Over the last few weeks I've been amazed by the number of people I have seen out looking to find the 90 scarecrows along the districts famous Scarecrow Trail.
The creativity shown in the scarecrow displays and the efforts put in by the scarecrow makers, has been outstanding. The associated trail competition currently under way is a fun, free activity for everyone to do and the enthusiasm shown by the kids (and parents) is obvious.
The Scarecrow Trail competition finishes this Friday, so if you haven't been out and had a look yet, make sure you do.
But it's not just locals enjoying our town, there are large numbers of visitors to the district right now.
It is perfect timing to run our scarecrow trail at the same time as the garden festival, which attracts huge numbers of visitors to the region each year.
Judging by the constant number of vehicles parked outside each of the display gardens over the last few weeks, this year's festival has already been a huge success. I congratulate the local gardeners who have put in an incredible amount of work to have their gardens looking impeccable for the festival, despite Mother Nature's frequent attempts to derail their work.
It is also notable how many campervans are on the road currently, and these people have always been very supportive of the garden festival.
Stratford is officially a Camper Van Friendly Town and this town status is promoted to members of the New Zealand Motor Caravan Association (NZMCA). It means Stratford meets a broad set of criteria and has the relevant facilities needed by campervan owners.
Often confused with the much maligned freedom campers, the vehicles NZCMA members drive are almost entirely self-contained and therefore members cause minimal environmental issues in comparison.
NZMCA members are generally very responsible people who tend to self-monitor the behaviour of fellow members. There are a lot of them. The membership continues to grow steadily with recent figures showing the membership of around 100,000 people, the equivalent of the population of New Plymouth and Whangarei combined. Except this NZMCA city is a city on the move.
Their impact on communities they visit is economically significant because not only do they do spend money on necessities, but many of them have discretionary dollars burning a hole in their pocket as well.
Statistics show their spend spreads well beyond food and fuel, although clearly over the last few weeks local cafes have been key beneficiaries from the current influx of visitors.
We also know that after enjoying their first visit to a region, many of these people like to come back and spend more time exploring what the region has to offer.
Research shows the three most sought after attractions for this group of people are walking tracks, scenery and cycling trails.
It strikes me the Taranaki region has only began to scratch the surface and needs to develop the potential that exists for tracks and trails, all set against the scenic backdrop of Mt Taranaki. There's a challenge.