BY DAVE BLANK
Visitor Spending Sets a Record
The 2017 Racine County visitor spending numbers were recently released by the Wisconsin Department of Tourism and they showed that visitor spending was up 3.23 percent over 2016 to $236.7 million. This is a new record! The study was done by Tourism Economics. There were 4,025 (FTE) positions with a total payroll of $112.1 million. Visitors contributed $27 million in state and local taxes. This helped to defray the cost of local services that you and I have to pay for.
Remembering one of Racine County’s true “originals”
It is with a heavy heart that we note the passing of our long-time friend, Fred Hermes. Fred entertained thousands of visitors and residents over the years by playing his huge 3,000-pipe Wurlitzer organ which he installed in the basement of his Caledonia home in the mid 1950s. For many years he was one of the most popular group tour attractions in the county. The organ originally came from the Michigan Theatre in Detroit, but Fred and some friends saved it from the wrecking ball, moved it to Caledonia and then he built his home around it. Later he put in over 100 theatre seats from Racine’s Uptown Theatre and a lift for the organ. It was quite an attraction! You may have seen him on CBS Sunday Morning, 60 Minutes, WISN 12’s Seasons to Celebrate or recently on John McGivern’s “Around the Corner.” Fred was truly one-of-a-kind and he will be missed.
Triathlon is cancelled
Real Racine and the race promoter, HFP Racing, have made the difficult decision to pull the plug on the Real Racine International Triathlon. We only had 92 athletes registered for the event and it was less than 90 days out. Despite our best marketing efforts, it was clearly not going to reach the breakeven point. Thanks to all those who helped make the Wisconsin Dairyland Triathlon, Spirit of Racine, and later the Ironman Racine 70.3, a world-class event here for 14 years.
Open House Racine County grows in popularity
Saturday, May 5 was sunny and warm. It was a perfect day to explore Racine County (for FREE) during the third annual Open House Racine County event. Fifty-seven interesting places across the county participated. Some of the more popular sites were Oak Clearing Farm, Modine Benstead Observatory, Putzmeister, Wingspread, and the Racine Masonic Temple. The event will be held next year on Saturday, May 4, 2019.
Dave Blank is the president/CEO of Real Racine (Racine County Convention & Visitors Bureau).