"It's hard to get people to come out, shop, eat and stay," said Cari Aliveto Rosen, owner of Plum and member of Shepherdstown's new "BEST," group.
GardenFest, last weekend's two-day festival held in conjunction with the Back Alley Tea and Tour, marked the first of what will be a year-long series of events the "BEST" has in the works.
"BEST," which stands for "Better Experiences for Shepherdstown Tourists," is the brainchild of Shepherdstown Business Association members like Deb Tucker, who served as the primary organizer of GardenFest,
Tucker explained that the group was organized in an effort to promote Shepherdstown as a tourist destination, to promote local business and to devise new and improved community-focused events.
Capitalizing on the already popular Back Alley Tea and Tour, GardenFest offered visitors a deeper look at gardening practices and offered a venue for farmers, gardening experts and seed, plant, herb and gardening vendors to reach out to a captivated audience.
"I thought a lot of the demonstrations were of interest to a lot of people," Tucker said.
A Beekeeping, mushroom growing, composting, indoor planting and outdoor urban gardening demonstration were all held, as visitors took in the experience of the annual Tea and Tour event winding its way throughout town and live music and outdoor food vendors along Shepherdstown's main street.
"There were little pockets of things that I think were kind of neat," Tucker said.
Gardenfest, which served as the "beta test" for the BEST group's work, will be followed by "Dog Fest" in August, which will feature numerous dog-themed activities and promotions.
"It's good for us to have these kind of activities throughout the year," Tucker said, explaining that she thinks its the community events that characterize Shepherdstown's nature and best promote its appeal.
"I think that we achieved our goal," Rosen said of the event.
Despite what she described as "gloomy" weather, Rosen reported good business for Plum and strong interest from visitors who stopped by her shop.
"People seemed to really like it," she said.