July 1, 2022 Local Stories in and Around St. Joseph, Illinois

Program to promote rail trail tourism

On March 29 St. Joseph will be visited by someone who lives and breathes tourism.


Amy Camp, owner of Cycle Forward, will be holding a workshop at The Wheelhouse Restaurant, 109 N. Main Street, to discuss how businesses can benefit from the Kickapoo Rail Trail.


Camp helped launch the nationally-recognized Trail Town Program in 2007 and now consults with communities on how they can rethink trails and tourism.


The program is being sponsored by the Champaign County Forest Preserve, Urbana Park District, the City of Danville and the Vermilion County Conservation District.


Mary Ellen Wuellner, the executive director of the Champaign County Forest Preserve, said businesses in St. Joseph should be excited about the trail because study after study proves rail trails boost spending at local businesses.

The program will feature insight into business initiatives and planning while highlighting efforts that have worked along other trails to expand tourism, business development and community pride.

The workshop will also provide tips on how to better position your business or community to attract trail users. Presenters will share their experiences from other highly successful trails – in the Chicago suburbs, Bloomington-Normal, and Pittsburgh area, Wuellner said.


“Communities along trails, often called trail towns, benefit from the influx of visitors going to restaurants, grocery stores, and other retail establishments,” Wuellner said. “On longer trails, hotels, bed and breakfasts, gas stations, and outdoor outfitters benefit.”


The presentation will focus on enticing users to get off the rail trail and into town, the benefit of meeting tourists’ needs, promoting the trail-friendly character of your town and how towns long the trail can work together to promote the entire area as a tourist destination.


Wuellner said about 100 people a day use the trail in good weather, with the weekends having the highest number of users.


“Response has been very positive,” she said. “We’ve seen a steady increase in users on the trail since it opened – particularly during good weather.”
Wuellner said they saw an increase of people using the trail in the winter to cross country ski.


“We are thrilled to see that people are using it and getting outdoors year-round,” she said. “Now that Vermilion County has also started on a trail segment, we can see excitement growing as people recognize that it won’t be long before you can hike or ride from Urbana to Kickapoo State Park.”

The program starts at 8:30 a.m. with coffee and conversation. The presentations will run from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. with a farm-to-table lunch being served at 11:30 a.m.


The workshop is free of charge. Reservations are required. Email HQ@ccfpd.org to reserve a spot.

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