Davidson County improving access to the Yadkin River

DAVIDSON COUNTY, N.C. -- When you drive into Lexington, there are guide signs directing you to some of the many popular attractions like The Candy Factory.

"The governor has been here," The Candy Factory employee Kenny Searles said. "People from Ireland, Japan, all around the world."

And when their trip brings them back to Davidson County, they stop at the shop.

"Candy is like a song," Searles said. "You get it as a kid and you hear it again and it reminds you when you were a kid again. We got a lot of old candy. It gives a lot of people good memories."

And tourists are spending a lot of money. In Davidson County, visitor spending is up 3 percent. To keep the tourism dollars flowing, leaders are looking at the Yadkin River. With $1 million in donations and grants, Tourism Recreation Investment Partnership or TRIP has acquired 200 acres of land along the river.

"In some cases, you have to cross over private land," TRIP Executive Director Chris Phelps said. "Our organization has negotiated the land acquisition and funding sources."

At the York Hill boat access, plans call for building a better access for canoes and kayaks along with picnic shelters. Nearby, the historic Wil-Cox Bridge will become a walkway that will carry visitors across the Yadkin River into Rowan County. York Hill boat access improvements will begin in early 2018 and finish just in time for the summer season. Davidson County Parks and Recreation Director Thomas Marshburn can't wait for the new park to open.

"It's a work coming together that's going to make this an awesome 25- to 30-acre park," Marshburn said.

Plus when you add in the other parks, Marshburn said Davidson County will become an even bigger attraction for folks who like to be outside.

"We've seen our numbers go from 70,000-80,000 to over 300,000 participants in our facilities this year. So that is tourism happening," Marshburn said.

Davidson County's tourism industry is catching the eye of travel writers. This weekend a group will paddle on the Yadkin, sample local cider and wines and eat plenty of barbecue.

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