As the editor of 573 Magazine, I am always amazed at the talented people I meet in the 573. Artists, writers, doctors, plumbers, students, retirees…most have super fascinating lives just out there minding their own business. Most are not the kind of people who need constant reassurance on social media, clubs, or business organizations. Nope, they are just "out there" doing their thing, taking care of business and their families. They are the true spirit of 573 and the very reason we began 573 Magazine some 15 years ago. They are true superheroes.
A Superhero on the Perryville town square.
Recently we caught up with a woman who lives in the hills surrounding Perryville. In a few short years, we've watched her climb from someone with an interest in local history to the regional tourism director for Perry County. You may be thinking, big deal, why should I care? You should care because there is a great lesson to be learned from her. Not just a hard-working woman getting to the top of her game. No, there is much, much more to this story.
This 573Magazine.com Story is sponsored in part by First State Community Bank in Farmington, Missouri!
Meet Trish Erzfeld. She is an outward thinker making Perryville one of the best places for day trips in the 573. For several years Trish has been helping us find story ideas. She helps us with our events—chalk festivals, mud festivals, film festivals…and recently, she has been helping us make a new film in Perryville. Simply put, and here is where the lesson comes into play—none of this happens by accident; nope, Trish and the gang at Perryville make things happen for Perryville. They pull 573 Magazine to Perryville because they want YOU in Perryville. They make giving attention to Perryville a pleasure and always welcome ALL OF YOU with open arms.
Trish at the Faherty House built between 1827 and 1831 is located in Perryville and open for tours.
Tell us about you and your family. I was born and raised in Perry County on a farm in Menfro. I married Dave Erzfeld in 1985—we have been married 38 years! We have one daughter, Kaycee. She is currently a student at St. Louis University, finishing her degree to be a Physician Assistant.
Tell us how you came to become the Perryville tourism director. In June 2015, Perryville decided to create the Perry County Heritage Tourism. I was given the opportunity to serve as our first tourism director then and have proudly served in this capacity since then.
Tell us about some of the wonderful tourist locations around Perryville. We have so many wonderful places to visit, from the National Shrine and the largest Rosary Walk in North America to the serene Missouri National Veterans Memorial. If you have never been able to visit the Wall in D.C. this is your chance! We are the only full-size exact replica of the Vietnam Wall in D.C. The Lutheran Heritage Center & Museum professionally interprets the largest organized German immigration to the United States in 1839, and the Saxon Lutheran Memorial is a beautiful living history museum village of 13 fully furnished hand-hewn log structures dating back to the 1800s when so many of our German immigrants were settling in Missouri. We have an amazing and unique karst system in Perry County. With over 700 caves mapped and identified, we have some of the longest caves in Missouri, and we love promoting our "Wild Caving" program, that is unique to Perry County. Our American Tractor Museum is one of the best agricultural museums in the nation. This unique collection of tractors tells the story of the evolution of that plowed, planted, and harvested the American dream for centuries.
Perryville has come from a rundown tiny town and town square to a vital and attractive tourism destination in less than 8 years. Can you tell us why you think this happened? I think that is because we have all been working collectively. City, county, economic development, chamber of commerce, Perryville Downtown Revitalization, and tourism all works in tandem with each other on events, trails, and sites. Our cultural sites, museums, and organizations work together to collaborate and build awareness of our history and heritage. We work hard to make sure everyone is on the same page and working toward the same goals. We also try to work together as a team on our challenges, solving problems we come up against, and we are always thinking innovatively. A rising tide lifts all ships, is our thinking.
The American Tractor Museum is one of the best agricultural museums in the nation.
What role do events play in making a community vital? Having events in our community is vital to engagement with our businesses and bringing people to our community. It gives us opportunities to showcase our city/county and attract people who have a variety of interests, whether it is a cruise-in pop-up car show, cycling event, barn quilt trail, Rocktoberfest, the Christmas Country Church Tour, or some of our major events such a Mayfest, the Seminary Picnic or the East Perry Community Fair we want to provide a variety of events for of a variety of interests. Almost every weekend, we hold a micro event to attract tourism.
The Missouri National Veterans Memorial in Perryville.
What's next up (future plans) at Perryville tourism-wise? We are still working on the completion of our Legion Lake Multi-Use Trail, that will feature 4.5 miles of mountain bike trail with some down-directional paths. It will also include a dirt pump track and a skills trail area. We are working on some gravel road cycle races. We just published our new Perry County Barn Quilt guide with 66 locations to explore. The 2023 Outdoor Sculpture Exhibit was just installed for the year, and hopefully, we will be designated as a Missouri German Corridor, highlighting the German impact on our history and heritage. Later this summer, we will be installing a self-guided walking tour around our downtown with plaques of interesting facts of history and photographs attached to several buildings around our square. We will be gearing up for our 18th annual Christmas Country Church Tour in December, featuring nearly 40 rural country churches, and we are planning an amazing 2024 Total Solar Eclipse weekend with events and activities April 6-8, 2024, as we celebrate our second total solar eclipse in seven years to pass over Perry County!
And, of course, we are working with 573 Magazine to develop FilmFriendlyPerryville.com. Film Friendly Perryville is geared towards helping indie filmmakers find locations, actors, and support teams in Perryville. With this partnership, we are attracting low-budget film productions to Perryville and hosting the 573 Film Festival—super cool!
Any advice you like to share with other small-town tourism efforts? Focus on what makes your town special. That is your strength! Don't be afraid to think BIG! Think outward, not inward and collaborate…that is the key. You can accomplish more than you think when everyone is moving in the same direction.
WOW. What more can I say? Perryville gets it. Perryville has outwardly thinking. Perryville inspires others. Perryville GETS OUT THERE.
We hope this is an inspiration for other small towns in the 573. When chambers, clubs, and other organizations work together and focus on being the good finders in your community with a welcoming and cheerful heart, the world truly is a better place. If you build it, they will come.
GET OUT THERE! I command you. (Ha Ha)
Supreme Leader T. Smugala —573 Magazine
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