MT. VERNON — The City Tourism Department is prioritizing initiatives for the new year.
“We’ve completed a lot this last year,” said Bonnie Jerdon, tourism director. “We still have a lot of things in the works.”
Jerdon said the Tourism Advisory Board has already looked over the initiatives, many of which were recommended by the Destination Development, Inc., during a site visit a few months ago. The initiatives are now with the Branding Leadership Team for review.
Items in the works with Tourism include a new Internet web site, the wayfinding signage system, the Market Days program and a visit from “Mini Abe.”
Jerdon said one of the recommendations of DDI was to launch a new web site.
“They recommended we separate tourism from the city’s web site,” Jerdon explained. “We are doing that, and there will be two places online for visitors to get information.”
The new site, which is expected to be launched in late March, will be at www.enjoymtvernon.com.
“It’s a big undertaking,” Jerdon said. “It has all new photography and site design.”
The wayfinding system has been in the works for several months, with new signs designed directing visitors to sites and districts within the city. Jerdon said the designs of the signs themselves have been approved, but changes had to be made to the placement design plans submitted to the Illinois Department of Transportation.
“The design plan is 95 percent complete,” Jerdon reported. “Next week, it will be complete and we will submit it to IDOT again. We’re not expecting any problems, as we made all the changes IDOT required to be made.”
The bid for the signs and putting them up is expected to be let in the spring.
Another endeavor which has a spring deadline on it is the improved Market Days program, which is done by Mt. Vernon Festivals, Inc., at the former armory building on Broadway.
“The target date for the first Market Day of 2014 is the first Saturday in April,” Jerdon said. “It’s planned as an indoor and outdoor event.”
Market Days took off last year as an outdoor-only flea market, as work to bring the armory building up to code was ongoing, Jerdon said.
“It was very successful,” Jerdon said. “This year will be our first chance to get the building in use.”
At this time, the city is waiting on windows for the building to be installed. In the meantime, the non-profit group Mt. Vernon Festivals, Inc., of which Jerdon is a member, is working on the fees for indoor booths.
“We’ve had contacts a lot of vendors, both new ones and old ones from last year, “ Jerdon said. “People are already looking forward to it.”
While the Market Days bring many visitors to the King City, a state program will bring “Mini Abe” to the city next week.
“Mini Abe is an Illinois Tourism campaign,” Jerdon said. “They are sending a Mini Abe doll to experience a visit to areas throughout the state. Here, Mini Abe will hit the high spots every visitor needs to see. We’ll make a couple videos for promotion on the state web sites.”
Jerdon said other communities who have hosted Mini Abe in their tourism campaigns have had fun and used a lot of creativity in the videos.
“We want to do well on it too,” Jerdon said. “It can be a fun promotion. ... I can’t wait for Mini Abe to visit his larger counterpart downtown.”