By Anna Smith
Located along the Trans-Canada Highway in Walsh, the Cypress County Welcome Centre is pleased to be open for the summer, offering information and an opportunity to stretch your legs for residents and travellers alike.
The Centre is already off to a stronger start this year, said welcome centre attendant Easton Nugent.
“In the month of May last year, we had about 250 visitors as opposed to this year, we just did our count. This year, we’ve already had 416,” said Nugent. “We’ve nearly doubled in the amount of visitors we have gotten. And we expect that to continually increase, especially now we’ve updated our signage and our social media presence.”
Another large part of the increase in visitors may be due to the increase in service, now that the centre is open seven days a week. Previously, they have been closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, much to the dismay of would-be visitors.
“That was definitely one of our bigger things from last year, as lots of people were disappointed when they showed up. And we were closed last year,” said Nugent. “So I think now being open seven days a week has been a big plus for us.”
Nugent is one of two attendants that returned for a second year working at the centre, and is happy to see all the ways they’ve already grown and improved upon what can be found at the highway-side building.
“We have brochures and pamphlets. For people who are travelling through who might be looking for any information. We mainly do information for Alberta. And then the very start of Saskatchewan, however, we do stuff for BC and kind of all over Canada as well,” said Nugent. “But it’s also a good rest stop. We have restrooms and picnic tables, lots of people like to stop by and have their lunches here. We have activities and games for young (kids) or for families with young children who want to stop by and take a break with them.”
Another key offering of the centre is their newly-renamed Badlands Boutique, which offers artisan works from various county residents.
“We have paintings, photographs, postcards, we just got in some books as well written by a local author. So we also have that open where we sell things if people are looking to get some cool artwork done by people in the county,” said Nugent. “We also do promotional videos on our social media, where we will go to businesses within the county, and we just take promotional videos for them when we post them and we show what they have to offer.”
New this year is their presence on some social media such as TikTok, which has been a fun experience for the attendants to put together promoting the centre and the various businesses and artists around the county.
“We’re looking to add more activities and more games, for young families to stop by and come. So we’re just looking at that right now to figure out what kind of stuff we can do with regards to that,” said Nugent.
Currently, the centre is gearing up for the third annual Celebrate Cypress County event on July 15, which is hosted at the Centre.
Currently, some of the details are still up in the air, said Nugent, but those interested can look forward to a bigger and better event than previous years, and the centre hopes to see everyone there to see what the county has to offer.