|Mark and Terry Williams speak with two men from the Phoenix area during a recent travel show in Arizona's capitol city. The Castle Country Travel Region does travel promotion of the area around the country at various shows, and some of those that man the booths are volunteers like the Williams.|
In locations across the nation, many people have heard about treasures in the American West like the San Rafael Swell, College of Eastern Utah Prehistoric Museum, Nine Mile Canyon and the Arapeen Trail System.
Many people have learned about the venues Castle Valley has to offer by attending sports and travel shows at arenas or convention centers in places like Denver, Colo., and Phoenix, Ariz.
The information people receive come from local residents who man booths promoting southeastern Utah at the out-of-state events.
"We travel to a number of shows each year, in various parts of the country," said Kathy Smith, director of Carbon County Travel Bureau. "This year we are doing nine shows, three of which are affiliated with the state. The rest are locally arranged."
Carbon and Emery county travel bureaus make up the Castle Country Travel Region.
Doing a show in a distant city is no easy task, and Smith stays busy just keeping everything organized and being sure materials and facility arrangements are ready for those who do the shows.
Smith does many of the shows herself, but there is always room for volunteers. She has a cadre of people who help promote the region as a travel destination. All this may not sound very hard, but it is more work that it appears.
First, there is the job of doing research and finding the shows that will give the area the most bang for the money spent. This year the region added shows in Phoenix, Ariz., and Las Vegas, Nev., to those they have done in the past.
Then there are the logistics of getting people and supplies to the shows. This includes the monstrous job of shipping materials to the right place at the right time, then setting up the booth and getting everything ready for the onslaught of people who are going to come by and want to know about the area.
Then there are the eight to 12-hour days during the show of promoting the area to the people that come to the booth. This goes on for three or four days, depending on the show. At the recent show in Phoenix, Ariz., people manning the booth talked to 600 to 800 people during the three-day show.
"It's hard work to do one of these shows," said Smith. "You can get burned out on them very quickly if you're not careful."
While Smith goes to many of the shows and is backed up by volunteers, some of the shows are manned entirely by volunteers. A good example of that was the show in Phoenix two weeks ago. Volunteers drove down, two of them hauling the booth and the materials from Price to Phoenix.
The other two volunteers who worked the booth were in Nevada and drove to Arizona.
Upon arrival at the National Football League Arizona Cardinals Stadium, the volunteer crew had to unload the truck and cart everything to about the 50 yard line where they had a booth space waiting.
The next day, the show opened with a fairly large crowd.
Friday was the lightest day. On Saturday, the crowds were very large and for a number of hours on Sunday they were big too.
Once the show ended, the tear started. In many ways it was more work and more chaotic than the set up.
With the set up, vendors in the arena had time to assemble booths. But during the tear down, people rushed get out of town and the arena administration wanted the place returned to normal as fast as possible. That meant streams of people pulling booths down and funneling up a ramp at the back of the arena in 90 degree weather to push by cart and hand truck all the left over materials and equipment they had.
Then there was the long drive back to Price and getting ready for the next show which was in Sandy this past weekend.
But despite the hard work and long hours volunteers love doing the shows and believe they make a real difference not only in promoting the area, but giving people a positive view of Castle Country.
"We enjoy doing these shows," said Mark Williams of Castle Dale, who along with his wife Terry, participate a number of times each year. "You meet some very interesting people, and it's a chance to tell people about how great eastern Utah and Castle Country is."