Article via The Beacon
A bit of rain that greeted attendees of the 28th annual Experience Ottawa County at Schedel Arboretum and Gardens in Elmore didn’t keep officials from the purpose of the event: Networking and learning about the county’s unique businesses and organizations. While the rain fell, attendees enjoyed conversations and a catered dinner under a tent. By the time dinner was over, the rain cleared, and the crowd mingled across the manicured grounds of Schedel and visited vendor booths.
Experience Ottawa County is hosted annually by Ottawa County Improvement Corporation (OCIC).
“We stayed optimistic about the weather, and now there’s a lot of good conversation going on,” said OCIC Manager of Communications and Programs, Jessica Grzechowiak. “We have about 250 people here. That’s a record after last year. We want to thank all of our sponsors for making this our second biggest year.”
Among the vendors was Black Swamp Bird Observatory (BSBO), where executive director Kimberly Kauffman, handed out free rain ponchos and talked with visitors about the joys of birding, as well as the biological and economic impact birding has on Northwest Ohio.
“We’re very honored for the invitation to participate,” Kauffman said. “We appreciate what Ottawa County Improvement Corporation does for the county. We would have been here to support them, rain or shine.”
Among the many vendors were Ottawa County Park District, Designs by Marie, Ottawa County Skilled Trades Academy and Shores & Islands Ohio, which focuses on destination development and was sharing information on its efforts to promote the area to visitors and local residents.
William “Bill” Kieffer, Elmore council president, attended the event to promote his business, Kieffer & Associates, and to represent the village. Kieffer is an Elmore native who was happy to learn that this year’s Experience Ottawa County would be hosted by Schedel, the longtime residence of Joseph and Marie Schedel.
“It brings a spotlight on the village and the amenities here. Schedel is a hidden gem in our village,” Kieffer said. “I love seeing all this happening down here. My mom and dad were friends with Joe and Marie. This is a special place.”
Grzechowiak said Schedel Events Coordinator Veronica Sheets was an invaluable help as they planned the event.
“We’re happy Schedel let us host our 28th Experience Ottawa County here. If someone hasn’t visited Schedel, I encourage them to check it out,” Grzechowiak said.
In an effort to highlight the county, OCIC connected with local businesses to provide food and drinks. Dinner was prepared by Chefsbest Catering in Port Clinton, Yellow House Bakery in Port Clinton provided dessert, Put-in-Bay Brewery provided kegs of beer, Gideon Owen on Catawba Island provided wine and Schedel provided mixed drinks.
“We’re trying to get everyone to experience Ottawa County, so we have food from Port Clinton and drinks from the islands. We have all these business in one location,” Grzechowiak said.
OCIC President Justin Moore said Experience Ottawa County created a unique opportunity to network.
“The beauty of this event is to showcase local talent and small businesses and bring together big business owners,” Moore said. “Ottawa County has so much to offer, from Elmore to Port Clinton to Catawba. We have so many great businesses and so many great employees.”
Among the many people who attended Experience Ottawa County were Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur; State Rep. Elgin Rogers; Christa Luttman, Northwest Regional Liaison to the Office of Governor Mike DeWine; Tim Schneider, Northwest Ohio Representative to the Office of U.S. Senator JD Vance; and Ottawa County Commissioners Donald Douglas and Mark Coppeler.