When it comes to drawing visitors to the area, leaders of Live Oak and McMullen counties are not sitting on their hands and wishing for a windfall of tourism; they are actively involved in promoting events and sponsoring improvements.

Although the area received a blow earlier this year when it was announced that the much-beloved Storyfest would be discontinued, new life has been instilled in the local storytelling tradition.

 The Dobie West Theatre Board, in cooperation with the Live Oak County Historical Commission and the George West City Council, will work together to promote A Day of Stories on Nov. 2.

Saying goodbye to a 30-year tradition isn’t easy, but A Day of Stories will hopefully help preserve some of the best things about Storyfest and keep Live Oak County on the map when it comes to the art of storytelling.

With recent efforts by the George West Chamber of Commerce in launching the Mid Nueces Paddling Trail, these initiatives have the opportunity to be a boon to local tourism and commerce.

The good news is that there is likely more to come. The Three Rivers Chamber of Commerce has explored opportunities to partner with George West in promoting and even expanding the paddling trail.

One of the proposed spots where canoers and kayakers might be able to enter the river is Tips Park, which is actually on the Frio River, but connects to the Nueces River downstream.

An expanded trail means that visitors would stay longer and explore some of the other amenities the community has to offer, such as Choke Canyon Reservoir, Lake Corpus Christi and the shops and restaurants that serve the area.

With its location halfway between Corpus Christi and San Antonio, and also serving as a gateway to the Rio Grande Valley, the area is already positioned to enjoy the benefits of visitors even if no other attractions were added.

Adding those attractions will enhance area tourism, while also offering an opportunity to boost the quality of life local residents enjoy through expanded outdoor activities.

The Three Rivers Chamber of Commerce members have also discussed the possibility of a local music festival to be held in the area. Stay tuned for more details on this exciting and developing possibility.

Meanwhile, McMullen County, which is already benefitting from a recent uptick in the oil and gas industry, is working on a park near Max’s Cafe that will incorporate the area’s natural beauty with its proximity to the Frio River.

That park is expected to cost at least $2 million and offer some great amenities, but not even millions of dollars could purchase the natural beauty that the area enjoys.

“It’s one of the nicest park projects I’ve ever worked with — just the location on the river; it’s idyllic,” consultant Austin Colina said. “It’s a beautiful piece of land and a wonderful setting for a park.”

Three Rivers is also enhancing its local park options. Kopplin Park, located off Highway 281 just south of the Dairy Queen, will have new restrooms and a dog park. 

The dog park is expected to benefit local residents as well as travelers on the always bustling highway.

Former Mayor Sam Garcia, who worked extensively with city employees and consultants on that project, expressed his pride and appreciation for the city’s willingness to fund this endeavor. At a council meeting earlier this year, he said the community’s willingness to welcome visitors — and their pets — will benefit area businesses, as well.

While there are some exciting things that have already been announced, you get the feeling that there’s even more to come. That’s definitely good news to the people who travel through the area, as well as to those who call it home.

Jeff Osborne is the editor of The Progress. A Texan since 1973, he has worked for Texas newspapers for 25 years.