Wilson attractions draw national attention

Posted 10/8/19

A new tourism branding campaign has garnered roughly 25 million impressions online for Wilson in the past year.

“To have 25 million people accessible to Wilson and all the things we’ve done in …

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Wilson attractions draw national attention

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A new tourism branding campaign has garnered roughly 25 million impressions online for Wilson in the past year.

“To have 25 million people accessible to Wilson and all the things we’ve done in the last year is amazing,” said Dennis Johnson, general manager of the Comfort Suites and chairman of the Wilson County Tourism Development Authority Board of Directors.

Local officials hired Clean, a Raleigh-based agency, to develop a new campaign for the area, which launched in October 2018. The colorful, quirky images have appeared in print, online and on social media and have been incorporated into a new website for the visitors center ­at https://wilson-nc.com/. Johnson said the campaign has spurred a 137% increase in website users, an increase of 151% in new users and a 121% increase in website sessions since the launch.

Clean also has helped Wilson push out more than 70 public relations efforts and generate 17 million impressions for the 2018 N.C. Whirligig Festival. Officials are meeting with marketing staff today to discuss plans to market this year’s festival scheduled for Nov. 2-3 in historic downtown Wilson.

Johnson noted that a partnership has been developed with a new statistics class at Barton College where students will be surveying festival attendees as part of a class project. Those stats will be used to secure grants and promote tourism.

In conjunction with the festival, Gig 360 Young Professionals are selling tickets to the Feast of the East. The event will be from 7 to 10 p.m. on Nov. 1 at the Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park with a pig and oyster roast along with craft beer from area breweries with proceeds going to park improvements.

“We want to have a big community pre-party before the festival,” said Drew Barker, marketing, events and sports coordinator. “You’ll get to see all the hustle and bustle of festival preparations all around and we’ll have live music. It will be a really cool event.”

Tickets are $65 and must be purchased by Oct. 23 online at wilsonwhirligigpark.org/feast/. The tourism board voted Tuesday to purchase a $1,000 sponsorship for the event.


217 Brew Works earned national recognition Saturday as the Triple-Whirl garnered the bronze medal in the Belgian Tripel beer-style category at the 2019 Great American Beer Festival in Denver.

“The entire 217 brew crew and especially our head brewer Sam Millard are very honored by this recognition,” said owner Tom Curran. “We pride ourselves not only in the thoughtful and balanced beers and craft sodas we create, but also as a part of the downtown turn around efforts in historic downtown Wilson.”

Nearly 9,500 entries were submitted from 2,295 breweries across the nation as 322 judges from 18 countries narrowed down the best beers in 107 beer categories. Visit greatamericanbeerfestival.com and 217brewworks.com for more information.

Got an idea for news to include in next week’s Main Street Minute? Don’t hesitate to reach out to me at 252-265-7821 or bhandgraaf@wilsontimes.com.