New Branding Aimed to Bring Tourists to Hardin County


By Nick Hausen

ELIZABETHTOWN -- From Garden of the Gods, to the scenic Ohio River, to the historic buildings in between, Hardin County offers many attractions for people looking to get away. Now, they're trying to get the word out.

More than a half dozen journalists could be found with cameras in hand taking in the sights of Elizabethtown Wednesday afternoon. The small community nestled on the bluffs of the Ohio River offers places to kickback and take in the views, but travel journalists like Jinny Danzer had never been.

"I think a lot of people don't know about it," said Danzer. "The cyclists, a lot of them know about the Tunnel Hill Trail, and I guess the horseback riders know about the River to River, but I think in general, not many people know about it."

Danzer and several fellow journalists were invited to Hardin County in hopes that they'll write articles promoting the attractions and lodging. It's a step to rebrand Hardin County and surrounding areas as the Illinois Ozarks.

"This is the soft adventure capital in southern Illinois for hiking, for equestrian, for horseback riding, this is the place to come and we have such beautiful scenery and we just want to make sure everyone knows about it," explained Hardin County Main Street president Todd Carr.

Hardin County Main Street aims to bring more visitors and more businesses to the county. He says it's been a slow process, but the group's work has started to pay off.

"Many of our lodging establishments in the county are seeing week long stays, people coming and not just staying for the weekend but coming for the whole week and really touring all of Southern Illinois," said Carr.

Carr points out that the number of available rooms in Hardin county has doubled in the past decade.

Some of the journalists Wednesday had been to Southern Illinois before, but had never been to Hardin County. They toured some of the more popular attractions and even got to eat some of the locally caught catfish.

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