Partnership boosts tourism

May 04, 2024

Berea is expected to get a projected $250,000 boost to the local economy, thanks to a partnership between Berea Tourism and the Kentucky Educational Development Corporation (KEDC).

Berea City Administrator Rose Beverly highlighted the partnership last week during her report to the Berea City Council, noting that educators and administrators from 62 counties around Kentucky have been coming to Berea to take LearnShop courses specifically tailored for educators and administrators, teaching them about the history, art, music, industry and folklore of the Bluegrass State.

Many participants stay overnight in town, and they are given a spending stipend, much of which stays behind in Berea, Beverly said.

“It’s a great collaboration that’s brought a lot of people from all over the state into our community,” Beverly said, noting that money from outside the community is spent in Berea shops, restaurants, gas stations and accommodations. “Each participant receives a $150 stipend, plus their own spending, bringing a lot of commerce into our town.”

According to a recent report from Berea Business and Tourism Development Director Donna Angel, an analysis from the tourism’s marketing consultant, Right Place Media, provided the $250,000 spending figure based on surveys of local businesses.

The program began when representatives from KEDC reached out to Berea Tourism Program Manager Liz Todd. Todd recently reported to the Berea Tourism Commission that the classes have allowed many participants to discover Berea for the first time, and that they are often excited to return to Berea later as tourists.

The workshops are designed to give educators opportunities to explore Kentucky history through a variety of mediums, including story telling, broom making, gourd art, ceramics, empowerment drumming, Appalachian music, loom weaving and black smithing.

In the course of this year’s program, which runs through May 18, participants will also have the chance to sample some of the Berea’s outdoor offerings. “As the school year concludes, Berea LearnShops and KEDC will host a full day of relaxation and outdoor adventure in Berea as a thank you to the Kentucky educators and administrators to include 120 attendees, plus KEDC staff,” Beverly added.

Beverly said the program has also benefitted local artisans, who were often asked to add classes because of the popularity of their courses.

“It provided well-paying presenter opportunities for 24 local and regional artists, instructors, new and old, during their slower season,” Beverly said. “Each session has grown, doubling after the first date. The only constraint has been limiting the number of attendees that the artisan instructors could effectively accommodate to deliver an expert instruction class experience that LearnShops are known for.”

Berea Tourism is gearing up for another round of LearnShops from April 26-28. Part of the Enchanted Spring LearnShops Session II: A Season of Discovery, the courses feature of variety of creative mediums, including painting, sketch booking, wreath making, gourd burning, fascinator design, jewelry making, broom making and pottery.

Learn more about this weekend’s offerings at: Berea KY Tourism Learnshops | Berea Tourism (

The popular summer LearnShops series, which began in 2011, will run from July 22 – 30.

phil malicote