Banking on the back story in Breck’
BRECKENRIDGE – Ski towns across the West are looking to leverage every built-in advantage they have to draw visitors to their towns. More and more, that means marketing an area’s history and heritage to lure travelers keen to make a connection to the past.
In Breckenridge – a historic town with museums and mining relics – there is a push to maximize that built-in back story, and lure so-called heritage tourists to town. Step one in that effort was creating the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance to develop a plan to market the town’s rich history.”Heritage tourism combines so many different assets,” said Patrick Christopherson, a Minnesota transplant who became the alliance’s director in February. “When people say ‘heritage’ most people automatically think history, but culture, the arts, music, recreation – all that fun stuff we’re lucky enough to have here. It’s an overall concept of what Breckenridge’s heritage really is.”Christopherson has been cataloging the dozens of historical “assets” around town, and get additional exposure for them. But finding a way to integrate all the town’s history into an already well-established marketing machine is just one challenge Christopherson faces, he said.
“When you think of Breckenridge, we want to find out how we’ll fit in to that overall image,” he said. “We’ll be trying to see how we can form some kind of seamless integration between eight to 10 key sites in Breckenridge.”Christopherson said he recognizes the value of museums like The Barney Ford House and the Edwin Carter Museum.
“Barney Ford is absolutely, positively the cornerstone to whatever program we come up with. The walking tours have always been a great success, and very, very popular,” he said. “I think, in a perfect world, if we can establish some kind of theme through the walking tours to get folks out to all of these sites – sort of in one big package deal – I think that’s ideal.”The town has also embarked on an ambitious program to expand the downtown Arts District, and Christopherson sees a natural connection between the arts and the town’s history.”If you look back on the history of Breckenridge, the arts play a big part in that. It’s just a matter of presenting that as part of your past, while still being progressive,” he said.