Franklin Co. has more for tourists than its rich history

'This area has a lot of culture in it for such a small community'

June 05, 2011|By ROXANN MILLER |
  • A billboard along Interstate 81 welcomes visitors to Franklin County, Pa., and includes the website for the Franklin County Visitors Bureau.
Submitted photo

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — It's not Disney World or Washington, D.C., but Franklin County, Pa., has raked in its share of tourism dollars.

In 2007, more than $390 million was spent on travel in Franklin County, according to a Global Insight study.

The Franklin County Visitors Bureau broke off from the larger Hershey/Harrisburg Visitors Bureau in 2005 and launched its website in 2007.

"We were often thought of as a bedroom community for the Gettysburg experience, the Hershey experience, even the Lancaster experience," said Janet Pollard, director of tourism for the Franklin County Visitors Bureau. "By creating our own visitors bureau, it allowed us to expand awareness of what there was here."

While Franklin County's rich history is the hook that lures many history buffs to the area, Pollard said the county has a lot more to offer.

"As the brand promises, 'It's great moments along the way,'" Pollard said. "Whether it's going to the Capitol Theatre, the (H. Ric) Luhrs (Performing Arts) Center (in Shippensburg, Pa.), the Star Theatre in Mercersburg (Pa.), the Totem Pole Playhouse, or going to farmers' markets or local restaurants, it all twines together to make great moments."

In less than five years, Pollard and her small staff have made great strides in attracting visitors to the county.

Mark Miller, owner of Gypsie and a member of the visitors bureau's advisory board, said tourism has boosted the local economy.

"It's one of Franklin County's largest industries. It is huge," he said. "Interstate 81 is a huge conduit from north to south, and that is where we get a lot of our tourists."

Miller said many people heading south on I-81 stop in Chambersburg, grab a bite to eat and do a little shopping before getting back on the interstate.

"If you have the average person getting off the highway and spending the night, and having dinner and doing a little shopping, that maybe contributes $200-plus to the economy," Miller said.

Others find the slower pace of Franklin County inviting.

"It's a two-hour drive from millions of people," Miller said. "So I get a very large number of people from the Washington metro area who want to get away. So they end up here because it's a quaint town. They come here because it's different than what they come from."

Beth Thoresen, director of marketing and sales for the Capitol Theatre and another member of the visitors bureau's advisory board, said the county has variety.

"It is made up of a lot of neat, charming places to go," Thoresen said. "This area has a lot of culture in it for such a small community, and I think that kind of charm is very appealing."

Pollard said Franklin County is the place to find summer activities for all ages.

"I believe there is a lot to see and do in Franklin County," Pollard said. "I believe what we have is quality."

Looking for something to do?

The Franklin County Visitors Bureau is at 14 N. Main St. in Chambersburg, Pa.

For more information, call 717-977-1741 or go to

Upcoming events

  • Tuesday, June 14 — Hemmings Motor News Great Race pit stop in Chambersburg from noon to 2 p.m.
  • Saturday, June 25 Classic car and truck show in Waynesboro, Pa.
  • Saturday, July 16 Celebrate! The Arts at Old Market Day in Chambersburg
  • Friday, July 22 Reflections of Frank, Dean & Sammy at Orchards Restaurant and Lounge in Chambersburg

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