Celebrating culture, walkability

256
This sign welcomes people to Yukon, which is symbolic of Route 66 and Czech heritage. (File photo)

By Alyssa Sperrazza
Staff Writer

Yukon’s Main Street initiative is continuing its work to grow and enhance the downtown area along the historic Route 66.

Vicki Davis, Main Street Director and Tourism Marketing Associate, said their second community workshop went well and now the work really begins.

“From there, we had decided on two major strategies for our downtown development,” Davis said. “One is centered around cultural tourism, heritage cultural tourism, and the other is the connectivity and walkability of the downtown districts.”

Davis said the work becomes more complex when trying to bring both safe and beautiful sidewalks while also creating a habit of people walking from business to business.

Walkability is normally associated with larger cities where everything is not so spread out, but Davis is hoping to connect the downtown area in a productive way to encourage more people to walk around, from the business located near City Hall to 10 West Main.

“The downtown area is from Garth Brooks to Cornwell, so we’re wanting to make sure it’s a safe passageway but also promoting walkability and that brings in a healthy lifestyle as well and connects the businesses,” Davis said. “Many of our programs will center around those two strategies, so as we plan events and do different promotions, we will look at that. Can we further our cultural tourism and further the connectivity?”

Heritage cultural tourism will work to promote Yukon’s heritage, from the city’s deep Czech culture to promoting the history and heritage of Route 66.

“We’re all familiar with our Czech heritage, we’re familiar with the culture of Route 66, and then we have a Chisholm Trail crossing as well as of course our mill district,” Davis explained. “There is so much of the cowboy and western heritage here too, so when we learn to celebrate that and promote that and to draw them out, we will attract more and more people to our area. So that might manifest in events, it might manifest in public art or the businesses. One of the things that came up in our workshop is that we’re the Czech Capital of Oklahoma but we don’t have Czech-based businesses so just being mindful of those opportunities.”

Davis said she’s encouraged to hear current government officials as well as city council candidates discuss how they want to continue encouraging and helping build up and promote the downtown area.

“It takes the whole community to be involved for such an undertaking,” Davis said. “The development and revitalization of Main Street is an ongoing process. It’s never done… it’s incremental, working at it a little bit at a time as we go. Some of the projects will be great as we go along but we’ll more often celebrate the smaller, day-to-day victories.”

Davis said there are several events coming up in the spring, including a women’s-focused event the first weekend in April. Other dates are still being confirmed, with several events still in the planning stages. Davis said they are looking to do an art show and a car show with more information coming soon.

Davis said they are always looking for volunteers to help get involved in the events as they continue to grow the downtown area and work to promote the culture and accessibility of Yukon.