News and Events
  • Friday, May 18, 2018
    County seeing rise in tourism
    Fifty years ago, Washington County’s Bluebonnet Trails were visited by 150 people.

    They were given seeds, maps and area information while they enjoyed the beloved bluebonnets in fields around the county.

    In 2018, the Brenham/Washington County Chamber-Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) estimates that 25,000 people visited in March and April to enjoy the blooming wildflowers.

    “March and April are our busiest months at the Visitor Center,” said Jenny Mills, tourism director of the chamber-CVB. “Between all the phone calls, walk-in visitors and online inquiries, we connect personally with close to 100 people each week day and well over 100 on Saturdays. The number of people who get our wildflower updates online is in the thousands.”

    Spring is a bountiful season for Washington County in many ways. The annual Texas Independence Day Celebration at Washington on the Brazos kicks off the season the first weekend of March. The popular park reported a record high of visitors last this year’s celebration, with more than 7,500 visitors, along with 6,000 during spring break week.

    Spring break is the busiest week of the season. Blue Bell Creameries had more than 15,200 visitors to its parlor, visitor center and Country Store.

    “Chamber-CVB staff assisted on-site at Blue Bell, directing the crowds to county-wide attractions and dining options,” said Mills.

    The Chappell Hill Bluebonnet Festival and Cotton Gin Festival in Burton capped off the bluebonnet season, with each drawing 25,000 or more visitors. Other events included the Head for the Hills bike ride hosted by the Washington County Rotary Club, the Blue Bell Fun Run and the spring antiques shows at La Bahia, Round Top and Warrenton.

    All of this activity boosts the local economy tremendously, chamber officials say. Visitors to the area purchase food, gifts and gasoline and stay overnight, and by doing so their purchases add to tax receipts collected in Washington County. Sales tax dollars help fund city and county operations such as roads and bridges, parks, library, police and fire departments, and offset a portion of county property taxes.

    Also, hotel taxes, which help fund promotions of Washington County as a tourist destination, were up 2.3 percent for the January-March period, compared to the same time frame in 2017.

    The city of Brenham and Washington County are also seeing an overall increase in their sales tax rebates.

    “We prepare all year long for March and April, knowing it’s the busiest time of year and the peak of local economic activity,” said Mills. “The bluebonnets were wonderful this year, and we had great weather nearly every weekend. This was a perfect spring for Washington County and we are thrilled to see high numbers across the board.”