Bicyclists, art lovers and tourists in general have more information about La Grande and Union County than they did before, thanks to some efforts by Union County Tourism.
SIGN OF THE TIMES: Union County Tourism Executive Director Janet Dodson and Joe Cho, owner of the Adams Avenue Chevron, display one of the three visitor information signs recently erected in Union County. The signs are designed to give visitors an overview of area. - The Observer/BILL RAUTENSTRAUCH
Among other recently completed projects, UCT, the non-profit agency responsible for promoting area tourism, unveiled a bike route map it had printed with help from a Cycle Oregon grant.
The publication, brainchild of a committee formed after last year’s Union County Tourism Summits, highlights roads and trails frequently used by cyclists, and some other routes that are gaining in popularity.
The map was designed with much help from Anita Metlin of the Mountain Works bike shop on Adams Avenue in La Grande. Metlin shared her knowledge of the most popular bike routes, gleaned from her personal experience and from conversations with customers.
The map is a first stage in UCT’s campaign to make Union County attractive to bicycle tourists, Dodson said.
“As funding becomes available, the hope is to get signs up at some of the unmarked intersections out in the country, and also put some bike route signs along the roads we’ve highlighted on the map,” she said.
Dodson said the map was completed last Friday and was handed out Saturday at the finish line of the 2009 Cycle Oregon event. The tour, which started and ended in Elgin, followed a 410-mile route through Union, Baker and Wallowa counties.
Cycle Oregon participants were offered copies at the finish line. Dodson said she hopes putting the map in the hands of avid cyclists will stimulate interest in Union County’s biking amenities.
“We were so pleased to have it finished. The response from Cycle Oregon was very positive. Overwhelmingly, the riders wanted one,” she said.
Also recently, UCT printed a revised and updated brochure on local arts attractions, including information on the Grande Ronde Studio Tour and the Third Thursday Artwalk.
The county-wide Studio Tour is held annually, on the third Saturday in September. The Artwalk takes place in La Grande on the third Thursday of each month. The activities guide art lovers to studios and exhibits.
Both the bike map and arts tour brochure are available free of charge at Union County Tourism, 102 Elm St. in La Grande.
In still another effort, UCT recently put up three of the six visitor information signs it hopes to display in strategic locations around the county.
“The purpose is to give people an overview of things to see and do in Union County,” Dodson said.
Fun and Informative: The visitor information map rendered by local artist Jon Hanley uses playful drawings to call attention to locations. Above, the City of Cove, home of an annual Cherry Festival, is marked by cherries, while nearby Union, home of the Eastern Oregon Livestock Show, gets a cowboy on a bucking bronc.
The signs feature photographs of Union County attractions, arranged around a map painted by artist Jon Hanley. Dodson praised Hanley for working local attractions into the finished product
As an example, she noted that the City of Cove, which holds a Cherry Festival each year, is marked by a drawing of cherries.
“Jon did such a great job on the map. It’s fun to look at as well as being informative,” she said.
Attractions highlighted in the photos include Buffalo Peak Golf Course, Forest Cove Hot Springs, the Elgin Opera House, Eastern Oregon University and Ski Anthony Lakes.
So far, new signs have been erected at the Adams Avenue Chevron in La Grande, the Boulder Market in Union and at the westbound Reynolds rest stop on Interstate 84 east of La Grande.
In the future, signs will go up in North Powder, Island City and at the eastbound Deadman Pass rest stop west of La Grande.
The new signs were funded in large part by a grant from the Union County discretionary fund, Dodson said. In a couple of locations, they replace signs that were put up a dozen years ago.