The number one comment I heard from multiple individuals was that the people here are so friendly. I think that is something we take for granted. As we walk down the street it is not unusual for us to smile at a stranger passing by and offer a friendly greeting. For many who come from larger communities this is not the norm. They were also impressed by everyone’s helpfulness, willing to offer any assistance needed. It reminds me of the Juniata River Valley Visitors Bureau’s mantra, “Discover Our Good Nature,” which can be interpreted two ways. We do have good natured people as well as incredible natural beauty all around us.
That brings us to the next pro offered, how awed they were with our beautiful landscapes. One man described the area as being peaceful and tranquil. Another as providing a feeling of safety. It is hard not to be impressed by our beautiful mountains as they rise up, flanking our lush valleys. Then, there is the river offering the opportunity for many recreational activities such as kayaking, canoeing, tubing, and fishing. We also have many picturesque creeks, some of which offer Class A fishing. The proximity of our local state parks also impressed. The idea that they could drive a mere twenty to thirty minutes and enjoy these amenities was a huge selling point for our community.
After recounting the colorful story of our founding mother, Dorcas Buchanan, and pointing out other historic points of interest, they were intrigued by our history and folklore. Our unique celebration of Goose Day, along with viewing some of the 5-foot-tall painted geese, added to our mystique. They were also impressed by the quaintness of our shops and other retail, expressing their excitement to see more than just the common large box stores.
When is the last time you sat in traffic anywhere in the Juniata River Valley? That was another huge pro, the lack of traffic and the quality of our roads. Our other modes of transportation were also highlighted since we are fortunate enough to have a train station in Lewistown offering travel both eastbound and westbound as well as a newly established taxi service. Multiple buses also stop daily in Lewistown on their way to points beyond.
Last, but certainly not least, they were impressed by our food and drink options. They range from wineries, distilleries, breweries, coffee shops, ice cream shops, bar-b-que offerings, farm-to-table, and everything in between! Not only that, but many offer live entertainment opportunities as well. If you can’t find what you are looking for here in the Juniata River Valley, our location places us in the center of the state with several major cities within a few hours drive.
Why did I feel it was important to relay this experience to you? Because I think we need reminded of what we have right in front of us. It is time for us to pick up our heads, lift our chins, square our shoulders and be proud that we have the privilege to call this place our home. When you hear the naysayers accentuating our negatives, think of all we have and drown them out with positives! “Sometimes you can’t see what is right in front of you but when you finally open your eyes, you’ll wonder why you didn’t see it sooner.” Author unknown.
Rhonda S. Kelley, Executive Director, Juniata River Valley Chamber of Commerce