It’s apropos that I’m posting this anniversary blog post on October 10, my birthday, because I have always considered ten to be my lucky number.
Thank YOU for taking this road trip with me and please don’t get out of the car now, the fun has just begun.
My first official HeidiTown blog post was posted on October 8, 2007, and that means HeidiTown is 10-years-old this month. At first, I thought I’d write a retrospective, but even the word “retrospective” sounds boring, so I decided to write a list. Lists are fun, lists are easy and I try not to do very many, so here you go.
1. The Who: My name is Heidi Kerr-Schlaefer. I was born in southern Oregon in a hospital that overlooked the Pacific Ocean. The ocean still calls, but the pull of Colorado sunshine is greater.
I grew up in a family that took road trips to most of the National Parks in the Western United States and who backpacked every summer into back country around Mt. Rainier. These trips instilled in me a strong love and respect for the natural world.
2. The Name: My husband, Ryan Schlaefer, came up with the name HeidiTown and created the brand’s original art work. The sign was inspired by the Vegas welcome sign and the stars were inspired by the old Celebrity Lanes’ stars that were part of Ryan’s Colorado childhood.
3. The Mayor: My friend, Leslie Collins, gave me the nickname, Mayor. I wish I’d thought of this creative title myself, but I have to give Leslie credit. As soon as she started calling me “The Mayor” way back in 2008, I adopted the title and began calling my readers and followers, “HeidiTown citizens.”
4. The Beginning: In the beginning, HeidiTown reviewed books, restaurants, and movies with an occasional trip or festival thrown in for good measure.
5. The Why: I started the blog about a year after I started freelance writing because everything I read in the mid-2000s recommended that a professional writer should have a blog. In all honesty, when I started HeidiTown.com I didn’t really know what a blog was, so I literally just stumbled along with no big plan of world domination (that came later).
6. The Backstory: While Ryan grew up in Colorado, we met in my home state of Washington. I moved here with him in 1999 with the intention of attending DU School of Law. As a pre-law student in college, I had studied political science, philosophy and French. In 2005, after a bit of early midlife crisis, I decided that I didn’t want to become a lawyer. In 2006, I got a job as a writer for a small town newspaper (and now you know the rest of the story).
7. The Niche: In early 2010, I decided to focus the theme of HeidiTown on Colorado festivals. Ryan and I have always been active road trippers, but once I started covering festivals our road trips became even more frequent and this led to travel writing. At the time, no one else was writing specifically about Colorado festivals, and very few people were concentrating only on Colorado travel; within a few months, hits on HeidiTown.com went way, way up and people began to enthusiastically engage with HeidiTown on social media.
Early this year, HeidiTown annexed six more states. Put a pin in Denver and make an eight-hour circle around the city and that’s the approximate region I’ll be covering. Colorado will still be the heart and soul of HeidiTown, but I do hope to incorporate a few articles throughout the year about surrounding states.
8. The Husband: I’ve been asked a number of times how Ryan is able to travel with me on most of my trips. He can join me because he’s also self-employed. We’ve co-own Ryan Schlaefer Fine Furniture, Inc. since 2004. Join us on Facebook here.
9. The How: People often ask how HeidiTown makes money, and the truth is, HeidiTown is a real business. Over the years, HeidiTown has contracted with festivals large and small, and destinations too. I also work as a freelance writer for various magazines and am the author of The Heidi Guide for MountainLiving.com.
10. The Best: I have made some truly great friends because of HeidiTown. Whether it’s the amazing travel and tourism people I get to work with every day, or readers/followers who have become close friends, my life has been enriched by HeidiTown more than I ever realized was possible.
Cheers! And here’s to another decade of festival-ling and exploring Colorado and beyond.