Festival for Andalusia could benefit all

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 4, 2003

Andalusia needs its own festival. Opp has it's Rattlesnake Rodeo. Florala has its Masonic Celebration. But Andalusia, well, we have the Domino Tournament, but is it enough?

Sure, the Domino Tournament taps all kinds of tourism dollars every July, but the potential for it to become even larger lies untapped, sleeping like a giant lion waiting to roar.

Recently, I attended a tourism meeting and learned some very interesting facts and figures provided by the Southeast Alabama Trails or SEATS.

Did you know that if you travel more than 50 miles outside of your home trade area, you are considered a tourist? That means that when we travel to Montgomery, Pensacola, or Dothan even, we're considered a tourist if we spend any money there.

Just imagine the amount of money we spend outside of Covington County - it all adds up.

And, the amount of tourism dollars spent in Covington County adds up too. Let's just say the amount of tourism dollars spent in Covington County last year is a pretty significant number in the millions.

You might question where all the money comes from, and where it goes. Well, remember, if you travel 50 miles outside of your home area, you're considered a tourist. That means when people from Luverne come to Andalusia to shop, or from just outside of Evergreen - they're considered tourists, and that adds money to the tourism coffers of our great county.

Now, for the festival. If a group of people were to step up and offer to assist the Andalusia Rotary Club with the Domino Tournament - say by providing other events to coincide with it - the tournament, and the city could benefit.

Face it, Opp and Florala reap thousands of tourist dollars each year from their annual events.

Just imagine how much more in thousands of dollars from which Andalusia could benefit.

Among the events that could be held in conjunction with the Domino Tournament are a fair or carnival, a parade, beauty pageant, concerts, car shows, races, etc.

I know that there is an arts and crafts show that is now held in conjunction with the tournament, but the possibilities are still out there for more.

The City of Andalusia has begun its Spring Fling - an event now held in conjunction with the Homespun Country Hoedown - which could easily be incorporated into the Domino Tournament for one massive week-long celebration.

A few years back, some organizers had the foresight to try and implement a pecan festival. Although it failed, the planners had the idea and tried to implement it. That showed courage and initiative. Now it's time for more people to step up and show the initiative to work to bring something to Andalusia again.

The foundation is here. The facilities are here - the entire Kiwanis Complex, the Covington Center Arena, etc. We just need people willing to work together to bring it all together.

I'm willing. Are you.