Readers’ Forum

Tourism

Dear editor:

I am a local business owner who has been in the Canoe & Kayak Industry for 40+ years. Being on the river, Warren, Pa has potential to be a mecca of water tourism. There is potential to have the biggest Canoe Races in the countryif it were done right.

A little history: I started a Canoe business when I hadn’t paddled a mile on a river. When I joined the Jaycee’s 35 years ago Ron Smith from the Corry Radio Station suggested we have a local canoe race. I wanted to learn more so I attended a race at Woodcock Lake, that was sponsored by the Holiday Inn.

The race organizer gave me info for the USCA and I approached them. I obtained the Canoe Race Organization Manual and began organizing the Findley Lake Canoe Races which eventually built up to 10,000 racers & spectators. I established a calendar of over 35 races in the area, sold ads to PA, NY, & OH, and developed a mailing list of over 4,000 known racers in the area. I created an article on “How to encourage the new racer, helper, sponsor or potentially new chairman to help them get started and keep them coming back”. My article was published in the NYCRA, PACK, & USA Canoe News. My daughter and I participated in locals races, including taking 3rd place in the 2002 Kinzua Classic, a preliminary to the nationals.

Due to my efforts, the USCA approached the WCCBI to have the Nationals in Warren roughly 10 years ago. I attended the meetings, joined the WCCBI, and offered my assistance. I gave the CEO the Organization Manual (obviously not read), updated the mailing list, printed mailing labels, and gave them to the CEO. The labels were not even used! I also produced 300 maps of the race course (and WP River Access Sites), brought them the day of the race, and the CEO disrespectfully threw them into his motor home! The races were held the same week as the Fair…HELLO! The county provided $35,000 to run the first race, and it was very improperly used.

The Nationals were held bi-annually several more times, but due to improper leadership & lack of local contestant involvement, the USCA decided to leave. Why will they not come back? Where did the money go? Why has Warren lost one of the biggest tourist functions?

There have been studies and requests for ideas from the community on how to improve tourism & economy in this area. I have submitted marketing campaigns and spent my own money trying to help, but feel my voice was not heard. And I am only one person. Does the WCCBI or the WCVB listen at all to their local community people and MEMBERS, instead of their own “Click”?

Since there is a battle on both sides, how about an open meeting to let the people decide, instead of letting it be a political decision? Isn’t it time we listen to the voices of the public?

Thank you,

Dave Wiggers

Youngsville