drinks after their excursions.
“We're really going after tourism and tourism-related businesses,” Fritzsche said, “because that's what we have and that's truly what we want to promote. We want to grow organically from there.”
EDC member Erik Swanson said the bike ride and paddle were meant to draw in newcomers. He chose the route to highlight the countryside, but also to introduce businesses to the community. Stops at Quinebaug Kennel and White Cap Stables gave riders a chance to rest, re-hydrate and learn about the town's offerings. “We have to support the businesses we have and show that it can work. The point of the bike ride is to bring in people from out of town so they can appreciate Canterbury.”
The EDC's campaign combines technological savvy with home-spun values. The EDC's website, www.canterburybiz.com, highlights its slogan, “Canterbury. Nice Country.” on top of a shot of paddlers on the Quinebaug. Below that is a slide show of some of the town's businesses, from the Prudence Crandall Museum to Ed's Garage. Viewers can find contact information for commission members, resources for people wanting to establish businesses in town, an events calendar and a link to the town's website. The site has a listing of all the town's businesses, a locator map and contact information as well. And any business owner can be an administrator of the site, changing or adding information to their listing whenever they choose.
The commission also created a Facebook page, www.facebook.com/pages/Canterbury-Nice-Country. By linking them with the town's official website, the ease and value of the Internet is available to all town businesses.
“We are here to help Canterbury businesses get some attention and exposure,” Tucker said. “We have incredible, lovely, creative, fun, entrepreneurial businesses in town that if someone knew about them they'd get more business. That's really what the EDC stands for – to promote businesses.”
But don't expect the EDC to court or encourage big box stores. Their plan is to promote the Route 169 corridor, one of the only designated scenic roads in the state, which already brings in a lion's share of tourism traffic. Fritzsche said the town would like to see water recreation, fishing tours, farming and cottage-type businesses establish themselves. “The river's never been healthier,” she said.
Tucker would like to see riding trails established. “Our best asset is our landscape, our beautiful town, our agriculture,” she said. “We have something very picturesque. We have a designated scenic highway in Route 169, and a designated greenway in the Quinebaug River.”
Swanson is already making plans for next year's event. The bike ride will be scheduled earlier in the day so riders who want to paddle can do both. He hopes to get more businesses involved. And by building a platform for the town and its businesses, he hopes to attract more people. “The point of it is to bring in people from out of town to appreciate Canterbury,” he said. “If we have a proven track record, people will come back.”