Chamber Receives Rural Video and Photography Grant To Enhance Tourism Efforts (View Video Here)

September 15, 2023

The Smithville-DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce has been awarded a Rural Video and Photography Grant for the purpose of promoting DeKalb County in an effort to enhance tourism outreach.

Chamber Director Suzanne Williams said this $16,500 grant was made available through the Tennessee Department of Tourism Development (TDTD).

“Producing high-quality video and photography assets can be resource-intensive, especially in rural areas like ours. Recognizing this need, TDTD partnered with Designsensory to provide DeKalb County with these invaluable assets,” said Williams.

“With this generous funding, we were equipped to produce compelling video content that will not only resonate with our target audience but also broaden our appeal to a wider range of tourists,” explained Williams. “We are truly excited to have secured this photography and video funding, as it empowers us to convey our story in a more engaging and impactful manner. Video content holds the incredible power to engage, educate, and inspire, and we firmly believe that it will transform our outreach endeavors”.

Williams said gaining acceptance for this initiative required meticulous planning, scheduling, and collaboration with numerous individuals. “Our initial steps involved selecting locations and determining which areas needed to be scouted in person.”

After organizing a two-day scouting schedule, designed with the assistance of Jen Sherwood, the Designsensory team joined forces with Williams to embark on the scouting tour. The first day of scouting included visits to Center Hill Lake and Dam, campgrounds, Edgar Evins State Park, marinas, and marina restaurants, Caney Fork River, Appalachian Center for Craft, Ace’s Restaurant, and The Retreat at Center Hill Lake. Day 2 commenced at Evins Mill, Your Glamping Adventure, Webb’s Soda Fountain, Downtown Smithville businesses and murals, Harmony Lane Farm & Creamery, Bert Driver Nursery/The Burlap Room, Twisted Oaks, and New Frontiers Camp.

Following the scouting phase, the Chamber assumed responsibility for organizing a three-day filming schedule, as well as identifying and scheduling talent, including families, fishermen, shoppers, hikers, kayakers, business owners, musicians, artists, customers, wake surfer, and anyone necessary to breathe life into the photography and video, authentically representing our unique locales.

“This project demanded an extensive investment of time, but the end result was more rewarding than we could have imagined. The photography was breathtaking, and the video exceeded all our expectations,” Willliams said.

“Our profound gratitude to the many individuals who made this project possible. Special thanks go to Center Hill Lake Resource Manager Kevin Savilla and staff, U.S. Corps of Engineers, Edgar Evins State Park Manager Brad Halfacre, park rangers, and the hiking family, Fly Fisherman and Park Ranger Lee Chadwell, Billie Davis and staff from Canoe the Caney, Harrison, Ansley & Renee of Hurricane Marina/Restaurant, William Cochran and Sharon Evans at Evins Mill, Matt and Dawn Bragstad of Your Glamping Adventure along with models Jon and Emilee, Karyn Walker of The Arts Garage for organizing an art class, Melissa Miller and her daughters for modeling during shopping scenes, Bert Driver of The Burlap Room/Harvester, Julie David of Harmony Lane Farm, Larry and Lorie Nellist and staff at New Frontiers, Kimberly Winkle at Appalachian Center for Craft, Joe and Angela and staff at Button Willow General Store and Coffee Shop, Lori and Alan and staff at Webb’s Soda Shop, Downtown Smithville Business Owners, and Tina Crips of The Retreat at Center Hill Lake,” said Williams.

“We also extend our appreciation to Cheryl’s Beau Bees, who provided lunch on one of the filming days, Evins Mill for breakfast, Hurricane Marina for the use of their watercraft, and The Retreat at Center Hill Lake for their generous provision of accommodations during the photography and video production”.

To explore the new tourism website and view the captivating tourism video, please visit

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