ROANOKE BUZZ: Making Stone Soup on the Roanoke

Published 12:28 pm Friday, March 16, 2018

Coming out of our best year yet, we can’t help but think about all the partners that had a hand in that. It is the collaboration and support of local partners that make this enterprise— attracting visitors that bring waves of economic benefits to our region—possible.

Are you familiar with the story about Stone Soup? I first heard it as a child. Captain Kangaroo read it to his young audience back in the early sixties. I have heard it several times since. It’s one of those stories that has many applications. It provides a good analogy for the work that we do here along the Roanoke.

Can’t tell the full version here but I will share a brief overview. In this story, a hungry boy without food, or means to acquire any, sparks the interest of a whole community with his claims about making a fine soup from a stone. He begins with a pot of boiling water to which he adds his stone.

At first, none of the town’s people have anything to spare. But as they become interested, many of them find something to contribute … some bring vegetables, some scraps of meat and some seasonings. In the end, by all reaching down deep and contributing what they can spare— they create a delicious soup. The boy was fed. The community was fed. By pulling together, they created something that benefited them all.

The work that Roanoke River Partners have been doing for the past twenty years is very much like making stone soup. Together all the partners from the five counties along the Roanoke have chipped in to make “soup” – that “feeds” and benefits our communities.

Current projections based on a Kenan Institute study demonstrate that our partnerships delivered over $600,000 back to our region in 2017. Much of this impact came from the spending of the campers we attracted to the region.

Our campers reported spending for food, gas, ice, and other camping supplies as well as for meals in local restaurants (before and after getting on the river). Buying local products to take home and discovering other reasons to come back were also reported.

Now is the time of the year when our counties and towns are busy deciding where they will invest their revenues for the coming year. There are many difficult decisions to be made. Often there are not enough funds to go around.

As we all plan our budgets for a new year, we want to assure town and county partners that there is a significant return to our region for the investment they make in our regional partnership.

In 2017, over 1400 visitors from all across the United States made reservations to camp on the platforms on our river. Additional visitors came to be on the river and stayed in our B&Bs, campgrounds and motels. Thousands more came to paddle, fish and bird watch for the day. Each brought with them revenues that positively impacted our small towns. These are the folks that deliver much of the $600,000 impact highlighted by our recent study.

Let’s keep them coming! Let’s work together and grow the regional support that allows our partnerships to attract these critical revenues to our small towns and communities. Let’s keep making soup!!!

Carol Jones Shields is the Executive Director of Roanoke River Partners, Inc. You can contact her at (252) 798-3920 or You can learn more about Roanoke River Partners at