Beaver County’s new recreation and tourism director
Summer has arrived and the time has come to play in the park.
And that keeps Tony Caltury busy.
As Beaver County’s new recreation and tourism director, he must ensure that county-run parks are prepared for the seasonal herd of entertainment seekers. Caltury and his two colleagues are also deeply involved in their dual role of promoting the county to outsiders.
“So we have the recreation side, with the five parks and the rink and everything, but also the other division is Visit Beaver County and the tourism side,” he said. “We made the balance by visiting hotels and meeting people like the Pittsburgh International Raceway (in Big Beaver), all the local bed and breakfasts, and the unique events and places we have in Beaver County. And with that, get the parks ready for the summer season. One thing we have seen with COVID; recreation and the use of parks and outdoor activities have increased significantly. ”
The recreation department began selling season passes last week for the Old Economy Park pool in economy.
“People have come to buy them and they are thrilled, especially with the Beaver Pool closing this year,” Caltury said. “We are one of the few local public pools so we are delighted to open it, along with the Bradys Run Lake for swimming.”
Caltury took over as director in mid-January. In early 2020, he had been appointed Chief Clerk of Beaver County, previously working as Assistant to Beaver County Commissioner Dan Camp.
Caltury started the recreation and tourism post in turbulent times, with statewide restrictions on crowd gatherings still in place due to the pandemic.
These safety restrictions have suspended county events like the Bradys Run Food Truck Festival.
“With the restrictions just relaxed, we’re still exploring options to potentially have it,” Caltury said.
There is a possibility that the Food Truck Festival, normally at the end of July, will be postponed to a later date, perhaps in September, as the organizers have done for traditional summer events such as the Beaver Falls Car Cruise and the Garrison. Day in Beaver.
“We are delighted that our local events such as the Hookstown Fair, Garrison Day and the Beaver Falls Car Cruise are back to normal and can host events for the benefit of all of our residents,” Caltury said. “Last year was a difficult year so we are delighted to find this back.”
Beer & Saint-Bernard
Any event wishlist will need to be searched first.
“We will explore our unique possibilities and decide what type of events we will organize, whether they are corporate events or niche groups,” Caltury said. “For example, a few weeks ago the Sons of The American Revolution – we have a local in Beaver County – hosted their Pennsylvania State Chapter meeting here. So things like that.
“It’s far too early to tell, but we are working on a Saint Bernard festival for 2023,” he said.
Gatherings of dog breeds and dog owners, like the 2017 Pittsburgh Corgi Gathering at the Lucky Paws Pet Resort in New Sewickley Township, draw people and pooches from across western Pennsylvania.
Caltury met someone who travels out of state for greyhound gatherings.
“But everything like that is probably two or three years away,” he said. “We will soon be preparing our game plan for the events that will take place at the end of 22 and 23 so that we can start processing our offers and publishing our RFPs (requests for proposals).”
His department will find potential events through the tourism and recreational organizations to which it belongs, such as Destinations International and Sports ETA, and by attending related conferences and arranging meetings with meeting planners.
“There are a bunch of conferences we’re going to at the end of October,” he said.
With the opening of new craft breweries in Beaver County – Fermata Brewing Co. in Ambridge is set to become the fourth by the end of 2021 – Caltury is also keen to explore the commercialization of Beaver County as a potential lead. of craft beer.
The Beer Trails, coordinated tours of a series of nearby craft breweries, are popular and could generate income for people who might not otherwise be able to spend a day and / or night in the county.
“We are in the process of brainstorming what festivals we can organize that attract outside tourism but also benefit residents of Beaver County,” Caltury said.
These tours benefit the local economy, with people wanting to dine somewhere they’ve never been, rather than a chain restaurant.
“I know when I travel I want to experience everything locally,” Caltury said. “We want people to experience Beaver County like a local. Where is the best pizza? Where is the best ice cream? Where can I get a local beer? ”
The Visit Beaver County branch of the department reviews road travel itineraries for people planning a 3-5 hour trip “and experiencing the outdoors, whether on the river or just visiting certain parks, whether it’s the state of Raccoon Creek Park or one of our five county parks. It’s going to be a huge market this year. “
A recent USA Today article predicted that Pennsylvania would see a significant increase in day-long tourism this summer as people flex their driving muscles after a year of lockdown with the coronavirus.
