A Clere view of the Statehouse: Stay and play - or get away
"Restart Your Engines." It's Indiana's tourism slogan, and it's good, timely advice.
Visit Indiana Week starts Friday, and the state's official tourism website promises to reveal big savings on travel. Go to visitindiana.com to sign up.
Tourism is big business in Indiana. A 2007 report sums up its impact on our state economy:
"Annually, the tourism industry brings in approximately $9 billion in spending from 59 million leisure visitors - people who travel at least 50 miles to reach one of Indiana's many destinations. Tourism contributes to a diversified economic base and visitor spending creates more than 264,000 tourism-related jobs each year. The effects of visitor spending within local economies reach not only traditional tourism entities, but also businesses such as gas stations, restaurants and grocery stores."
A good starting point for learning about travel destinations in the Hoosier State is the 2010 Indiana Travel Guide.
The 136-page guide divides the state into six regions and devotes about 15 pages to each. We're in the South region. The section introduction includes a photo of an exhibit at the Carnegie Center for Art & History in New Albany.
As that suggests, you need not go far to find great attractions, festivals and other events. The Carnegie Center is one of a growing - and ever-improving - number of local draws.
Other examples include the fourth annual Art on the Parish Green, which is June 5-6 at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in New Albany, and the Kentuckiana Celtic Fest, which returns to the New Albany riverfront amphitheater June 12.
We're fortunate to have many fine attractions close to home. In addition to those I've mentioned, the Travel Guide reminds us of several others, including Squire Boone Caverns, which is south of Corydon, and Derby Dinner Playhouse in Clarksville. There are countless others. Southern Indiana is a big tourism destination, and it's easy to forget that many people travel hours to enjoy what we sometimes take for granted.
Of course, it's always fun to go someplace new and different, even if only for a day trip or a weekend getaway, and the Travel Guide charts a course for endless possibilities. If you have a high-speed Internet connection, you can download the Travel Guide (it's 31 MB).
If you don't have Internet access, don't worry. Simply call my office at 1-800-382-9841 to request a copy of the Travel Guide or any other publication mentioned in this column. Just ask for my assistant, Clinton Bohm, and he will make sure you get what you need.
In addition to the Travel Guide, you can also order free copies of other useful publications at visitindiana.com. Even if you have Internet access, it may be faster to request copies through my office; the Web site says to allow at least three weeks for delivery.
Last year, to save postage and speed delivery, I hand-delivered publications to some folks who requested them, so don't be surprised if I show up on your doorstep. The legislature is not in session; Clinton and my Statehouse office are in Indianapolis, but I'm here most of the time.
Among the publications you may order is the 2010 Indiana Festival Guide. Its 64 pages provide a glimpse of Indiana's regional and cultural diversity.
Here are a few upcoming examples of not-too-far-away festivals and their descriptions from the guide:
· May 13-29, Bloomington: BloomingPlays Festival. Bloomington Playwrights Project. A celebration of new plays by Indiana playwrights, offering a uniquely Hoosier experience for every theatre-goer.
· May 21-22, Madison: Ohio River Valley Folk Festival. Riverfront. Nationally known folk musicians, storytelling, traditional crafts, food, regional wines and beer. Family-friendly.
· June 3-6, Campbellsburg: All-American Country Hoedown. Campbellsburg Park. Classic cars and antique tractor shows, talent contest, town-wide yard sale, parade. Much to see and do for the entire family.
Some are even closer, such as the Charlestown Founder's Day Festival (June 25-26), Cockadoodle Days (July 2-3) in Corydon and Sellersburg Celebrates! (Aug. 26-28). If you're willing to drive a little farther, the options increase by the mile.
Other available publications include a travel map, a Golf and Travel Guide and brochures about Indiana wineries and the Indiana Glass Trail.
The tourism folks don't have all the good publications. Anyone who enjoys the outdoors will want to visit the Department of Natural Resources Web site at www.in.gov/dnr. The cover of the 2010 Indiana Recreation Guide says it all: "Treasures in Your Own Backyard." It includes 32 pages of everything you need to know about state parks and other DNR properties.
Other publications are available, including hunting and fishing guides. (By the way, Free Fishing Weekend is June 5-6; Indiana residents can fish without purchasing a license.) Again, feel free to call my office for a hard copy of any publication.
So go ahead, ladies and gentlemen, restart your engines, and let me know how I can help.