The Gordon County Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) hosted a Regional Visitors Information Centers (RVIC) Meeting in Calhoun recently. The event was coordinated by CVB Director Sarah Ostuw and Ontaria Finch, manager of the Georgia Visitor Information Center in Ringgold, one of Georgia’s 11 state visitor information centers. It was attended by 13 representatives of “Sister Centers” from the Historic High County Region of Northwest Georgia.

Attendees included Christy Collier, tourism director, City of McDonough; Sharon Dupont, tourism manager, Villa Rica CVB; Kat Fox, Dade County Chamber of Commerce; Kaitlyn Gaston, Murray County Chamber and Welcome Center; Karly Helton, information specialist, Georgia Visitor Information Center – Ringgold; Debbie Law, Welcome Center assistant manager, Georgia’s Rome Office of Tourism; Charlene Mathis, Welcome Center manager, Georgia’s Rome Office of Tourism; Melinda Morrow, manager, Georgia Visitor Information Center – Tallapoosa; Wesleigh Reaves, Welcome Center manager, Marietta CVB; Joe Sewell, information specialist, Gilmer County Chamber and Welcome Center; Dusty Smith, information specialist, Georgia Visitor Information Center – Ringgold; and Cheryl Smith, Visitor Services coordinator, Coweta County CVB.

Kathy Johnson, Ppresident and CEO of the Gordon County Chamber of Commerce, opened the meeting as 13 hospitality professionals convened at the GEM Theatre for the opening session.

“Welcome to the top of Georgia! We’re a one-stop shop here in Calhoun-Gordon County, since our chamber building also houses the Development Authority and Convention and Visitors Bureau,” she said. “Sarah Ostuw has gone above and beyond the call of duty to organize a successful event today. We think you will learn a great deal about all Calhoun-Gordon County has to offer visitors.”

The four-hour event included a series of presentations as well as tours of the GEM Theatre and Harris Arts Center, a farm-to-table luncheon catered by Bowman’s Restaurant, and complimentary passes for Copper Creek Farm. The first session took place at the GEM Theatre, where Dakota Grogan followed Johnson with remarks about his family’s Copper Creek Farm enterprise. Grogan shared the history of Copper Creek Farm’s beginning and Gordon County CVB’s involvement in its early marketing, especially with billboards. Ostuw followed Grogan with general comments about tourism and the dramatic impact that agritourism has on the region.

Kim Brazell, manager of the GEM Theatre, made a presentation to the group about the theatre’s history in Gordon County and then talked about upcoming shows. Theatre data shows that half of the GEM’s revenue is generated from visitors outside Gordon County, with many of those guests staying in local hotels after shows. Following Brazell’s presentation, Downtown Development Director Suzanne Roberts spoke about current projects including Freight & Rail Brewery Co. and construction on Piedmont. She also discussed past partnership projects with CVB including the purchase of gateway signs and the BBQ, Boogie & Blues Festival. Held at the end of April each year, the BBQ Festival draws more than ten thousand visitors and eight of eleven City Departments are involved in its presentation.

As the GEM Theatre session closed, the group moved to the Harris Arts Center, where Ostuw offered information about the annual Lighting of the Rock Garden event at The Seventh-day Adventist Church of Calhoun. Jennifer Dudley, Executive Director of the Harris Arts Center, then made a presentation about the umbrella organization that operates five programs from the facility: Roland Hayes Museum, Community Chorus, Visual Arts Guild, Music Guild and Calhoun Little Theatre. Katherine Bowman, owner of Bowman’s Restaurant in Resaca, made brief remarks to the group about the family-operated business, mentioning that they served a farm-to-table menu before it trended in the restaurant industry.

The group of hospitality professionals meets several times a year in different locations within the Historic High Country region, which includes fifty-five cities. It is often called the Land of Sights and Legends. Learn more about the region at www.georgiahighcountry.org. For more information about events in Gordon County, visit www.exploregordoncounty.com.

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