Train Videos © 2015, Mike Armstrong. Used with permission.
WHAT IS “THE EXCHANGE” AND WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR MCGREGOR?
Have you ever said to yourself, “I wish there were a farmer’s market near me?” Well, that dream will soon be a reality for the city of McGregor. The Exchange is a “work in progress” coming soon to McGregor, featuring a farmer’s market, Event Center, and numerous other amenities offering residents and visitors alike a host of activities in a great central location. Why should you be excited about a farmer’s market? The advantages are numerous, including:
- Residents get guaranteed fresh produce from local farmers, many of whom they know personally. No more “mystery produce”! You can talk face to face with vendors who are accountable to you as the consumer.
- The Farmer’s Market environment offers people a chance to visit and engage in good conversation with neighbors and fellow townspeople about their lives and happenings in our area, the way it was in “the old days.”
- Local price control is a big plus. Since it is local farmers interacting with you as a local consumer, they have the ability to determine pricing, which allows them to price their products at prices the local marketplace determines is fair. This keeps prices reasonable and gives some price control to the local marketplace.
Having our very own farmer’s market and a modern Event Center in downtown McGregor will make our city an attractive gathering place for events of all types, which will have an immeasurable impact on our local economy.
McGregor’s Rich History
The city of McGregor is rich in history, dating back to 1882 when the town was first established at the intersection of Gulf/Colorado/Sante Fe and the Texas/St. Louis railways. In 1884, several residents got together to establish what were considered the first mercantile “exchanges,” so that business could be conducted in a mutually-agreeable manner. In the late 1800’s (during the time of the Industrial Revolution), the town of McGregor experienced a growth boom that made the town temporarily more popular than Waco. Then in the early 1900’s, McGregor became a commercial and shipping focal point for Western McLennan County. Today, in 2015/2016, McGregor may again find itself a focal point of trade and commerce with the planned addition of the Farmer’s Market, Event Center, and accompanying facilities!
What will the McGREGOR EXCHANGE include?
Residents of McGregor have reason to be excited as the vision for a new center of industry becomes reality. The planned facility will feature a 13,500 square foot open-air pavilion, a top-of-the-line Farmer’s Market, a Welcome Center with Gift Shop, a 14,000 square foot Event Center featuring a full ballroom, an indoor and outdoor stage with 2 meeting rooms, and a restaurant with concession capabilities.
The “Polar Express” Experience
Anticipation is also building around the planned addition of historic Pullman Railroad Cars, which will become the annual holiday backdrop for a sensory rich experience reminiscent of the Tom Hanks movie “The Polar Express”, based upon the now-famous children’s book by Chris von Allsburg. Savory cups of cocoa will accompany the assortment of sights, sounds, tastes and smells of railroad magic from yesteryear, as in the movie and the book - an unforgettable delight for all who “truly believe.”
Types of events held at the McGREGOR EXCHANGE
The real question might be: “What types of events will NOT be held there?” The facilities are being planned with the idea that virtually any indoor or outdoor event that can be planned, coordinated, or hosted will be enhanced by McGregor’s new Event Center. The Event Center’s cutting edge facilities will professionally accommodate conventions and meetings, agricultural and industry shows, concerts and art exhibits, charitable events and fundraisers, festivals, carnivals, and city events such as Founder’s Day and other special occasions. The McGregor Exchange will truly showcase your events in style!
Another great feature of the upcoming Exchange and Farmer’s Market will be its “earth-friendliness.” The parking lot design features geo-grid parking that will be able to accommodate 250 vehicles, from cars to fire trucks and everything in between. It will be made of grass instead of asphalt, which will prevent runoff water. It will also double as an event space for those times when people wish to host an outside event using the parking lot space parameters.
The Long-Term Benefits for McGregor
It is obvious that the Event Center, Farmer’s Market, and all of the other planned features will benefit McGregor in the immediate future. But what will it do for the city over the long term? For one thing, it will create jobs for local residents. With so much focus on the new center of industry, many local jobs will be created due to the influx of tourism and increased retail opportunities. Retail owners will upgrade their store fronts and the whole community will benefit from the beautification that will take place as a result. It will make the town more proud of its heritage and history while looking forward to the future. In addition, it will attract more tourist dollars to the area and increase the awareness of McGregor as a viable tourism destination.
Even More Benefits to Our Residents, Businesses and Non-Profit Organizations
Once the complex is built, the long-term benefits to the city of McGregor will extend far beyond just having a local Farmer’s Market. Local charities will be able to use the facilities as a meeting place for fundraisers and events every year at no cost. This will enable the city to help non-profit organizations in raising money and awareness for their causes. It will serve as a business resource for meetings, seminars and conferences. It will become a center of art and agriculture by allowing students, young people, and adults to explore their creative talents across a multitude of interests and industries. And most importantly, it will improve the quality of life through various cultural and community events and give any group or organization with a dream a place to realize their goals and carry out their vision. The McGregor Exchange will stand as a gateway to the future of our community!