MOUNT VERNON — One of the critical components of building a region’s strength as a site for tourism is to get everyone on the same page and aware of the area’s offerings. To that end, the Knox County Convention and Visitors Bureau has been spearheading a series of events inviting Knox County movers and shakers to gather at various destinations throughout the region in order to experience firsthand the county’s attractions.
“This makes it real for our partners,” said KCCVB director Pat Crow.
Once the public figures and owners of businesses and tourism attractions know what’s available, he explained, they have more knowledge to pass along to visitors to the community.
The April kickoff for this year’s Knox Partners-in-Tourism events was held at the B&O Railroad Depot at 571 W. High St., which is rolling into its second summer since renovation. Phil Samuell, president of the restoration board, was on hand to introduce the large turnout to the restored building.
“It’s been years since people traveled through this waiting room,” Samuell said, referring to the 101-year-old building’s past. “But events like this are perfect, they bring it alive again.”
Events Chairwoman Sarah Pillow spoke on behalf of the Knox County Art League, the building tenant that handles rentals of the space. The league also uses it as a base for its own events. Pillow drew attention to monthly First Friday events held at the depot, as well as special events held at other times of the year, including community art shows.
Executive chef Dave Atkinson of The Alcove Restaurant was on hand to cater the event. He spoke of The Alcove’s long history in the community, and said the restaurant tries hard to be versatile and accommodating to local residents, organizations, tourists and even group tour buses.
“We plan to be here for another 100 years,” Atkinson said.
Kimberly Eades, who just became a board member of Mount Vernon Nazarene University this year, was attending her first partners in tourism event. She said she thought it was an excellent way to learn about the community. Janis Stone of MTVArts agreed, adding that it was important to get all the people involved going in the same direction and working together.
Cindy Hallett said she was going to volunteer her business, Locust Grove Ranch, where she raises Arabian horses, as a future site for a Partners in Tourism event, because she realized in talking with other people who attended how many of them had no idea where her farm was located. Hallett said she definitely saw the value of networking at these events.
Sadie Hunter, director of People First of Ohio and board member of MTVArts who was also attending her first Partners-in-Tourism event, said it would be a good way for her to make the rounds to encourage those operating attractions to make their events accessible to everyone.
Crow said that future Partners-in-Tourism events would take place throughout and around Knox County all summer, culminating in a fall leaf foliage tour in October.