Chesterton Tribune


Tourism board tells 2013 grant recipients; criteria to be reevaluated again

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The Porter County Convention, Recreation and Visitors Commission approved $45,135 in grants that will be dispersed to various festivals and events scheduled for next year.

Since 2010, the criteria in place allow for festivals and events to apply for up to three years total with the maximum amount diminishing with each passing year. First time applicants can see an endowment of up to $3,000, second-year applicants can see up $2,500 and $1,500 for third and final year applicants.

Grants are given on a weighted scale based on the potential number of out-of-town visitors the applicant can draw into the county, how long those visitors will stay and the overall quality of the event, said PCCRVC Executive Director Lorelei Weimer. The grants’ purpose is to help recipients market their events, she said.

This would be the last year many long-existing festivals like the Chesterton Wizard of Oz Festival, the Chesterton Art Fair, and the Valparaiso University Jazz Festival can apply for the grants, but there may be some good news for these events that have reliably attracted visitors to Porter County. The PCCRVC board along with Weimer and her staff talked about retooling the criteria next year so that these attractions could still get a little benefit.

Weimer said the philosophy has been to encourage new festivals to sprout and to encourage more established festivals to become less reliant on grant funds. “They need to sustain themselves on their own,” she said. The practice, she added, is similar to how other local tourism bureaus operate.

But PCCRVC President Mitch Peters said those who have been around for a while have been important to the community and its financial well being.

A reevaluation of the policy will be up to next year’s PCCRVC committee for the 2014 grants, Weimer said. It will be formed after January when the County Commissioners, the City of Portage, and the towns of Westchester Twp. name their new or renewed PCCRVC appointments.

PCCRVC member Richard Riley, who was a grant committee member this year, inquired if the amount of funding could be increased. Weimer said the pool for the grant money had not been increased in the 2013 budget. Currently the fund is allotted $50,000 per year.

The PCCRVC holds on to any part of the grant money that is not used entirely by the recipient.

Following is a list of the 2013 grant recipients and the amounts they will receive: AAU Track & Field ($900); ARTour ($450); 53rd Annual Chesterton Art Fair ($1,350); Fall Harvest Festival & Antique Equipment Show ($675); 8th Annual Gardening Show ($1,350); Institute of Liturgical Studies ($1,350); Kouts Christmas Open House ($1,260); 25th Annual VU Jazz Fest ($1,350); Bark in the Park ($900); Taste of Duneland ($900); Aukiki River Festival ($1,350); Chesterton Wizard of Oz Festival ($1,350); Treasure of the Past ($675); Chesterton Chamber Fireworks ($675); Northern Amateur Golf ($900); Earth Day ($900); Chesterton Speech and Debate ($450); Hebron Block Party/Winter Fest ($1,800); Orville Statue ($2,250); Portage Township Summerfest ($2,250); Youth Soccer Clinic ($1,350); Shakespeare in the Park ($1,800); Chesterton/Duneland Chamber of Commerce European Market ($1,800); Winter Snow Show ($900); Banquet and Facility Promotion ($1,800); Jens Jensen ($2,700); Family Cancer Awareness Day ($900); Lorie’s Ride-VNA ($1,350); LBAA ($2,700); Elvis Fantasy Fest ($2,700); Hooked on Art Festival ($1,350); Elite Baseball Tournaments ($2.700).

2013 Grant Committee members included Riley, Treasurer Judy Chaplin, Scott Tuft and Pat Jackson.

Culinary Tour delectable

In other business Tuesday, Weimer walked the board through an online tour of the new Indiana Dunes Country Culinary Tour. The tour consists of ten restaurants chosen by Midwest Living magazine as the best in Porter County.

The magazine published the article last week and it is available for viewing and printing on which also includes a video showcasing each restaurant and its mouthwatering offerings. Weimer said the magazine did its own scouting and came up with the list independently.

Making the top 10 places to dine out include Duneland eateries Popolano’s and Lucrezia both in Chesterton, Wagner’s Ribs in Porter, and Bartlett’s Gourmet Grill and Tavern in Beverly Shores. Mentioned in Valparaiso are The Dish, Valley Kitchen and Bar, Restaurante Don Quijote, Bistro 157, Meditrina Market Café, and Strongbow Inn.

Although not among the top 10, Midwest Living had seven more places it felt deserved attention.

Duneland scored most of the seven honorable mentions. They include Octave Grill, Sage, Tonya’s Patisserie and Third Coast Spice Café, all in Chesterton. Fuji Japanese Restaurant in Portage was also named as one of the “7 Places Not to Miss” as well as Blackbird Café and Industrial Revolution in Valparaiso.

Weimer said promoting restaurants is something PCCRVC needs to do more of, since 36 cents of each dollar out-of-towners spend is on food.

“(Visitors) are not looking for chain restaurants they can find in their own backyard,” said Weimer.

PCCRVC Promotions Director Ken Kosky said 40 articles have been printed over the last two months about attractions in the county.

Also on Tuesday:

• Weimer said the year-to-date number of visitors to the Indiana Dunes Visitor Center is 72,973, which has surpassed last year’s total of about 69,000.

• The PCCRVC’s Emergency Preparedness Seminar held last month at the visitor center made a positive impression on the business owners and hoteliers who attended. The staff plans to host more seminars in the future.

• Board attorney Dave Hollenbeck said he will meet with County Treasurer Mike Bucko in a few days about implementing a more efficient strategy to monitor and collect innkeeper’s tax payments after several months of attempting to collect a payment from an uncooperative hotel business.



Posted 11/14/2012