Exciting things are happening in the Reelfoot area, despite the current trying times.
Tourism, business, and community leaders met March 16 for a luncheon at Boathouse Restaurant in Samburg to talk tourism. Samburg Tourism hosted the event.
Ed Mayberry, chairman of Samburg Tourism, welcomed participants to the luncheon. Before getting down to business, Mayberry paid tribute to the boaters who recently died following a fishing tournament on Pickwick Lake. He remembered one of the boaters, who was from Samburg, fondly. He recalled trips for ice cream and drives around the lake with the young man.
Speaking about tourism, Mayberry reminded everyone that the Reelfoot area has a lot to offer. He emphasized the importance of highlighting the corridor from Discovery Park of America to the Mississippi River, calling it the “Highway 22 miracle street.”
He stressed how important it is for communities and organizations to work together to promote the area, pointing out that Discovery Park, Reelfoot Lake, and the Mississippi River offer a lot together.
Katrina Greer with Reelfoot Lake Tourism Council also spoke about local tourism. Greer has been with Reelfoot Lake Tourism Council since last August. She noted that some local resorts are seeing cancelations due to COVID-19 concerns. She also commented on some of the ways the council is trying to attract tourists, such as TV ads and new maps on the visitor guide, which is distributed across the state.
The maps show where Reelfoot Lake is in relation to larger cities in the state and surrounding state. This will hopefully lead to tourists in nearby cities making a trip out to Reelfoot Lake.
“I love my job because I love Reelfoot Lake,” she concluded.
Last year an opinion piece ran in the New York Times called “The Eagles of Reelfoot Lake.”
Lake County Mayor Denny Johnson shared that the piece has proven very helpful to Lake County.
“[We’ve] got two industries that are looking to come into Lake County because of that article,” he said. “A couple of these [companies] discovered what we call the best-*kept secret in the nation—Reelfoot Lake.”
Mayor Johnson also pointed out that the port in Lake County is a regional concept, funded by Dyer, Obion, and Lake Counties.
“It’s a regional approach, so why can’t we regionally approach our tourism also,” he said.
During the luncheon representatives from Reelfoot Lake State Park shared some of their latest news. An estimated 1.5 million people visited the park last year. Now a new nature center is under construction with an expected completion date in September.
Other announcements included Reelfoot Lake being featured on the cover of Tennessee’s tourism publication and Obion County joining the Retire Tennessee program. Retire Tennessee’s goal is to attract retirees as new residents.
Although Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency’s (TWRA) director, Ed Carter, had previously planned to attend, he canceled due to state concerns over COVID-19. His upcoming retirement would have been honored at the luncheon.
However, two representatives from TWRA were present. Mayberry praised them for a job well done with protecting the lake. He reminded everyone present that TWRA also counts all of the fish in the lake.
“We still have the best lake in the world right here in Tennessee,” Mayberry said during his speech.