OLD FORT — Visitation to Mountain Gateway Museum in Old Fort for October 2012 was up 79.3 percent over October 2011. The three day Oktoberfest, an increase in school groups and more on-site weddings all contributed to the increased October numbers.
“In addition to a beautiful fall season here in the mountains, numerous factors have made October a great month for us. We have had good partnerships, great programs, and a wonderful response from the public to our ongoing community outreach,” explains Site Administrator Terrell Finley. “We also are finding that our online presence and social media posts are heightening awareness to the museum and our many offerings.”
Local partnerships with organizations like the Old Fort Chamber of Commerce and the McDowell County Tourism Authority have been extremely beneficial. “I can’t say enough good things about the authority and Director Carol Price. They provide advertising assistance, keep us advised of upcoming opportunities, and even funded the printing of rack cards,” Finley concludes.
The word is getting out about the rustic charm of the amphitheater as a memorable venue for weddings. The natural beauty continues to draw couples to the site for idyllic summer weddings and for fall weddings with rich autumn hues, and beautiful photographs in any season.
School groups from western and central North Carolina, primarily fourth and eighth graders, come to see how settlers on North Carolina’s western frontier lived in the 1800s. Two 19th century log cabins and exhibits on folk medicine and moonshining are among features that provide enriching details to history taught on the printed page.
The museum site also features a N.C. Wildlife Resources trout stream (part of their Mountain Heritage Trout Waters), and is a member of their tackle loaner program.
This most successful fall at Mountain Gateway is part of a trend at museums and State Historic Sites within the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources, where the web presence is increasing through www.ncculture.com, and Facebook and Twitter activity.
“Visitors are discovering that our state supported historic sites and museums offer great family fun,” says Cultural Resources Secretary Linda Carlisle, who noted that state history museums overall are seeing an increase in visitation, including a 37 percent increase during October over the previous October.
Since becoming a state museum in 1979, the Mountain Gateway Museum has showcased the rustic frontier life on the western edge of North Carolina’s expansion in the 1800s. Mountain Gateway presents three annual programs, including Pioneer Day in April, the North Carolina Gold Festival in June, and Oktoberfest. It also presents 2nd Saturday programs in June, July and August, as part of a statewide initiative of Cultural Resources launched in 2010.
New this year will be expanded holiday programs. Mountain Gateway will be on the Old Fort Tour of Homes on Dec. 7-8, and will be open 6-9 p.m. The site will be decorated and refreshments will be served. Community churches will also present a live nativity scene on the tour dates.
For additional information call (919) 807-7389. The Mountain Gateway Museum is a unit of N.C. Department of Cultural Resources. For more information on North Carolina arts, history and culture, visit Cultural Resources online.