Visitors Bureau: County ripe for tourism


Promoting tourism in a predominantly agricultural setting could be considered a daunting task. But Fulton County’s newly-appointed Visitors Bureau coordinator says the number of local gems available might surprise people.

Julie Brink said her mission is to package those relatively unknown attractions with the county’s prominent features and educate potential tourists living both within and outside local communities. She said enough is happening locally to satisfy residents and draw travelers off of surrounding byways.

“There’s a lot here. We have to open our eyes to it,” Brink said. “Hopefully, that will all benefit the economy of Fulton County.”

From her office at the new Fulton County Shared Services and Welcome Center Complex being completed on State Route 108 in Dover Township, Brink will oversee the marketing and promotion of the county’s entertainment and shopping venues. That will include searching out new venues, eventually collaborating to create tourist activities and events, and speaking to groups both inside and outside the county.

“There’s never been a person to go out and advocate and speak,” she said.

And while main attractions such as Sauder Village and the Fulton County Fairgrounds often sell themselves, she also wants to enlighten on lesser-known jewels and events that even county residents don’t consider.

“There are people on the east side of Fulton County who don’t know what’s going on in the west side of Fulton County, and vice versa,” Brink said. “We want to pull all this stuff together. It’s a matter of educating and making people aware of what’s available.”

Often, the first impression is that the county has little to offer, she said. “But if you really start investigating, there are things here. A lot of us, including me, have tunnel vision. People that are coming in at the campgrounds, at the hotels and motels, there are things in the area for them to do that we want them to know about.”

She noted, as examples, local wineries, Ramblin’ Red’s Brewing Company in Wauseon, WB Ranch in Swanton, Oakshade Raceway, unique county retail outlets such as the Sauder Furniture Store and Outlet, Passion 4 Fashion, and Al-Meda Chocolates, and the county’s many restaurants.

“People think they have to go to the big city. We’ve got great restaurants here. We don’t have to go to Toledo for a good meal,” she added.

Brink said she’d also like to help the county capitalize on a current trend among businesses to enhance their patrons’ experience with entertainment.

Some county events are “tried and true” and occur annually, but because they’re not heavily marketed potential tourists don’t know they exist, she said. Her job will include promoting those events with both traditional and creative packages that will bring in people, locally and from far and wide.

“We know people get off the turnpike, so we have to make them aware of what we have to offer so, even if they can’t stay at that moment, they come back,” she said. “Time will tell. We will have to see what evolves from all this.”

An Archbold resident, Brink served as the former director of the village’s Chamber of Commerce and as the “Picnic in the Park” coordinator for the village’s 2016 sesquicentennial celebration. She has volunteered as a chairperson or member for organizations such as the American Red Cross disaster team, the American Heart Association, and Positive Health Directions.

The county’s Visitors Bureau was established Sept. 25, 2014, and is funded through a three percent bed tax issued on lodging facilities. According to County Administrator Vond Hall, the bureau’s annual budget is approximately $100,000.

“Our board is excited to welcome Julie and believes that she is a great fit for the Visitors Bureau coordinator position,” said Jeanette Smith, president of the FCVB board. “Julie’s experience with the tourism industry through her work at Archbold Area Chamber of Commerce, as well as her volunteer experience throughout the region, will be an asset to Fulton County tourism.”

Brink said she is still familiarizing herself with her new position, but expects to establish Fulton County as a solid tourist destination.

“We do have things to do and places to go,” she said.

572-6231

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Julie Brink
http://www.fcnews.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/45/2017/08/web1_Brink-.jpgJulie Brink

By David J. Coehrs

dcoehrs@fcnews.org

Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.