by Michael Smith
(Weldon, North Carolina)
By Michael Smith (Rural Ethnography Solutions Website)
As a independent Qualitative Ethnography Researcher, I've watched the small rural community cleanup, use what they had to work with and successfully execute a plan to make a huge splash and brand their town as the "Rockfish Capital of the World."
"Rocky" aka a Striped Bass found a nesting place along the Roanoke River Rapids Park in Weldon, NC this year to welcome visitors, tourists, boat and fishing enthusiast that come from around the world for the annual spring and late summer fishing tournaments in Weldon.
Rocky slipped past the Roanoke River Rapids to find a second resting place at Weldon's Town Hall, third Radio Station and then finally Rocky was hoisted up where all could see as they enter Weldon's Downtown shopping district.
I have a birds-eye view of Rocky from my apartment window and I've observed motorists attracted by Rocky and stopping to capture Rocky's massive size and awesome detail with their cameras and read the history about this small rural town's new beginning documented by the NC State in 1972, as the Rockfish Capital of the World.
For more information, visit Rural Ethnography Solutions.
Thanks for that great story, Michael. When the four of us who put together all the content for this site discussed this submittal, everyone had a story to tell about some attempt to make a small town the capital of this or that.
Weldon seems to have found an effective spokesperson and storyteller in Michael.
We noticed that nowhere on our site have we talked about the common plants and animals in your area as a major resource in branding your town as an interesting place to be.
All small towns, whether they know it or not, really need a claim to fame if they aspire to be more. Today we call that Unique Selling Proposition of a person, place, or thing "branding," as in causing name-brand recognition.
We're suggesting that if you think you don't have anything that would set your "brand" apart, you're probably overlooking something really obvious.
Do you have a lot of ladybugs? Oh, they're cute. Is it so hot you can bake cookies on a car hood? (Don't you have a name for that?) Do the eagles pass over you and stay awhile every January?
Are the mosquitoes so big that once one did something-or-other?
Of course, it's helpful if, as in Weldon's case, your mascot is large enough to see and be seen, so partly we're jesting when we suggest insects.
The more dramatic you can make your story, the better. And what it takes to weave your unique characteristic into a story that will create a brand is a little creativity.
Creativity doesn't cost money. It does require a sense of fun, trust that your idea won't be shot down instantly, the ability to imagine strange thoughts and maybe put together some dissimilar ideas.
You can do it, small rural towns. We know you can. (See our page about small town character too.
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