Yesterday I started pulling together our Calendar of Events. Tourism studies show that a visitor to a region considers anything within a two hour radius of their home base to be a reasonable day trip. So between our family and our guests, we compile a table of suggested activities that don’t usually make it into the guide books. Guests can access this calendar on their own computers (Searsport Shores is wi-fi), on the computer station in the rec hall or we’ll print off an itinerary at the reservation desk.
There are thousands of things that go on in Maine and we apply two filters to our choices: Is it authentic? Is it within the magic two hour circle? You may wonder why we care about authenticity rather than popularity. We have one goal in mind for our guests. We want them to return home knowing that they visited a place different from where they came from.
In this age of homogenization, its easy to never leave your comfort zone. Vacations are that magical time when you can add something new to your life. In the most basic way it comes down to where you shop, eat and play. If you need river shoes for a kayak trip you make a choice…you can drive to Walmart and find the same stuff in Rockland, Maine as you do in Trenton, New Jersey or you can shop at Reny’s Department store in Belfast and find something different. If you’re hungry for a doughnut, you can go to the local Dunkin Doughnut’s in Belfast (not a bad choice) or you can go to Weaver’s Bakery and buy apple fritters glazed with their own maple syrup. But you can only make that choice if you know that you have options.
I think you find the same opportunities when you plan a day trip. We could direct our guests to a fair that has the same midway and the same shows as anywhere USA or we can highlight the Common Ground Fair where all of the food must be produced in Maine and afternoon entertainment includes working sheep dogs. We can suggest a big name concert at the Augusta Civic Center or direct guests to the Flye Pointe Art and Music Festival for a day on one of the prettiest shores in the world.
Of course, there’s more work involved in finding and promoting the small events run by volunteers and micro businesses. Yesterday I found that most still aren’t updated with a 2007 schedule…so I have e-mails out all over the place and by this weekend, I’ll have a hot link for you to see some of what we’re suggesting our guests do this summer. If you have a suggestion, please send it along…they’re always welcome!