Spotlight shines on Almont for Country Heritage Tour
Organizers of self-guided tour think event is on track for a growth spurt
October 10, 2007ALMONT — Organizers of the 2007 Country Heritage Tour couldn't have ordered better weather for the annual fall celebration. Nor could they have wished for a better turnout.
With cloudless skies and temperatures hovering in the upper 80s, hundreds of residents and visitors flocked to various locations on the self-guided tour map over the weekend. The ideal combination resulted in one of the best-attended tours yet, say organizers.
On Saturday, the Almont Farmers Market was ripe with shoppers taking advantage of the availability of fresh goods from the local harvest.
Johnny Gyergyov, who along with Jill Hough coordinates the weekly market, believes more people are becoming aware of what the market has to offer.
"It was a bit warm, but we had a really good crowd and some new vendors," said Gyergyov. "We got a lot of nice compliments from people and the market is starting to grow. Maybe someday we'll get to the point where we have to turn away vendors."
Debbie Schumacher, owner of The Mill & Brewhouse at 622 S. Main St., reported brisk business throughout the weekend.
|Sinclaire Burns, 7, of Almont, sells gourds grown in her sandbox at the Almont Farmers Market on Saturday.|
"I noticed that we had a lot of new faces come through here," said Schumacher. "It was by and large a whole new group of people. The tour brings people into town that otherwise might not know we are here."
New and familiar faces were among those who sampled the lotions, colognes and herbal soaps at Margeanne's Creations, 3203 Howland Rd.
"It was an awesome weekend," said owner Marjeanne Showalter, who has been part of the tour for several years. "We had a lot of new faces and customers. I think we're getting a lot of word-of-mouth."
Marjeanne said the biggest sellers over the weekend were soaps, dried bouquets, her special headache remedy, "Migraine Away," and "Breathe Ease" bags, whose fragrance and healing properties are particularly helpful to people with allergies.
Teemie Eschenberg, owner of Country Blooms at 4265 Kidder Rd., helped develop the tour 11 years ago.
"We think this tour reflects the best of what our community has to offer," said Eschenberg. "Our original goal was to promote the local heritage of our community— the artists, artisans, farmers and creative types living among us."
While she admits that the tour was slow to catch on in its formative years, Eschenberg believes the event has come of age and is a catalyst for other activities.
"It's been a process," she said. "I think finally, with the help of the chamber of commerce and DDA, we'll be able to continue to see this grow.
"Right now, we are the only organization in the state offering these self-guided tours. It creates added revenue for the area and it's fantastic for the local economy."
Eschenberg believes that embracing and promoting local heritage and talent further enhances the aesthetic and economic value of the area. She adds that now that the Country Heritage tour has established itself, conditions are right for future growth.
"We are always welcoming new people to participate," said Eschenberg. "We'd like to attract more local artists, photographers and growers.
"Although the tour isn't necessarily about the commercial aspect, it can serve that purpose. I think people are tired of the big-box stores and are searching for more unique and authentic shopping experiences."
She added that the 2008 Country Heritage Tour will have a greater Web presence as a means to attract people from greater distances.
Anyone interested in participating in next year's tour may contact Teemie Eschenberg at 810-798-3361.