It may still be windy and rainy, but Franklin County Convention, Recreation and Visitors Commission executive director Mikel Beck is always thinking about ways to draw tourists to festivals and shows here.

She tried a new tactic in 2018. "We worked with Local 12 (TV) to produce and air commercials that would attract visitors to our area. They produced four 30-second commercials and five 15-second commercials. They also produced a three-minute video for our organization to use at travel shows and other events we attend. We have ownership of the raw video that was produced and would eventually like to make another video to stream in our office for visitors to view. This year we are working with Local 12 again and have just been named one of the destinations for their Travel Guide Show that is being produced in April to air in May."

Another fresh promotion: "We were able to give five local restaurants a membership to the Indiana Foodways Alliance (http://www.indianafoodways.com). Indiana Foodways Alliance committee members inspected the restaurants, interviewed owners and enjoyed taste tests. "Once approved, they were able to obtain a spot on an Indiana Foodways Trail."

The five Franklin County eateries and their trails: Korners Kountry Kitchen, Brookville, BBQ, Burgers and Dogs, Hoosier Pie and Rise n' Shine trails; The Farmhouse, Metamora, Burgers and Dogs, Farm to Table and Rise n' Shine trails; Jillsophine's Donuts and Coffee, Metamora, Rise n' Shine and Sweet Temptations trails; Brau Haus, Oldenburg, Savor the Flavor, Tenderloin Lovers and Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner trails; and The Martindale House, Metamora, Savor the Flavor and Soda-licious trails.

"In 2019 we are honored that number will be 10 local restaurants."

Nonprofits submitted grant applications and made required presentations to the board about the use of the money Feb. 18, then five grants totalling $13,200 were awarded March 18, according to Beck:

• $6,700 to Historic Metamora for several events throughout the year: Metamora Mandolin Gathering, March 30; Metamora Performing Arts Opry Barn Bluegrass Nights, April 13, May 18, June 15, July 20, Aug. 17, Sept. 21, Oct. 19 and Nov. 16; Metamora Strawberry Days, June 1-2; Metamora Music Festival, Aug. 31-Sept. 1; Metamora Canal Days, Oct. 4-6; Haunted Village of Metamora, Oct. 11-12, 18-19 and 25-26; Old-Fashioned Christmas Walk, Nov. 29-Dec. 1, Dec. 6-8, 13-15 and 20-22; Acoustic Final Fridays and Grist Mill Jams on each month's first Sunday

• $925 to Franklin County Quilt Batts for Franklin County Quilt Show, May 17-18, Franklin County Government Center, Brookville

• $1,225 to Brookville CanoeFest, June 29, Franklin County fairgrounds, Brookville

• $925 to Franklin County Antique Machinery Show, Sept. 26-29, Franklin County fairgrounds

• $3,425 to Holiday Under the Spires, Dec. 7, Oldenburg

Beck noted leaders of two other county events did not apply for grants: Freudenfest, Oldenburg, July 19-20; and first annual Honoring our Veterans, Oct. 12-13, Wolf Creek Habitat, Brookville.

The commission began 2018 with a $266,821 cash balance, added $240,424 thanks to the 5 percent innkeepers tax and spent $249,689 during the year, leaving a $257,556 year-end balance, according to the 2018 Franklin County financial report that can be found at the Indiana Gateway for Government Units website https://gateway.ifionline.org.

She explained part of the balance will be used for 2019 expenses and the rest for 2020 bills. "Money that is being collected right now from our innkeepers will not be used until 2021."

The FCCRVC decision makers are President Tim Ziemke, Batesville, restaurant owner; Vice President Gay Worth, Laurel, innkeeper; Treasurer Willie Jo Ball and Secretary Catrina Campbell, Metamora, innkeepers. One more member will be appointed soon.

In addition to spending funds on event grants, Beck reports that last year "we helped 32 businesses be able to afford to go into the Indiana Travel Guide, which also placed them on visitindiana.com. We paid in full to have 12 festivals and events placed in the Indiana Festival Guide, not a standard membership, but a highlighted membership, so they would stand out. This not only placed each event in the month of the book their events took place, but also placed their events on the website." Leaders of each event are members of the Indiana Festival Association and they are able to attend free meetings and educational programming offered by this organization throughout the year.

The commission has paid for advertising or promotions in other guides, magazines and websites: Travel Indiana magazine, Indiana Visitors Guide along with the website, Backyard Excursions Guide, VisitIndiana.com website, Metamora Guide, Hoosier Happenings, Long Weekends, Made by Hoosier Hands Facebook and website, Fly Fishing magazine, Midwest Living magazine, TravelIN, The BLT: The Blog for Lifestyle and Travel, AAA Living Best of the Midwest, AAA Living Home and Away, Indianapolis Monthly magazine, Cincinnati Magazine, My Indiana Home Magazine, Louisville Magazine, Southern Living magazine and Cincinnati Visitors Guide.

In an effort to make the county more visible, "we attend the Indianapolis Boat and Travel Show. We helped out in the Indiana state tourism booth and the Gad-a-Bout booth the last couple of years."

Beck adds, "I'm proud to say we are working with local organizations and try to meet once a month to talk about what is going on in our communities and organizations." She interfaces with the Franklin County Community Foundation, Franklin County Chamber of Commerce, United Way of Franklin County, FC CAN (Franklin County Cancer Assistance Now), Batesville Area Chamber of Commerce, Main Street Brookville, Purdue Extension Franklin County office, city of Batesville, An Orchestrated Journey and New Horizons Rehabilitation.

Another improvement: "We are in the process of updating our website with a new design and are using ETC (Enhanced Telecommunications Corp.)."

The executive director saved the best news for last: So far this year, “we have already scheduled over 25 tour buses to the county, in which we provide itineraries and schedule lunches and dinners. This is just a small amount of things we do for our community and county."

Debbie Blank can be contacted at debbie.blank@batesvilleheraldtribune.com or 812-934-4343, Ext. 113.

To learn more about county events

• The Franklin County Indiana Welcome Center's summer hours starting in May are Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.; and Saturday, 8 a.m.-noon. "To make sure our doors are always open for our tourists," Kim Vonder Meulen is Beck's part-time assistant. The office can be reached at 765-647-6522 or toll free at 866-647-6555.

• Both the website https://FranklinCountyIN.com and Facebook page (Franklin County Indiana Welcome Center) are "excellent ways to find out what is going on in Franklin County," she points out. "On our website, we have a Community Events Calendar, but Facebook is a quick and easy way to find out what is going on during the week."

• "Everyone is encouraged to attend our monthly meetings," which are on third Mondays at 7 p.m. at 18 W. 10th St., Brookville.

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