Among the many events that will take place in the Laurel community in 2020 is a new event that is already generating some excitement and anticipation.

During December's meeting of the London-Laurel County Tourism Commission, Co-Director Kim Collier announced that London will be hosting the US Lawn Mower Racing Association at the Laurel County Fairgrounds in October 2020. That regional contest, if successful, could evolve into a national competition in coming years.

Promoting the area through various events is the purpose of the city and county tourism commissions and other plans are well underway to clinching the 2020 schedule with new and returning attractions to do so.

Collier presented the report of Co-Director Kelly Burton during Tuesday's meeting as Burton was unable to attend. Collier also gave updates on other activities under the county's list, many of which are joint efforts on both tourism commissions.

The April Redbud Ride is already generating early registration, with Collier reporting that 62 people have already registered for the 2020 contest that brings hundreds to the area for a bicycle ride through designated routes across the county.

Collier also addressed the Christmas parade on Dec. 6 in which the World Chicken Festival float made its debut in the holiday celebration.

"The World Chicken Festival float in the Christmas parade, with three chickens (people dressed as chickens) clucking out 'Joy to the World' was very popular," Collier added in her report.

The lighting of the new Christmas tree and its holiday decor at Town Center has also generated much interest. Collier reported the video of the tree lighting had reached 39,100 people and 9,100 engagements on the tourism commissions' Facebook page. That site has been a popular attraction since it was officially opened on Dec. 5.

The Dribble Drive Challenge which brings basketball teams from the region to the holiday tournament is another venue for promoting the area, with welcome packets already being prepared for visitors coming to the area. That tournament will be held next week during Christmas vacation. Collier said the event hopes to evolve into the same popularity of the former Hooping Up the Holidays that marked the 1990s and early 2000s.

January will send tourism officials to the WYMT Fishing Expo at the Corbin Arena next month, while an event connecting Cumberland Falls with the Niagara Falls Tourism for a travel promotion is also in the works.

"We thought since Cumberland Falls is called the 'Little Niagara' that would be a good promotion for the area," Collier said.

County tourism officials are also updating the website and Facebook page for the Battle of Camp Wildcat, which takes place each October and are brainstorming about hosting an Airbnb training for future entrepreneurs about laws and tax requirements. Airbnb is an organization that assists tourists with lodging.

Another issue that Collier reported on was the hemlock tree treatment that was postponed due to rain. Others in attendance addressed the concern for the demise of hemlock trees in the area, many of which are dying due to disease. The hemlock is seen in the local wooded areas, although many of those trees have died out over the past few years.

Returning events are also being planned for 2020 with continued efforts to add additional activities throughout the year to promote the area.

The London-Laurel County Tourism Commission meets the third Tuesday of each month at Heritage Hills, off Heritage Road that connects Ky. 80 and 16th Street (Parker Road).

njohnson@sentinel-echo.com

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