DAWSON SPRINGS, Ky. (AP) — State officials have named Dawson Springs the commonwealth's first Trail Town.
The city will be recognized May 9 by Kentucky's first lady.
"It will be a full day of celebration, I tell you," said Mayor Jenny Sewell. "We are expecting Jane Beshear and a host of people to come into our community."
Dawson Springs joins other towns across the nation, including Las Vegas and Gatlinburg, Tenn., in receiving the declaration.
Tourism, jobs and community involvement are expected to increase as a result of the honor, said Councilwoman Rhonda Mills.
Mills said Dawson Springs is at an advantage over some trail towns because of the naturally occurring and previously established walking, hiking, biking and water trails in the area.
Other towns have to make their own trails in order to qualify for the designation, she said.
"It is very exciting," Mills said. "To me, this is activity, this is working for Dawson Springs and you have got to start somewhere if you want people to come in and take advantage of what we already have. It just makes sense to me."
Visitors from across the nation and even the world may one day visit the town because of the designation, she said.
"I think it will become like the state parks, where people want to see every state park," Mills said. "I think eventually people will want to see what every trail town has to offer and I think that this is an opportunity."
Area commerce may see an increase because of the new traffic.
Mills said a homeowner with a vacant house has suggested opening a bed and breakfast, and there will be canoe and kayak rentals for visitors of the Tradewater River.
"There are business opportunities," she said. "I think this is going to bring people in. We are going to stay here and we are going to be here."
Sewell believes the Trail Town event will be a party to remember.
A tent and stage will be set up near the gazebo in the downtown area, which will serve as the trail head.
Hikers and community members are encouraged to gather in the area around 1 p.m. to hear Beshear speak.
Artisans and special products will also be available in the downtown area.
After the event, tours of three trails, the blue trail (along the Tradewater River), the Jones-Keeney trail (which features a natural bridge) and the Pennyrile State Park trail in Dawson Springs.
At 6 p.m. there will be a food tasting at various Dawson Springs restaurants with entertainment to follow, Sewell said.
The evening will end with a bonfire and hay ride.
"I think that will be one of the biggest parties this area has seen," Mills said. "The day of the celebration will be huge. We need as many people as we can to come and help out because we are going to have a lot of people there."
Information from: The Messenger, http://www.the-messenger.com