Tourism votes needed...

A man and woman compete in a Lumber Jack competition in Camp Creek State Park in 2017. Camp Creek State Park is one of three Mercer locations nominated for special recognition by Blue Ridge Country Magazine as a Trending Mountain Destination. People can go online to BlueRidgeCountry.com/Trending to vote for their favorite local location. Voting ends on April 5. The top 5 destinations in each state with the most votes will be published in the July/August issue.

BLUEFIELD — Mercer County locations offering shopping, recreation and lodging have been nominated for special recognition by Blue Ridge Country Magazine, a local tourism promoter said Monday.

The Mercer Street Grassroots District, Camp Creek State Park and Bluefield’s Baker’s Hill Inn have been nominated by Blue Ridge Country Magazine as a Trending Mountain Destination, according to Jamie Null, executive director of the Mercer County Convention and Visitors Bureau. People can now vote for Mercer County online.

“The counties/towns in our coverage area that are nominated have been so nominated based on the fastest percentage growth in tourism-related expenditures from 2016-2017,” according to the magazine.

“We are very proud that our county has been nominated,” Null said. “We have experienced great growth last year in visitor spending.”

In one year, tourism spending in Mercer County grew from $93.6 million to $106 million, she added.

“It is very impressive, and according to the Commissioner of Tourism, Chelsey Ruby, Mercer County is one of the top five counties in tourism growth,” Null said. “All of our events have grown, We’ve been able to do a lot more. We’ve seen extraordinary growth in selling online tickets for some of our partners in the county.”

The Mercer Street Grassroots District has seen several new businesses open, according to organizer Lori McKinney.

“It is very cool,” McKinney said of the magazine’s nomination. “There’s a lot of synergy happening now and the dynamic, creative businesses that have planted roots on this street each bring something interesting and unique and worthy of travel. We see people coming more and more; travelers who have heard about it and read about it are coming to explore the neighborhood. It’s really an exciting time and this is only the beginning.”

In Bluefield, owner Lisa Sydnor of the Baker’s Hill Inn said many of her guests are from out of state.

“Certainly. We’ve seen a lot more customers coming in to visit the (Hatfield-McCoy) trials and just the area in general,” she said

Sydnor said Baker’s Hill Inn is working on opening a bakery and dessert counter in the spring and offering the use of pedal-assisted bicycles, also known as e-bikes, as well as regular bicycles for guests who want to roam areas like College Avenue.

“We have two bakers in the area who will fill up our bakery cases,” she said.

Representatives of Camp Creek State Park were not available Monday, but Null said the park was “coming up with new ways to try a traditional experience.” Campers who want to walk can hike to their campsites.

Blue Ridge Country has been a premier regional travel publication for the Blue Ridge Mountain region for more than 30 years, Null said. To vote visit BlueRidgeCountry.com/Trending. Click on West Virginia and then vote for the Bluefield/Princeton region.

Voting ends on April 5. The top 5 destinations in each state with the most votes will be announced and published in the July/August issue.

— Contact Greg Jordan at gjordan@bdtonline.com

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