Success of Coalfields Cookoff offers glimpse of potential for economic growth in Welch

WELCH, WV (WOAY) – McDowell Street in downtown Welch was anything but quiet this past weekend.

Around 5,000 people in town for the West Virginia Coalfields Cookoff, a huge weekend for the city.

“Economically, it was great,” said Welch Mayor Harold McBride. “Everything was booked all around us. Every ATV cabin. Every motel.”

Businesses saw a big boost in customers. Renegade Outfitters held its grand opening during the cookoff. Having ATV riders in from out of town made a huge different for its first weekend.

“It’s good all around for the city of Welch,” said Renegade Outfitters owner Anthony Blankenship. “And us, as well.”

The crowd for the cookoff increased traffic for established businesses as well.

“This is unusual when we close to have that many people,” said Flat Iron Drug Store Pharmacy Manager John Latocha. “We locked the doors at 3:00 and it took us an hour to clear everybody out of the store.”

McBride believes Welch has the potential to become more of a tourist destination. The success of this past weekend should prove beneficial in both the short and long term.

“These events expose a lot of people to us,” McBride said. “And that’s what we want to continue to keep doing.”

For new business owners like Blankenship, taking advantage of the boost from the cookoff could lead to sustained success, as well as expansion.

“It gives the opportunity for more businesses to come in,” Blankenship said. “And also, it lets people see that we are here.”

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