In May of last year, a group of specialty shops began meeting informally to work cooperatively to promote bringing people from outside the area into Fairbury to tour our attractions, shop our unique shops, and enjoy our restaurants and food stores.
For the last eleven months or so, they have been actively promoting one another using simple postcard maps to direct new people to other shops and areas of interest. Brochures have been designed and printed highlighting Fairbury as a destination area. These brochures have been approved by the State of Illinois to be distributed to Welcome Centers and Rest Areas throughout the state. They have also been placed in other areas of attraction including Gilman, Galesburg, Arthur, and others. The group is informally known as the “Specialty Shops of Fairbury.”
This idea was prompted by Bobbi McKeon, owner of Heart’s Desire Antiques & Accents, who started the coordination of these group meetings. She says, “Early last year, my husband, Charlie and I went to Shipshewana, IN, a small town with an Amish flair. Despite its size, Shipshewana is one of the most popular in the country for antique shops and flea markets. We went there to see an Amish furniture show.
“While we were there, we spoke to a local businessperson who said that 2.8 million people come every year. Shipshewana is a small town of less than 700 people. We thought that if Shipshewana can attract that many, why shouldn’t we get to work to try to attract a million at least!”
“We are in the early stages of developing our plan.” Bobbi says. “Our Facebook page was started a month or so ago – FairburyILAttractions. It already has over 400 likes. We have been actively posting news, events, and activities happening in the Prairie Central area. Also, we are working on getting a website online soon.
“It is hard work, but we hope as we work together with other community groups, like the Chamber of Commerce, GLCEDC, other non-profits, the City of Fairbury and other area towns, we believe it will pay off in the long-run.”
More research is underway, and things are getting exciting. We hope to report to the Blade on a regular basis.