As we move into the summer months, I’m certainly looking forward to all the activities taking place in Richland County and around Ohio. Ohio’s new brand: “Ohio. Find it Here,” certainly captures the essence of our state and highlights its’ vast tourism industry. We are truly blessed to live in a state with such a large variety of activities as well as limitless opportunities for adventure—including amusement parks, state parks, rivers, campsites, in addition to the many festivals and live events hosted by big and small cities throughout Ohio.
Locally, Richland County boasts iconic attractions and activities for those of us who live here, as well as for people visiting Ohio. The internationally renowned Shawshank Trail, highlighting the area’s 14 filming sites from the movie The Shawshank Redemption is located here. If you are looking for outdoor activities, we have 88 miles of horse trails and 18.4 miles of walking and biking trails on the B&O Bike Trail. At the end of the day, relax and take in our new Wine & Ale Trail, featuring wineries, wine bars, and breweries many of which operate in renovated historic buildings.
Our area is also home to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, a world class road racing venue. Those who love an exciting afternoon of racing can attend the IndyCar racing series, the NASCAR Xfinity series, and the SCCA National Championship Runoffs. The return of Spitzer Motor Speedway, an oval track north of the city, presents race fans with more racing options, hosts live concerts, and will even hold a competition bull riding event (which will include yours truly)! Other favorites include Malabar Farm State Park, Richland Carrousel Park, Kingwood Center Gardens, BibleWalk, The Little Buckeye Children’s Museum, The Brickyard Concert series and a much-sought-after LEGO exhibit at the Mansfield Art Center called “Art of the Brick”. The live music scene is also exploding in our area with free concerts happening all summer long in our downtowns and parks.
I would also like to extend a heartfelt “THANK YOU” to all of our local ambassadors. Did you know that within Richland County, residents take pride in the attractions we have to offer and frequently tell family and friends? Current research shows “Family & Friends” as one of the biggest influencers for generating visitors. In fact, if you visit one of our area’s great attractions, let others know by using the hashtag #OhioFindItHere on social media.
According to TourismOhio, family and friends were responsible for bringing 200 million visitors to Ohio which translated to nearly $40 billion in sales for our economy. Locally, visitor spending exceeds $284 million, generating $8.5 million in local taxes for services residents enjoy. The bigger the state market becomes, the more potential visitors we can draw into our own local community. As a state, we need to continue to nurture our vital small business community which makes up the vast majority of Tourism/Hospitality businesses.
I’m excited that the summer months are here, and there’s so much to get out and do in our own town, as well as across the great Buckeye state. In addition to Ohio’s tourism website www.ohio.org, Richland County invites you to explore at www.MansfieldTourism.com. You can order or download a FREE visitor guide and see a full calendar of events. Share it with your family and friends! I’m proud to live here … #RichlandRocks.