- Pre-pandemic tourism was a $ 58 million industry for Coshocton County connecting to $ 14.5 million in wages and 750 jobs.
- Tourism dollars was down 20% in 2020 because of the pandemic, but was then up 34% in 2021.
- Hidden gems of tourism in the county includes geocaching, hunting and sports tournaments.
- Highlights of the summer include the hot air balloon festival, Indian Mud Run and sunflower festival.
COSHOCTON – The drop in local tourism from the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 wasn’t as great as originally predicted and the bounce back in 2021 was larger than estimated. It’s hoped 2022 will be even stronger and the future of tourism in Coshocton County is bright according to Coshocton Visitors Bureau Executive Director Mindy Brems.
New figures are due out in June, but prior to the pandemic tourism brought in more than $ 58 million to the county related to attractions, food and beverage, gas and lodging. That connects to $ 14.5 million in wages and more than 750 jobs, per Tourism Economics.
“People are surprised when they hear the total amount of sales is $ 58 million. They ask how is that even possible,” Brems said. “When you have successful tourism businesses, then you have successful businesses that support those successful tourism businesses.”
Brems said tourism dollars were down about 20% in 2020 over 2019, but she was predicting about a 40% drop when the pandemic started. Figures were up 34% for 2021 over 2020, which was greater than Brems believed.
“We were very conservative in making our estimates for our budget, because we didn’t really know with all the variants and everything, how people would respond,” Brems said. “I think what we saw was that people felt because we are a rural community, because predominantly Roscoe Village is outside, I think people perceive us as a safe place to visit.”
What attracts visitors?
For last year, 19,566 people visited the CVB Office in Roscoe Village representing 48 of 50 states and 87 of Ohio’s 88 counties. Of course, more people visit Coshocton than who stopped by the office, but it’s a good indicator of how wide ranging Coshocton’s tourism reach is.
Brems credits this to many reasons, including travelers’ sensibilities coming out of the pandemic. She said Coshocton is the center of a triangle of three large municipalities in Columbus, Cleveland and Pittsburgh. Coshocton makes a good place to stop on your way to somewhere or to meet someone in the middle.
This also makes Coshocton a convenient day trip with many attractions that are outside and spread out from each other, such as Roscoe Village and many wineries. During the pandemic, this was enticing to many who still wanted to getaway.
However, getting people to spend the night is a bigger boost. Brems said a day visitor spends around $ 125, but an overnight guest spends around $ 375. The key to that is offering more elements to keep people in Coshocton.
She’s seeing that coming about as Downtown Coshocton is on the upswing with new shops and restaurants and Roscoe Village, the county’s most well-known attraction, is networking more with downtown thanks to events staged by Our Town Coshocton and institution of a new Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area.
The first event for the DORA, which allows people to have alcoholic beverages outside, was a pub crawl on St. Patrick’s Day that brought out more than 1,000 people. OTC is working with Councilman Chad Johnson on a summer concert series that should also benefit from the DORA. The first show will be the Foreigner tribute band Double Vision on June 25.
“We’re hopeful the restaurant and bar owners in Coshocton and Roscoe Village will create like a Thirsty Thursday or other events with drinks and food specials. Maybe they’ll expand their seating on the sidewalk or maybe somebody will have a musician outside. It’s really going to benefit those business owners, “Brems said. “We want to continue to create fun events, but we don’t have to. DORA will just help it happen organically.”
Brems said Roscoe Village is the most well known brand of Coshocton County and, therefore, a huge asset for tourism. However, there are many events or outlets for tourism most don’t think about.
“The perception is that Roscoe Village brings in all the tourists is great, but it’s not all the tourists. It brings in a lot,” Brems said.
A big driver of tourism in winter months, Brems said, are indoor sports tournaments held by Kids America. They also hold outdoor baseball and softball tournaments during the summer months at fields at its facility off of Otsego Avenue and at Lake Park. This brings in many families who normally wouldn’t come to Coshocton, Brems said.
She also cited a recent bowling tournament at Legacy Lanes and Lounge that brought in about 1,200 female bowlers over eight weekends.
“It’s positive for us as a community, because you have people playing in tournaments and maybe they have a few hours between the first game and second game, so they’re shopping in Roscoe Village, getting a bite to eat, taking the younger kids to do crafts at the Hay Building. They’re finding other stuff to do, “Brems said.
One of those extras that Brems said is popular is geocaching. People use Global Positioning Systems (GPS) and other navigational techniques to hide and seek containers with items inside.
