By DENISE GRANT
Hancock County collected a record amount of hotel bed taxes for the third consecutive year in 2013, according to the Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The agency reviewed its 2014 annual report with the county commissioners on Thursday.
Money from the county’s 3 percent hotel bed tax funds the convention bureau.
A total of $502,156 was collected in 2013, compared to $488,177 in 2012 and $429,629 in 2011. Bureau officials said the numbers represent continued growth in travel and tourism for Findlay and Hancock County.
Rachael Rahrig, director of the Convention and Visitors Bureau, said that growth is expected to continue. Rahrig was named director of the bureau in 2013.
This year, Rahrig said the bureau will “renew its sport focus.”
For the first time, Findlay has been selected to host the USA national women’s softball team sponsored by the National Amateur Softball Organization. The team, which includes members of the U.S. Olympic team, will host a children’s clinic and then play a doubleheader and sign autographs for fans on June 15-17.
Crowds of more than 3,000 are expected for the event at the Marathon Diamonds complex at the Cube, 3430 N. Main St.
The Cube was also selected to host the softball organization’s national youth tournament this year. That event is expected to be a large draw for both players and fans. It attracted nearly 40 teams when hosted in Maryland last year.
Rahrig described Findlay as “booming” with new lodging properties, the future construction of the performing arts center, and industry developments.
She said promotion of the community continues to reach wider audiences through social media, the bureau’s website, advertising and media coverage.
Mobile billboards are also helping spread the word, Rahrig said.
The billboards are actually truck trailers with 53-foot “Visit Findlay” images that Rahrig said are now cruising the region.
The bureau partnered with the Garner Transportation Group, Findlay, to get the billboards rolling.
Each truck features full-length images of the BalloonFest, Findlay’s hot air balloon festival, and a rural scene of the county Barn Quilt Trail.
The barn quilt trail movement began in Adams County, Ohio, and has since spread to 29 states and Canada. Barn quilts are painted quilt squares, usually fashioned on boards and then mounted on a barn or other building. The Hancock County Barn Quilt Trail was founded in 2010 and now includes more than 60 barn quilts.
Rahrig said the trucks will cover more than 100,000 miles per year and the images have a lifespan of about 10 years.
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