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Visit Beaver County highlights local events on its website, visitbeavercounty.com Community organizers can submit their event ideas for inclusion.
“We’re potentially going to be working on redesigning the website and making it a bit more user-friendly and with more connectivity,” Caltury said.
The team includes Brenda Hill, deputy director of recreation and tourism, who brings 25 years of experience to Visit Pittsburgh and has demonstrated “invaluable experience” in taking the helm of tourism marketing, Caltury said.
The department also put more pressure on social media, led by Gretchen D’Itri, which has fostered a more active presence on Instagram, where photos influence user activity and spending choices.
“We worked with local photographers and got some great photos. Gretchen has been great on social media, seeing someone share photos of Bradys Run and contact them. Scenery photos or local events that we rely on a lot. “said Caltury. “This is what we need, plus some great photos so that we can highlight the events that we have going on. She followed the scans and remarked, ‘Oh, that particular post seemed to be working well. “”
Part of the mission is to convince the longtime residents of Beaver County to attempt adventures just minutes away.
Caltury, a longtime Beaver County resident, remembers visiting the Pittsburgh International Race Complex in northern Beaver County recently for only the second or third time.
“I said it was amazing with their Grand Prix and their MOTOAmericas, and they also have the Go-Karts, and I can’t believe it’s 15 minutes down the 376. Sometimes we just hold on for granted what’s there. It’s a great place. They have stag and hen parties, and many of their attendees are from out of county.
“There are events going on in Beaver County that residents of Beaver County are not aware of,” he said. “This is something our department needs to do. Connect them and also highlight our local events and the potential for tourism. “
Caltury cited another example of Old Economy Village in Ambridge that his team visited last month and where he attended a wedding last October.
“I had forgotten how beautiful it is and its potential. We were just spitting out ideas and obviously a wine festival was happening. I didn’t realize the old Harmonists there had a huge wine cellar, ”he said. “It’s such a unique space. Whether it’s a wine festival or a farm-to-table dinner, just eat in the backyard. Art festivals and things like This. It’s just a unique and super flexible team. We were highlighting ideas where it’s not the “oh-yeah-that’s-where-my-third-year-on-the-spot-story was” . “It’s not just that. It’s a place where you can organize events, whether it’s weddings or showers.”
Much of the department’s attention over the past few weeks has been to finalize the 2021 Beaver County Experience Guide which includes a digital version and a print copy that seeks to attract visitors to rest areas and hotels. from the Ohio and Pennsylvania area.
“The Experience Guide is going to be very cool this year. We’ve been working on it for almost a month and a half to two months.”
Starting this summer, the renovation of the Bradys Run rink will be fueled by a $ 100,000 prize the county won in a competition sponsored by the Pittsburgh Penguins.
“We just met with the contractor this morning for the price of all of our wishlist projects, so we’ll have to present to the Board of Commissioners for additional funding,” Caltury said.
“We’re looking to modernize the hall and the changing rooms and paint, different things like that. He needs it. A lot of things there are original since 1977 when this place opened.”
The rink reopens for skating the third or fourth week of August.
“I would love to have a new, almost reopening, new and improved rink. I know our user groups are excited.”
One thing that came out of the pandemic: people crave recreation.
“I like the idea of focusing on our parks,” Caltury said. “I think that’s one of the great things about Beaver County all the parks we have, whether it’s Brush Creek for nature walks but also Bradys Run and Old Economy Park with trails and rentals. Our shelters and Four Seasons Pavilion and Lodge are almost booked every weekend throughout the summer. There has been increased use of the trails and we are just working to make sure our trails are where they are. must be with good signage and good accessibility.
People want to hang out in parks and have fun in a safe and social distance.
“And now that the mitigation is in place, I hope the trend continues, and I’m thankful that our Council of Commissioners has been great and understands this by investing in parks and recreation as well as in tourism. are optimistic. “
Scott Tady is the local entertainment reporter for The Beaver County Times and Ellwood City Ledger. He is easy to reach at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @scottady