Journal-Times (Grayson, KY)

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August 14, 2013

FEAT Conference 2013

Aug. 14, 2013 — Small business representatives from five counties congregated in Salt Lick recently for a chance to promote their businesses, enjoy performances and network.

Carter, Elliott, Menifee, Wolf and Morgan counties participated in this year’s East Kentucky Foothills Eco-Agritourism, Corp. (FEAT) conference, held at the Elliott County High School Performing Arts Center.

These businesses were able to showcase their specialties in a number of ways, including contributing door prizes, setting up displays in the lobby and performing or speaking during the formal sessions.

Dave Beam, an action coach from Wheelersburg, Ohio, conducted most of the informative sessions on the opening day. He spoke on topics of marketing the uniqueness of Appalachian culture, how to effectively advertise and capped off the day with explaining how FEAT benefits small businesses.

The second day began with breakfast in the courtyard just before the welcoming ceremony where Scott Kuzak sang America the Beautiful Medley.

During the first part of the day, presentations were given by Teresa Brown, editor of All Things Country Magazine. Brown also spoke on the value of social media in today’s market and offered free mentoring for small business.

The Hazel Holler Girls bluegrass band performed and Gwenda Johnson and Jo Ann Butts showed off their storytelling abilities by presenting their own “The Outhouse” authored by Johnson and musical composition and accompaniment by Butts.

The duo promoted the Kentucky Storytelling Conference 2013 Regional Spotlight Event that’s slated for Nov. 1-2 at Greenbo Lake State Resort Park.

A group of high school musicians from Elliott County High School, calling their band East Kentucky Blue, played a variety of songs including country, traditional bluegrass and gospel.

Homemade jewelry, handcrafted dolls and antiques lined the lobby walls.

Linda Johnson displayed handmade dolls, which she’s been making since the late 1970s. Johnson said all the dolls, which she names, have distinct personalities.

The conference was open to the entire public, not just FEAT members. At the booth for Serenity Farm Guest House, managed by Brenda Kahl, her husband, Harvey Kahl, expressed the pleasurable experience he had at the conference this year.

“I’m not a member of FEAT, but I definitely will be now,” he said. “I was very happy I came to the conference with my wife.”

Gayle Clevenger, FEAT director, said the conference didn’t garner the type of turnout she would have liked.

Planning is already underway for next year and Clevenger said she hopes to reel in new businesses and attendees with increased marketing strategy in the following months.

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