Blake Shelton Draws Tourists To Tishomingo
TISHOMINGO, Oklahoma - There's nothing like the stars to draw in tourists, and Oklahoma has more than its share of famous faces. In Tishomingo, it's Blake Shelton who has put the small town on the map.
It's not Nashville, but when Blake Shelton is in town, it might as well be.
"We love you Blake," a group of fans screamed on the streets of Tishomingo.
They were among dozens of other fans lining up to see Shelton and fellow country music star Luke Bryan in a benefit concert that was held recently for the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Foundation.
"It's cool, I've never been to Tishomingo, so it's pretty cool," said Katrina Beller, a fan from Tulsa.
But the fans came from all over.
"Drove to Boston, flew to Dallas, rented a car and drove here," said Sue Foran, a fan from Connecticut.
She made the trek to Oklahoma just to watch Shelton perform at his new venue, The Doghouse.
"This is literally a dream come true for me to have something like this," said Blake Shelton.
The music hall is an extension of Shelton's already popular restaurant Ole Red.
"I was gone for 11 years, but when I finally found that moment that seemed appropriate where I felt like I had my foot in the door in Nashville, I had some songs on the radio, I'm gonna slip back to Oklahoma," said Shelton.
That was in 2006 and since then Shelton has helped draw visitors to his adopted hometown of Tishomingo.
"The amount of traffic that we have has increased probably 70-80 percent compared to before he came," said Tishomingo Mayor Don Keel.
Shelton's presence spurred other businesses downtown and even a new visitors center.
"It's all year, you have thousands of people that come in," said Kelcey Upton, special events manager for the city.
Tishomingo is the capital of the Chickasaw Nation, where visitors can see the historic Chickasaw National Capitol building and other museums like Chickasaw Council House and the Chickasaw White House.
Just outside of town, you can get a taste of the outdoors where the Luther and Vicki Harbert built a one cabin bed and breakfast after retiring from teaching.
"They want peace and quiet, they love to listen to the cattle, they love to hear the birds sing, they can't believe all the stars at night," said Vicki Harbert, Cedar & Stone Bed and Breakfast.
Vicki does the cooking and Luther shows them nature. He takes guests across his nearly 900-acre cattle ranch.
"I never tire of bringing anyone over here and sharing this with them," said Luther Harbert, Cedar & Stone Bed and Breakfast. "It's a good place to just come and disconnect and kick your feet up and enjoy nature."
And while the country music draws them in, it's the beauty of the town that keeps them here a little bit longer.