Recently, my wife and I have come to appreciate the huge amount of free community activities and entertainments available in our town. We used to find such things to be “lame,” but quite often that was a result of not knowing the huge array of things that were available to us and also a basic unwillingness to even try them out – we believed we knew better. Instead, we just found ourselves spending money on all sorts of activities when the truth was that things that were just as fun were available for free in our town.
Now, instead of going to a concert and spending a bunch of money on a ticket, we head to a park and listen to the community band. Instead of going out to eat, we can join up with a community potluck or drop a few dollars in the collection jar at a community fundraising dinner. Instead of burning an afternoon at a shopping mall buying junk we don’t need, we spend the day at a community festival. Instead of going to the theatre, we watch the high school class perform The Glass Menagerie. Not only is it cheaper, we get to know our locale in a much more personal fashion.
Now that we’re addicts of the community calendar, here are five great ways we’ve found to discover great community activities and entertainments in your town that are free or nearly so.
The local newspaper This is the most obvious place to look. Stop at a gas station and find the most local newspaper available. Almost all of them will have some sort of community calendar and at least an article or two about major upcoming community events. The articles are almost always of interest because they can describe an event in detail to you.
The visitor’s center Many towns (even some small ones) have a visitor’s center that can identify a lot of interesting activities and places to visit nearby. Even if you’ve lived in a place all of your life, a visitor’s center can still point out tons of interesting things to check out locally.
City hall Stop in at city hall and see what you can come up with. Many towns have a printed community calendar available in their city hall (or in another place that you can be directed to easily) with even more detail than what appears in the newspaper.
Chamber of commerce The local chamber of commerce can usually connect you to members of the community who can help you find all sorts of activities of interest. Before trying them, I expected that I would just be bombarded with commercial pitches, yet I have never found a chamber of commerce that wasn’t thrilled to point me towards community activities of all kinds.
The post office In small towns, believe it or not, the post office is the place to go for this kind of information. Not only is their bulletin board often jammed with notices of upcoming events, the postmaster almost always knows what’s going on – and if they don’t, they can point you right at someone to talk to. In my town, the postmaster was one of the most helpful people of all in terms of helping us discover the possibilities of the town.
The next time you’re tempted to go out on the town and drop some money on entertainment, take a bit of time and look around your town to see what sorts of free entertainments can be found. You may be surprised at the variety and depth of what’s available.