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Working together to Spread the Word

If I haven’t mentioned it before, our region has a very difficult time with promoting tourism…but I guess that’s why we are such an authentic place to visit. We were having dinner a couple of nights ago with a few Searsport friends and it wasn’t long before we were talking about how the state seems to miss our part of the world completely when it comes to distributing both promotion dollars and media exposure. A bottle of wine later we decided to take matters into our own hands. This is the letter that we wrote and will be distributing to all of the businesses along Route One from Belfast to Bucksport. If we’re successful, when you come to visit you’ll hear a buzz…if I fail, at least you’ll know to ask:

Our windows are polished and the merchandise is on the shelves…It’s time for us to shine!

As spring passes into summer, those of us in the business of welcoming visitors to beautiful Midcoast Maine have cause to celebrate two recent developments of major significance.

The first, the newly built Penobscot Narrows Bridge, lies at the head of the bay. The BridgeFest celebration is planned for Saturday, June 23rd. A revolutionary example of cable-stayed engineering, this soaring span is unique in the Western Hemisphere in providing a public observatory. Located some 420 feet above the grounds of Fort Knox State Park in Prospect, Maine’s most-visited historic site, the three-level observatory atop the bridge’s western pylon offers breathtaking views south past the Camden Hills, east to Cadillac Mountain on Mount Desert Island and northwest to Mount Katahdin in Baxter State Park at the upper terminus of the Appalachian Trail. The BridgeFest runs from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and includes a Civil War re-enactment, vendors, tours of the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Thunder Bay, music and fireworks. For more information visit http://www.bucksportbaychamber.come/news.html.

Less heralded but every bit as significant, the other development concerns Sears Island, truly the gem of Penobscot Bay. Connected by a causeway to the Searsport mainland just a mile east of busy Route One, this 941-acre state-owned island has the distinction of being the largest and most accessible totally wild island property in public hands along the Eastern Seaboard.

Last month following a year and a half of intense negotiation, the state agreed to a recommendation intended to end four decades of contention over the fate of the island. This recommendation has the governor’s endorsement and is certain to win legislative approval. For the first time in its history the entirety of the totally uninhabited, totally undeveloped island is being formally set aside for the enjoyment of the public. The low-impact recreational possibilities guaranteed under this agreement include hiking the myriad of island trails and exploring on foot or by kayak five and a half miles of continuous wild shoreline.

Let’s work together and create a buzz. Like the Penobscot Marine Museum’s successful pirates campaign, we can line Route One with messages encouraging visitors to take advantage of our most accessible natural resources. Here at Searsport Shores, we have used: “Closest Campground to Sears Island” on our welcome marquee. Depending on your business, you could have the closest gift shop, gas station, craft store, B&B, motel, restaurant…well you get the point. If none of these messages apply, how about simply “Hike and Bike Sears Island” or “Have you been to Sears Island yet?” Our point would be to generate a common message that says to visitors: “stay awhile, we have a unique vacation experience to offer.”

It’s all about enjoying and celebrating the region we live in. To take advantage of the state’s marketing efforts, let’s start the buzz before the BridgeFest on the 23rd.

Have a great season,

Astrig Tanguay

P.S. Did you know bird watching is the #1 touring activity in the U.S.? Sears Island is a birwatcher’s paradise with more than 160 identified species. Why not link your prosperity to this year’s national trend?

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