By Konstantine Fekos
Crawford County is ripe and ready for Independence Day weekend and is expected to attract the usual several-thousand holiday travelers to a variety of unique, low-cost, family-friendly events, according to Juanita Hampton, executive director for the Crawford County Convention & Visitors Bureau.
With the American Automobile Association (AAA) estimating approximately 40.8 million holiday travelers nationwide, Hampton anticipates a significant economic impact for the county.
“This is the busiest holiday season for travelers,” she said. “Even bigger than Memorial Day, because school is out.”
Since the Fourth of July falls on a Thursday this year, Bureau officials believe travelers will take off work as early as today and extend their weekend to possibly Sunday.
Any decline in tourism as a result of the mid-week holiday will be minor — no threat to the local economy, according to Hampton.
An estimated 15,000 travelers roaming around Crawford County will translate into approximately $11 million worth of potential financial impact between holiday events and general patronage to restaurants, hotels, theaters and more, according to Bureau reports.
“We’re not forecasting gas prices to change much for travelers to get around to events,” Hampton said. “Gas prices are holding steady. It’s one of the largest travel days and everybody’s looking for fun.”
And what fun reigns first and foremost this time of year?
“Fireworks, fireworks, fireworks,” Hampton said.
Waldameer Park in Erie will kick off the celebration with fireworks today, with Conneaut Lake Park and Canadohta Lake following up on Saturday, with a rain date on Sunday. All fireworks displays will begin at dusk, according to the Bureau.
Conneaut Lake Park will also play host to rock band Rusted Root at the Beach Club on Thursday and former Poison frontman Bret Michaels on Sunday, among other musical acts from Thursday to Sunday.
“We’re excited to have Bret Michaels out there this weekend,” Hampton said. “(Conneaut Lake Park) has tons of stuff going on. The rides will be running and there will be a lot of activity at the Beach Club.”
Other major events include the Concert Band of Northwest Pennsylvania playing “Meet the Sections of the Band” today at 7 p.m. on the lawn of Cole Auditorium on the campus of Edinboro University; and the next musical act in Meadville’s Downtown Summer Concert Series on Thursday in Diamond Park, featuring the gypsy-jazz stylings of Max Schang’s Hot Club Allegheny, a Sharon-based quartet. The concert will begin at 7 p.m. with a rain location at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 346 Chestnut St., Meadville.
For visitors looking to enjoy a different kind of outdoor event, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission has dubbed Thursday a “Fish-for-Free” day, allowing everyone in Pennsylvania to fish legally without a license. All other fishing regulations apply.
“There’s something for everybody” Hampton said. “Kids, adults, outdoorsmen, families, everyone. Go enjoy these events. There’s so much to do in your own backyard anymore.”
n More information about holiday events: Click visitcrawford.org.
Konstantine Fekos can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.