'We're starting to notice things picking up now'; St. Marys recovering with opening of attractions
LONDON, ONT. -- Like many small towns in the region, St. Marys has taken a hit during the pandemic.
First, the nearby Stratford Festival shut its doors, and nearly every tourist attraction in Stonetown has been off limits for months.
The induction weekend at the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum (CBHOF) was also cancelled last month which brings thousands to the region.
The town received a bit of a reprieve Saturday when the doors to Hall of Fame opened to tourists for the first time this season.
Normally open the first week of May, it is two months behind schedule.
"We opened at 10 a.m. this morning, people here by 10:30 am, "says Scott Crawford, director of operations for the CBHOF.
"We are hoping for summer tourism season for July and August where people can come in and talk baseball. We have safety measures in place where everything is enclosed, so you can come enjoy with hands off, and talk."
This weekend would have been the Homecoming-Heritage Festival. Homecoming happens just once every ten years, so Queen Street would have been packed.
"It's a very different world downtown right now," says Robert Edney, a town councillor and member of the local economic task force.
"We are looking at ways to put feet in the street and bodies in stores," adds Edney.
It’s something that Scott Jackson of the Stonetown Barber is looking forward to.
He's been busy of late, but the first few months during COVID-19 were tough for all businesses’ in town.
"Since June it's been a lot better," says Jackson.
"We're starting to notice things picking up now, including getting visitors from neighboring communities."
While the CBHOF opened its doors Saturday, the other major attraction in the region will take the locks off Monday. The Quarry will be open for swimming with COVID-19 protocols in place. It's a great sign for the turnaround of local tourism.
"Having the hall of fame open again it's a cornerstone in our community," says Edney.
"The Quarry is a tourist attraction, and not just for outsiders but for our local kids. To know that it's open and they can all get relief in 30 degree weather we've been having is so nice."