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
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
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.
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 www.indianadunes.com/culinary-tour/ 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
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
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
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
• 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.