Sandusky County Blogs
Sandusky County's Shining Stars
Publication Date : 03/27/2019 20:27:59
Author : Mandy Burris
On March 19, 2019 I was able to attend the Sandusky County Convention and Visitors Bureau’s “Shining Stars in Tourism Banquet”, which took place at the Neeley Center at Terra State Community College. It was a great night full of education, fun, and of course food. The banquet was invented to allow those who go above and beyond for tourism in our community to receive recognition. Not only was there an awards ceremony, but there was also a magic show, and an educational talk about where our county stands in tourism. I encourage you to keep an eye our community this year, and see if you notice any “Shining Stars”, and come to this event next year yourself!
If I were to ask you how big of a business tourism is for Sandusky County, what would say? Most people in our community don’t even realize that we have tourists that come through, let alone how much it impacts our local economy! Would you be surprised to learn, that Sandusky County out of the 88 counties in Ohio ranked fourth in its growth in tourism? It’s true, and I see no plans to slow down that growth either!
Businesses and individuals alike are affected by tourism in our county. Tourism in Sandusky County alone provides $167.5 MILLION dollars in sales. Tourism also supports 1 in every 13 jobs, in Sandusky County! These dollars come in mostly through transportation, recreation, retail, lodging, food and beverage sales. Our local economy isn’t only measured by buildings, industries and jobs though. Our economic development depends on lots of different components, like tourism, culinary and retail. These things spur on greater development opportunities, and bring people into and through our community.
One thing that brings people into our community is bus tours, and again, most people in our community don’t even realize that we have buses that bring tourists through! We welcome approximately 60 bus tours a year that travel to our county. We have several tour opportunities for them to choose from when they plan their visit. This year we are offering them: A Presentation by Dr. Harold Brown, who is a Tuskegee Airman from WWII, “Group Tour University” at Terra State Community College (here guests are immersed in several different class experiences geared specifically to a tour atmosphere), and Dinner Theater – choices are Murder Mystery or Magic Show.
We also offer some unique individual experiences that bring tourists to Sandusky County as well. We offer a Historic Barn Mural Trail (a map with directions is available in our 2019 Visitors Guide), which is made of 5 unique and historic barn paintings. The Spring Run on the Sandusky River brings fishermen from all walks of life to Sandusky County, as well. For some tourists it’s a family tradition, grandfathers, sons and grandsons all travel here because their parents/grandparents brought them here to fish as kids! Even our festivals like the Annual Fishing and Outdoor Festival, Farmer’s Markets, Fourth of July Festivals, and our County Fair bring tourists into our county.
Next year will be a BIG one for Sandusky County. We are turning 200 years old! The 2020 Bicentennial Committee is planning a year of events that will be for the books. There will be family fun for every season that young and old will enjoy. Keep watch on social media and the bicentennial website (www.bicentennial2020.org) for an updated calendar of events, and for sponsorship and volunteer opportunities.
The food for the evening received rave reviews from the guests and was catered by Anjulina’s Catering. During the meal, magician and entertainer Andrew Martin mingled with the attendees, mesmerizing them with fun little tricks, and conversation.
Andrew is the same entertainment that they bring in for the dinner theater magic show bus tours. After the educational presentation we were able to experience a short show. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the people’s faces, as they were ahhed by Andrew’s tricks. I saw a room full of big kids, sitting in rapt attention, as Andrew performed some old favorites with a new twist. Andrew is funny, and his tricks were executed perfectly and left you wondering how he did it.
The show had lots of audience participation, which is always great to experience, and to me, takes a show to the next level. Our own Mayor of Fremont, Danny Sanchez (“Dan Dan the Party Man”) was an audience volunteer, much to the delight and amusement of everyone in attendance.
Andrew Martin received a standing ovation at the end of the show. I can say from my experience that Andrew Martin’s Magic Show was classic, incredible and greatly enjoyable!
To end the evening, the Visitors Bureau recognized nominees from three different categories with certificates and/or awards. Two of the three categories were open to the public for nominations, while the Shining Star Committee chose one category themselves.
The categories were:
1. Tourism Partner of the Year – which recognizes a group/organization/tourist industry company for its outstanding contribution(s) to the development of tourism through attraction of visitors
2. Tourism Ambassador of the Year – which recognizes an individual or individuals who have made a significant contribution to his or her company/business, the tourism industry and the support of Sandusky County. This is for a person or persons in a middle/upper management position.
3. Frontline Associate of the Year – which recognizes an individual who has made a significant contribution to the tourism industry and the support of Sandusky County. This is a non-management person who works a frontline position such as a waiter, hotel front desk clerk, store clerk, etc.
The Tourism Partner of the Year was chosen solely by the Shining Stars Committee. The business was a unanimous choice in the committee from day one! They chose to award Chateau Tebeau Winery (Bob and Mary Tebeau) to receive partner of the year. Bob and Mary truly go above and beyond to accommodate tourists at their establishment. They also do an outstanding job of keeping their establishment warm, friendly, and they always have new ideas that bring people through their doors. Please visit their website for more information on their wine, their menu, and their calendar of events, www.chateautebeauwinery.com.
The Tourism Ambassador of the Year received nominations from people in our community. The nominees were:
· John Zimmerman – Ole Zim’s Wagon Shed
· Nick Lapolla – Moonshine Entertainment
· Jason Hawkins – Comfort Inn & Suites
· John Havens – Color Haven Paint & Supply
· Julie Kupka-Brown – Anjulina’s Catering & Banquet Hall
· Bob & Beth Turner – Haunted Hydro/Turner Enterprises
· Marissa Mills – Our Lady of the Pines Retreat Center
The committee had a hard time narrowing the list down to one single winner, so they chose to award TWO awards!
The first award went to Bob & Beth Turner of The Haunted Hydro Dark Attraction Park (www.thehauntedhydro.com) and Turner Enterprises. The Turner’s have brought several different businesses to Sandusky County through the years, foremost being the Haunted Hydro. The Turners have always reached beyond the norm to create unique experiences for those that come to/through Sandusky County.
The second award went to John Havens of Color Haven Paint & Supply (www.colorhaven.net). John’s love for history, volunteering, and his community is evident to everyone he meets, and his hometown mindset is clear in every event he helps with or creates. He currently chairs the 2020 Bicentennial Committee, and is helping the group to plan events celebrating Sandusky County’s 200th birthday, which is taking place next year.
The Frontline Associate of the Year also received nominations from people in our community. The nominees were:
· Rafael Garnica – El Rancho 2
· Brissa Rodriguez – The Garrison
· Victoria Pan – Van Ness’s Time Out Sports Bar and The Garrison
· Kim Shank – Chateau Tebeau Winery
The winner of this award was Rafael Garnica. His outstanding service and friendliness are what earned him this award. He treats every customer that walks through the doors of his restaurant as a friend, and is known throughout the community for making the “best top shelf margaritas in the world”.
The Visitors Bureau was excited to award these individuals and businesses with the title of Shining Stars. Thank you to everyone who nominated these individuals and businesses and thank you to every nominee for all that you do to make each tourist’s experience the best you can. Sandusky County wouldn’t have the success we do without each one of you!
Remember, keep an eye on social media, and on the Visitors Bureau website for upcoming events, and opportunities to recognize those who go above and beyond. www.sanduskycounty.org