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MEEKER I “What is ‘cultural heritage tourism,’ anyway?” someone asked recently. By definition of the National Trust it is: “Traveling to experience the places and activities that authentically represent the stories and people of the past and present. It includes historic, cultural and natural resources.”
Today, the world is filled with heritage tourists who crave the discovery of quaint places rich in history. In fact, the American Alliance of Museums reports, “Seventy-eight percent of all U.S. leisure travelers participate in cultural or heritage activities. These travelers—including visitors to museums—spend 63 percent more on average than other leisure travelers.”
The Rio Blanco County Historical Society began dreaming of capturing this niche of tourism back in 2012. The group also began doing its part to bring some economic vitality to Rio Blanco County.
It was the belief that by having a center where local culture and heritage could be showcased, heritage tourism would flourish.
With the acquisition of the building east of the museum complex now complete, the Rio Blanco County Historical Society and Old West Heritage Culture Center Committee are finalizing a business plan and rolling up their sleeves to create an awesome hub of activity to promote cultural heritage tourism in Rio Blanco County.
The overall goals for the 3,500-square-foot building are to construct a mini theater for historical films and presentations, classes that enhance local historical culture and a venue for history camps, demonstrations and heritage events, and to develop a regional research center for the public to research their ancestors from this area.
The plan is to also develop the exterior to look more like the 1880s museum cottonwood log buildings to complete the appearance of our cultural heritage. Since the structure is not a historic building but only a historic location, the committee is not restricted in their design.
At the first steering committee meeting chaired by the Rio Blanco County Historical Society on Jan. 20, there were representatives from Meeker Arts and Culture Council, the Meeker Chamber of Commerce and Town of Meeker. The group is also inviting a representative from Rangely, the county, and ERBM Recreation and Park District to complete the committee.
Additionally, “Friends of Heritage Tourism in RBC,” consisting of all the entities and groups surrounding heritage tourism in our area, is forming and will be an integral part of catapulting this region into the eyes of heritage tourists everywhere.
To accomplish all this, the group is pursuing grants and accepting donations.
“We thank the commissioners and Rio Blanco County for partnering with us to acquire the building and helping RBCHS to achieve our first step in launching this dream,” RBCHS President Ellene Meece said.
To contribute to the project online or view the heritage tourism information, go to the article that has links to the appropriate pages: www.rioblancocounty.org/heritage-culture-center-from-dream-to-reality/. You can also communicate via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.