The CVB has sponsored two trails in the past, in 2014 and 2018, and a new one is launching May 13 and 14. The Coshocton Ring Trail is based on “The Silmarillion” by JRR Tolkein and there is a Lord of the Rings theme to the clues. There will be 40 caches scattered around the county.
“There are a lot of people who are very passionate about this,” Brems said. “These caches will be very family friendly and relatively simple to find.”
Another pocket of people some don’t think of as tourists is hunters. Coshocton is usually at the top of deer kills during gun season and is known for other hunting, like wild turkeys. Woodbury Wildlife Area is nearly 20,000 acres and one of the largest public hunting and fishing areas in Ohio.
“Hunting makes a big impact, but it’s one of those things we don’t really see. You may see someone all muddy, wearing camo in the grocery store and say, ‘oh, that guy’s been hunting,’ but they’re out staying in our Airbnbs, in our hotels, eating at our restaurants, buy gas, “Brems said. “They’re not the typical tourist, but they have a big impact.”
Leonard Hayhurst is a community content coordinator and general news reporter for the Coshocton Tribune with close to 15 years of local journalism experience and multiple awards from the Ohio Associated Press. He can be reached at 740-295-3417 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @llhayhurst.
• “Gray Gardens” musical by the Coshocton Footlight Players at 7:30 pm May 6, 7, 13, 14, 25 and 26 and 2:30 pm May 15 at the Triple Locks Theater. It’s based on a documentary about two relatives of Jackie Kennedy Onassis traveling from affluence to insanity.
• Coshocton Farmers Market from 8:30 am to noon Saturdays from May 7 to Oct. 22 on the Coshocton Court Square. Local produce, meat, artisan crafts and more for sale.
• Second annual 0.5 K for United Way from 10:30 am to 1 pm May 14 at the United Way of Coshocton County Office on Main Street. Costumes are encouraged. There will be free race swag, prizes and a picnic lunch. There will be fines for overachievers and a 50/50 drawing. Registration is $ 25 before May 12 and $ 35 after.
• Sasquatch Triangle Conference from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm May 15 at Lake Park. Speakers include Todd Neiss, Eric Altman, Steve Kulls, Mike Feltner and Mike Miller. Emphasis is on boota on the ground investigation and data collection.
• The Pomerene Center for the Art is holding performances of a puppet show of “The Wizard Of Oz” by Martian Stevens and Dan Raynor at 7:30 pm June 8 and 15 at the artPARK with puppet workshops during the day for families.
• Coshocton Hot Air Balloon Festival June 9 to 11 at the Coshocton County Fairgrounds with kiddie rides, food vendors, live entertainment, craft booths, children’s activities, fireworks and more. Hot air balloons will launch and compete in races, depending on weather.
• Indian Mud Run adult obstacle course June 25 at Lake Park. Competitors will compete in a 10K or 5K race with extreme obstacles.
• Double Vision – The Foreigner Experience at 6:30 pm June 25 in the 400 block of Main Street as part of the summer concert series. Off the Walk: Art and Artisan Pop-Up Market with the Coshocton Art Guild will be earlier in the day.
• All-A-Flutter Butterfly Enclosure Exhibition from 10 am to 4 pm June 28 to July 3 at Clary Gardens. Participants can enter a butterfly house owned by Fran LeMasters and experience butterflies up close.
• “Godspell” musical by Rogue Elephant Productions at 7 pm July 1, 2, 7 and 9 and 2 pm July 3 at Clary Gardens. The show is a retelling of the Gospel of Matthew set in the modern day.
• Canal Quilters annual quilt show from 10 am to 5 pm July 8 and 9 at Coshocton Christian Tabernacle with Shirley Stutz as the featured quilter. Admission is $ 5.
• Three Rivers Fire District 24th annual car show July 16 in the 400 block of Main Street. Trucks, cars, motorcycle and semis welcome with an entry fee of $ 10. There will be a 50/50 drawing, food, music and trophies for winners.
• Rock Coshocton Motor and Music Festival July 22 to 24 at the Coshocton County Fairgrounds. Musical acts include Cold Gin, Nightrain, Charlie Bonnett III and Smilo and the Ghost. There will be obstacle courses and races for Jeeps, UTVs, mini-bikes and more. Tickets are $ 10 Friday and Sunday and $ 35 on Saturday.
• Coshocton Sunflower Festival Aug. 6 to 21 at the Coshocton KOA Campground. There will be food, live entertainment and more as people walk through fields of sunflowers for photos. Flowers can also be cut to take home. Various events and times throughout the festival days.