The fall colors are peaking, the soybeans and corn are being harvested, and we begin the last quarter of 2020. From a tourism perspective, this latest stretch of weather was great. I usually disregard the State’s Fall Color Report, which typically has Grant County reaching peak color in late October and find it most colorful around October 12th. Your oak trees may still be green in color, but the vibrant colors of the maples, poplar, birch, and hickory paired the with remaining green colors is what I enjoy most.
ATV and UTVs remain the newest and most highly popular touring vehicle. This is the one area that has resulted in the newest and highest impact to tourism in the county and region. What were UTVs 3 years ago? I recall my assistant scrambling to try to keep up with the development of maps for the industry. At the time, each township, city, or village was doing their own thing. Some were welcoming the new vehicles and others, not so much. “How do we get from the east side of the county to the west?” was a common question asked of our office. The changes we have seen in regulations and acceptance of ATV/UTV on our roads and into our communities is a great example of how economic development works. It is usually not quick and simple and takes years to develop. My office supported the purchasing of signs for ATV/UTVs in several townships and municipalities. The County’s actions addressing this on a county-wide basis, followed by the cities and villages, have made life easier for navigating from one end of the county to the other. Like them or not, these new vehicles on our roads are having an impact on tourism. We have had groups from Iowa use our maps to plan weekend trips in Grant County. Where I live, on a county road, seeing one or two a day is now the norm, while dozens a day are common on the weekends. I have had several businesses comment that this has helped them particularly with the pandemic’s negative fiscal impact.
Covid is driving new tourism, especially outdoor activities. Fishing license purchases are up significantly. The trout fishermen have been hitting the county in full force, with a lot of Iowa and Illinois vehicles parked along our county and town roads. Camping is up, recreational vehicles are in high demand, and of course the ATV/UTV movement is growing. When you see the Cassville Ferry full of just ATV/UTVs, then you know there is something to plan around. We see the motorcycle clubs tour through, as well as the bicyclists and classic cars. Now, there are UTVs. My office has created various maps for all these modes of transportation. I am curious, though. What will be the new mode in 10 years?
Get out and enjoy our county and our region. The great thing about Grant County is that you are near great scenery no matter where you live. A leisurely drive around the county is a great way to relax, be with your family sharing quality time, and be isolated as the times sometimes require. Enjoy the fall!