Marketing Heritage and Cultural Tourism in Rural Missouri
by Diane Hannah, Special Projects Coordinator, and Logan Breer, Communication and Brand Specialist with Missouri Main Street Connection
Missouri Main Street Connection (MMSC) partnered with Missouri Humanities Council (MHC) in 2022 to award American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) dollars to twelve Main Street communities with a Main Street program in agreement with MMSC for projects that were important to them related to their local history, heritage, and culture. MMSC prioritized heritage and cultural tourism education in awarding the grant. For many small communities, promoting heritage and cultural tourism is an economic development tool that they may not be familiar with or not have the skills to identify within their community assets to use in these promotions. Nationally recognized speaker Sheila Scarborough from Tourism Currents was the featured presenter at the grant workshop held in Jefferson City as well as a session at the Missouri’s Premier Downtown Revitalization Conference in Kansas City. She spoke on cultural tourism, how each community should market their community as a destination, and how to identify each community’s existing heritage assets to promote cultural and heritage tourism.
MMSC chose to administer the funds through a grant application process. At the end of the application process MMSC’s staff reviewed applications and selected twelve recipients to each receive $5,000 according to quality of the project, demonstrated need, and organizational capacity outlined in the application. The selected communities were located across the state, which spreads the impact of the funding and allows more people to be within in a day’s drive from one of the communities selected. Each recipient Main Street program implemented this grant in locally impactful ways. The Missouri communities and their projects include:
- Cameron Main Street’s daytrip experience attracted visitors to spend a day in Cameron throughout the summer of 2022 on Thursdays. They incorporated their railroad history, historic commercial district, and over 150 year connection with the Cameron Municipal Band into this programming through a guided tour of the Historic Depot Museum, a self-guided tour of the downtown using a brochure created by the Main Street committee, and a ten-concert series. Read more details about Cameron Main Street’s project in our article: momainstreet.org/blog/2023/marketing-heritage-and-cultural-tourism-grant-community-highlight-cameron.
- Campbell Main Street expanded the second iteration of their annual Campbell Main Street Festival: Cotton & Camels which is hosted in conjunction with the Campbell Annual Alumni Reunion. They capitalized on their community’s community-focused culture and highlighted their community’s history with the cotton industry in this fun festival that had a great turnout and even had a real camel! Read more details about Campbell Main Street’s project in our article: momainstreet.org/blog/2023/marketing-heritage-and-cultural-tourism-grant-community-highlight-campbell.
- Canton Main Street worked with their city and other partners to design and engineer phase one of their new Wayfinding Community Gateway Monument found in their Community Master Plan developed by MMSC. Once all phases are completed, Canton will have an impressive way to attract visitors and start telling their heritage and history, which has been shaped by the Mississippi River. Read more details about Canton Main Street’s project in our article: momainstreet.org/blog/2023/marketing-heritage-and-cultural-tourism-grant-community-highlight-canton-main-street-association.
- Old Town Cape, the Main Street program for Cape Girardeau, worked with partners to design, construct, and install a Downtown Cape Girardeau Mississippi River marker and concrete planter. It is located in the heart of downtown and can be seen by riverboat visitors as they enter the district. Read more details about Old Town Cape’s project in our article: momainstreet.org/blog/2023/marketing-heritage-and-cultural-tourism-grant-community-highlight-cape-girardeau.
- Vision Carthage’s self-guided Downtown Historic Walking Tour took participants around Carthage’s Square plus additional buildings outside the Square proper. The self-guided tour is printed in a brochure that can be picked up downtown and highlights prominent architectural features and historic stories of their buildings. Read more details about Vision Carthage’s project in our article: momainstreet.org/blog/2022/marketing-heritage-and-cultural-tourism-grant-community-highlight-carthage.
- The Charleston Revitalization Movement transformed an overgrown vacant lot, left behind after a building was removed years ago, into a downtown pocket park with murals highlighting their local history and heritage. Read more details about Charleston Revitalization Movement’s project in our article: momainstreet.org/blog/2022/marketing-heritage-and-cultural-tourism-grant-community-highlight-charleston-revitalization-movement.
- Clinton Main Street’s Historic Walking Tour uses Google Maps and QR codes on special signage to share information about the downtown’s historic structures. Read more details about Clinton Main Street’s project in our article: momainstreet.org/blog/2023/marketing-heritage-and-cultural-tourism-grant-community-highlight-clinton
- Glasgow Main Street installed two downtown murals featuring Glasgow’s heritage and cultural history, one of which is an interactive photo wall for visitors to use as a background for their photos. Read more details about Glasgow Main Street’s project in our article: momainstreet.org/blog/2022/marketing-heritage-and-cultural-tourism-grant-community-highlight-glasgow.
- Historic Downtown Liberty, Inc. (HLDI) implemented a marketing campaign online and in print to increase visitors to two local museums: Clay County Museum and Jesse James Bank, which highlight the fascinating history Liberty holds in Missouri. The brochures featured a map of sites to visit as well as HDLI Fun Money coupon for $5. Read more details about Historic Downtown Liberty, Inc’s. project in our article: momainstreet.org/blog/2022/marketing-heritage-and-cultural-tourism-grant-community-highlight-historic-downtown-liberty-inc.
- The City of Sedalia Main Street program activated one of the alleys in their downtown with a mural. The mural features Sedalia’s rich railroad history as well as Whiteman Air Force Base which is nearby. Read more details about the City of Sedalia’s project in our article: momainstreet.org/blog/2022/marketing-heritage-and-cultural-tourism-grant-community-highlight-sedalia-s-mural.
- The Vienna Chamber of Commerce’s printed and electronic “Plan Your Trip” tourism brochure highlights Vienna’s history and heritage, which is shaped by its connection to the outdoors such as the Gasconade River and other conservation areas. Read more details about the Vienna Chamber of Commerce’s project in our article: momainstreet.org/blog/2023/marketing-heritage-and-cultural-tourism-grant-community-highlight-vienna.
- Warrensburg Main Street’s Historic Walking Tour, “Stories of Downtown,” features plaques on selected buildings that display the year the building was built and other historic information using QR codes. Read more details about the Warrensburg Main Street’s project in our article: momainstreet.org/blog/2023/marketing-heritage-and-cultural-tourism-grant-community-highlight-warrensburg-main-street.
MMSC is proud to have been able to facilitate all the projects supported by the MHC/ARPA grant and is appreciative of MHC partnering with us. MMSC invites all readers to visit these Missouri Main Street communities to view the Heritage and Cultural Tourism projects.
Learn more about Missouri Main Street Connection by visiting www.momainstreet.org. MMSC the state coordinating program for the Main Street Approach™ which is a time-tested framework for community-driven, comprehensive revitalization created by Main Street America.
Over the pandemic, Missouri communities that relied on heritage and cultural tourism suffered as travel slowed due to the elevated risk to individuals, groups, and communities. In 2022, Missouri Main Street Connection facilitated the Marketing Heritage and Cultural Tourism grant, in partnership with the Missouri Humanities Council through the American Rescue Plan Act funding, that financially supported rural Main Street communities that were not connected to or are represented by large regional Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs) or funded by other state funds. This article summarizes Missouri Main Street Connection facilitation of the grant and each recipient’s impact on their local economy.