GAMBIER — Tourism season in Ohio falls with the leaves in autumn, so to close the Partners In Tourism series, Pat Crow of the Knox County Convention and Visistors Bureau arranged a leaf tour of southeastern Knox County. On Wednesday, community leaders took a bus tour through the picturesque, hilly country of Clay, Jackson, Butler and Harrison townships.
The tour began in Mount Vernon, headed south to Martinsburg, and continued east through Bladensburg and across the Rainbow Bridge. It then headed north to Millwood before heading to Gambier for a program at the Brown Family Environmental Center. Along the way, points of interest such as Serendipity Stables, Butler’s Family Restaurant, Indian Lodge and Honey Run Falls were pointed out in order to familiarize the officials, business executives and community volunteers with numerous county attractions.
“It’s amazing the information you take away from these tours,” said Jonette Curry, county auditor.
Crow started the tours to draw attention to the sights, events and places which draw visitors to the county. Tourism has been identified as one of the region’s strongest growth industries, and, whether it is a cause or effect, the county’s profile is higher now than it used to be.
“I’m from Centerburg and when I used to visit Columbus, people would say, ‘Where?’ because no one had ever heard of that,” Parsisson said.
Today, though, she said she can drop Centerburg or other Knox County locations in conversation in Columbus and most people know exactly where she is talking about.
The tour stopped at the Brown Family Environmental Center at Kenyon for a short hike and a program highlighting the center’s offerings, which are open to the community at large. Heather Doherty, program manager for the BFEC, talked about the history of the nature preserve and environmental study center, which was founded in 1995. It acquired its present name after a bequest was made to the college in 2000 from the Brown Family.
The facility, generally open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and on the weekends for special events, features a nature center and lab, a 380-acre preserve with seven miles of hiking trails, and gardens, including a wildlife garden designed to attract native species of butterflies and bees.
Doherty said the BFEC’s upcoming events include the Fall Harvest Festival this Saturday, featuring pumpkin decorating, horse-drawn wagon rides, live music, nature crafts, a cider press, concessions, a bonfire and the BFEC’s annual community photo contest show. Later this month, the BFEC will host The Mudman Triple, a set of three trail races over two days, including a nighttime time trial, a 5K super steeplechase, and a 10K cross-country run. For more information call the BFEC at 427-5050.