It only takes one spark to light a fire, and in this case the spark was Elaine Parny. She and her French husband own a small restaurant, La Galette Berrichonne, in the town of Fordland, Missouri (Pop. 800). In January 2015, Elaine contacted Linnea Iantria at Missouri State University in Springfield, Missouri to see if Linnea’s university class could develop something for the town of Fordland.
Missouri State University, offered the first degree in Geography Geotourism in the world, designed with input from Jonathan Tourtellot, originator of the geotourism concept introduced via the National Geographic Society.
Elaine told the school about the “East Route 60 Tourism Group” that she had started, it consisted of businesses and individuals interested in developing tourism along a stretch of U.S. Route 60 east of Springfield.
The students evaluated the region for tourism potential, it became clear that this was an area of undiscovered rural tourism assets! A number of interesting facts emerged: a farm to table operation in Norwich, a reconstructed pioneer village near Mansfield, the site of the first grocery store by Sam Walton’s grandfather, the home of the inventor of the Hubbell telescope, an Amish farm market, the Laura Ingalls Wilder Home and Museum, canoe operators and float trips down the curving Gasconade River, and, of course, a flavorful French restaurant with a menu featuring local ingredients. Just the kind of experiences that would appeal to harried city dwellers seeking a break in the country.
In May of 2015, the class presented the “Home Grown Highway” in Fordland with representatives from all of the communities involved. It covered six towns and villages across Webster and Wright counties.. by Jan. 2016 a third county, Douglas, was added to complement the original two.
In May of 2016, the new DMO (Destination Marketing Organization) started meeting with individuals in all of the communities and Ozarks South Central Tourism became a reality.
In December of 2017, Ozarks South Central Tourism received official 501c3 status, approvals were gained from the County Commissioners in each of the three counties, and a new Destination Management Organization was born!
The three counties of Webster, Wright, and Douglas now had a voice advocating for them, promoting, and celebrating rural tourism in their areas. In 2018, Ozarks South Central Tourism became recognized from the Division of Missouri Tourism as a Destination Marketing Organization and received official certification.
Our goal is to attract visitors, enhance the economics of our communities and showcase the tri-county region as an "authentic down-home country" travel experience.
"The way to get started, is to quit talking and begin doing. " ~ Walt Disney
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