Tennessee Commissioner of Tourism Kevin Triplett and Tennessee Department of Tourism Regional Manager Dave Jones listen as Museum of Scott County curator Gary Sexton discusses the museum during a visit Friday, Feb. 19, 2016.
HUNTSVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee Tourism Commissioner Kevin Triplett “discovered Scott” on Friday, spending the day touring Scott County and some of the community’s tourism high points.
“The purpose of this visit is to see what the area has to offer,” explained Commissioner Triplett, who has served in the cabinet of Gov. Bill Haslam since April 2015.
The commissioner was joined on his visit to Scott County by Dave Jones, the Tennessee Department of Tourism’s regional manager, and Molly Gilbert, executive director of the Middle East Tennessee Tourism Council.
Commissioner Triplett, who served as Nascar’s managing director of business operations and Bristol Motor Speedway’s vice president of public affairs before making the move to Nashville, began his morning with a visit to Brimstone Recreation in Huntsville. From there, he toured the buildings and grounds of the Museum of Scott County before ending the day at the Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area, where he toured the Bandy Creek Visitor Center and visited East Rim Overlook.
“We are very appreciative of Commissioner Triplett, Dave Jones and Molly for making the visit to Scott County,” Scott County Chamber of Commerce executive director Stacey Kidd said. “The Tennessee Department of Tourism is a wonderful partner in our efforts to promote Scott County and the Big South Fork region to the world.”
Commissioner Triplett looks over a map of the Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area at the Bandy Creek Visitor Center amid a conversation with park superintendent Niki Stephanie Nicholas.
At Brimstone, Commissioner Triplett met with founder and president Mark Love, who explained the ins and outs of the ATV-oriented business, which manages recreation on 20,000 acres of the Cumberland Mountains outside Huntsville. The privately-owned company has helped put Scott County on the map with expansive advertising aimed at national audiences, and Memorial Day and Labor Day ATV festivals attract thousands of tourists to Scott County annually.
At the Museum of Scott County, the commissioner was given a tour of the museum grounds by curator Gary Sexton and Scott High student Jordan Hughett. Started as a single log structure to house artifacts dating from the northern Cumberland Plateau’s paleo era all the way up to the days when coal was king in the Cumberland Mountains, the museum has since grown to several acres on the campus of Scott High School, including a replica pioneer village with authentic pioneer-era buildings that were disassembled, moved to the school and reassembled by students.
At Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area, park superintendent Niki Stephanie Nicholas spoke to the visitors about the various usage groups that are attracted to the 125,000-acre national park, which is the fifth largest east of the Mississippi River. Following a presentation at the Bandy Creek Visitor Center, Nicholas joined Commissioner Triplett and his guests for a visit to the East Rim Overlook, an easily-accessible vantage point of the Big South Fork River off S.R. 297 near Oneida.
Commissioner Triplett snaps a photo of the Big South Fork River Gorge from East Rim Overlook in the Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area.
“We were delighted to spend the day exploring Scott County with Commissioner Triplett,” Kidd said. “Our only regret was that we weren’t able to touch more of the highlights of what our area has to offer, but that speaks to the volume of what we do have for visitors. There’s no way you can even scratch the surface of what we have in just one day.”
The Scott County Chamber of Commerce is currently completing its tourism marketing plan for 2016, including rack cards in visitors centers throughout Tennessee, along with its annual Discover Scott publication, thousands of which are widely distributed to guests and potential visitors to Scott County.
Joining Commissioner Triplett, Jones and Gilbert on their tour of Scott County Friday morning were Kidd and Scott County Chamber of Commerce Tourism Committee members Jacob Billingsley and Ben Garrett.
Commissioner Triplett is joined by Brimstone Recreation representatives Erika Schmelter, Mark Love, Donika Lee and Greg West.