To make it easier for the public to find out what’s going on at the Office of Tourism throughout the year, I am reviving an old idea by bringing back “Notes from the Visitors Center.”
For a few years in the 1990s this was a weekly column I wrote for one of the local newspapers. This new version will be put out monthly. It will be posted at FairhavenTours.com, on the Facebook page of the Visitors Center, and — if I can keep it to 1,000 words — in the Fairhaven Neighborhood News. (Thanks, Beth David.) I’ll use “Notes” to let you know what I’ve been doing in the past month, what’s coming up, and how you might be able to take part one way or another. (128 words so far.)
The most recent event connected with the Office of Tourism was the 19th Old-Time Holiday, held on the second weekend in December. At the Town Hall Shops, 24 Fairhaven non-profit groups were set up, while elsewhere in the center there were holiday activities at the Millicent Library, the First Congregational Church, the Unitarian Memorial Church, Our Lady’s Haven and Art on Center. There was a great turnout and everyone was in a festive mood.
Outdoors, there was a new booth where NFIA members braved the cold to serve up hot chowder and kale soup — a great addition to the event. Another new part was a nice book fair sponsored by Friends of the Millicent Library featuring 20 local authors selling, signing, and reading from their works.
Once that weekend was done, it was time to look ahead to 2017.
On the Office of Tourism website, FairhavenTours.com, the list of annual events for the new year was updated. Now, if you want to find out the date of the West Island Road Race or the Homecoming Day Fair or Manjiro Festival, it’s all right there for you.
I should mention there’s no charge for Fairhaven groups to list their non-commercial, upcoming public events on the Tourism website. Email the information to FairhavenTours@fairhaven-ma.gov as early as possible. I try to have two months’ worth of events posted at any given time. But I can’t list them if you don’t send them in. The listings also get submitted to the press, included in some advertising, and shared on Facebook and Twitter. Did I mention it’s FREE publicity?
The email address in the previous paragraph is a new one. The Office of Tourism first set up its own email address at AOL years before the Town Hall’s fairhaven-ma.gov email existed.
In December, my office was provided with a new computer, Windows 10, and some software upgrades that give me a more direct connection to the Accounting and Treasurer’s offices, among other things. As part of that upgrade I was assigned a couple of new email addresses. The old one at AOL will still work, too, and the messages will be forwarded, but if you email the Office of Tourism regularly, FairhavenTours@fairhaven-ma.gov is the one to use from now on.
Part of that computer upgrade allowed me to enter my FY18 Budget request directly into the system. The budget I’m asking for, which has yet to be reviewed by the Town Administrator’s Budget Team and the Board of Selectmen, is just about the same as the current one as far as dollars, but I’m asking to be able to use some of those dollars in a different way. After salary/wages, the next largest budget item for me has been advertising/ printing. Following that are a few much smaller amounts for phone service, internet, postage, and supplies. There’s always been something missing from that budget, though.
As you probably know, the Office of Tourism also sponsors several special events each year. These include the Old-Time Holiday, Harvest Fun Day, the July 4th ceremony at Fort Phoenix, the summertime Monday Morning Fun programs at the Visitors Center, and the new Haunted Academy at Halloween. Tourism also co-sponsors spring and fall historical encampments at the fort with the Fairhaven Village Militia. There has never been any money in the Tourism budget to cover expenses related to those events — equipment rental, porta-johns, fees to presenters and/or performers, etc. Those costs have always been paid using donations deposited in the Tourism Gift Account. That’s not really a reliable way of funding regular operations. These are Town-sponsored public events. The Town should allocate money for them.
So instead of juggling funds from donations — which may or may not come in — I’m asking that $1,500 be taken from the printing/advertising part of my budget and put instead into a “contracted services” line, which can be used to pay for some of the things needed to run special events and activities. If the Office of Tourism is fortunate enough to receive donations from businesses, non-profit groups, or the public, that money can be used to add new or extra things, but a “contracted services” line item in the regular budget would help the Office of Tourism keep sponsoring these popular annual events that are enjoyed by visitors and residents alike. I hope the administration and Town Meeting agree with me.
Last but not least, if you have any comments or suggestions for the Office of Tourism you can email me, call 508-979-4085, or stop by the Visitors Center, 141 Main Street. Office hours are Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with a half-hour break around noon. And if you’d like to volunteer to guide tours (free training provided), to act like a pirate or privateer at Fort Phoenix (again with the free training, but you’ll need your own historically accurate costume), or help out with other Visitors Center activities, please raise your hand and step forward. (I had about 25 volunteers lend a hand or two with the Haunted Academy in October.)
Help our town put its best foot forward and have some fun while doing it.
Happy New Year!