Folks tour Kirt­land Tem­ple with vis­i­tors bu­reau

The News Herald (Willoughby, OH) - - Front Page - By Jonathan Tressler jtressler@news-her­ @JTfromtheNH on Twit­ter

If the His­toric Kirt­land Tem­ple had a dol­lar for all the North­east Ohio res­i­dents who say they’ve driven past the place hun­dreds of times over the years, yet never stopped to visit, it would likely have mil­lions more dol­lars in its cof­fers.

Just ask Di­rec­tor Seth Bryant, who says he hears that story over and over again from folks who, de­spite liv­ing within a few dozen miles — or less — of the na­tional his­toric site, have never taken the time to tour the 182-year-old struc­ture.

He even posed the ques­tion dur­ing the first Lake County

Vis­i­tors Bu­reau Brown Bag Gath­er­ing, which hap­pened at the tem­ple from noon to 1 p.m. Feb. 13.

“How many of you have driven past the tem­ple — I don’t know — a hun­dred times and thought: ‘I should go and visit that,’ and this is the first time that you’ve been in­side?” Bryant said fol­low­ing a tour and brief ques­tion-and-an­swer ses­sion in­side the iconic build­ing.

Eas­ily more than a dozen of the event’s at­ten­dees raised their hands.

It’s just that kind of re­sponse the Lake County Vis­i­tors Bu­reau is try­ing to hedge through its new brand­ing cam­paign, Re­mark­able Lake County OH, and the events it has planned to man­i­fest it.

Ac­cord­ing to Lake County Vis­i­tors Bu­reau Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Scott Dockus, the ini­tia­tive aims to high­light 10 of tourism’s sub­di­vi­sions which ex­ist through­out the county: agri­cul­ture; at­trac­tions; cities and vil­lages; events; fine arts; her­itage; lodg­ing; out­doors and winer­ies-brew­eries-dis­til­leries.

Af­ter the tour of the tem­ple, Bryant and Dockus in­ter­acted with the group about tourism in Lake County, where it’s headed and what they want to see hap­pen with it in the fu­ture.

“Lake County is an in­cred­i­ble

place,” Bryant said, adding that the busi­ness and agency rep­re­sen­ta­tives in at­ten­dance have an op­por­tu­nity to work to­gether to achieve com­merce and tourism goals, along with pro­vid­ing area res­i­dents with ac­cess and ex­po­sure to all the small­est of the state’s 88 coun­ties has to of­fer.

“So,” he said, “How do we con­nect all of our places to­gether and get peo­ple vis­it­ing - and not just out lo­cal res­i­dents. How do we ex­pand that?” he said to the crowd of nearly 30, which in­cluded rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the Fair­port Marine Mu­seum and Light­house, Lake Metroparks, the Wil­loughby West­ern Lake County Cham­ber of Com­merce, along with res­i­dents

of var­i­ous Lake County and other North­east Ohio com­mu­ni­ties.

One agency rep­re­sen­ta­tive said he thinks the gath­er­ing was a great one and that it just goes to show how col­lab­o­ra­tion can work to the county’s ben­e­fit.

“It’s fan­tas­tic,” said Lake Metroparks’s As­sis­tant Chief of Out­door Ed­u­ca­tion. “I’m re­ally look­ing for­ward to the im­pact this se­ries is go­ing to have on ev­ery­body get­ting to­gether and work­ing to­gether. It’s a great way to show­case the county and put its many trea­sures on the map.”

Dan Max­son, who works with the Fair­port Marine Mu­seum and Light­house, as well as serv­ing as do­cent at the Old Stone School­house

in Con­cord Town­ship, which is ad­ja­cent to the park sys­tem’s Green­way Cor­ri­dor, said shortly be­fore the tem­ple tour that many peo­ple likely aren’t aware of how many places of his­toric in­ter­est lie within Lake County’s 228 square miles.

“I think peo­ple don’t re­al­ize how many hid­den gems there are in Lake County,” Max­son said. “We’re the small­est county. But I’d ven­ture to say that we have the most ar­ti­facts.”

He added that “its’ nice to see Scott (Dockus) and the Lake County Vis­i­tors Bu­reau take such an ac­tive in­ter­est in preser­va­tion. I think it’s good.”

Fol­low­ing the tem­ple tour and the event’s name­sake lun­cheon, some Lake County res­i­dents agreed.

“I liked it,” said Men­tor res­i­dent Mike Hearn, who came to the event with his wife, Kate. “I was very im­pressed with the build­ing, it­self. It def­i­nitely wasn’t what I’d ex­pected.”

Hearn ad­mit­ted he’s one of the thou­sands who have driven by the na­tional his­toric land­mark likely thou­sands of times over the years, yet hadn’t stopped in un­til the Feb. 13 event.

Both Kate and Mike agreed they’d come back again and that, now hav­ing seen it af­ter all these years, would rec­om­mend it to oth­ers.

An­other Lake County res­i­dent, Linda Toth from Painesville Town­ship, said she hadn’t been in the tem­ple since go­ing there for a field trip while she was still en­rolled in the Painesville City Schools decades ago.

Also vol­un­teer with the Fair­port Marine Mu­seum and Light­house, she said she learned about the Brown Bag Event by wordof-mouth.

“I thought it was a great event,” she said. “I re­ally en­joyed it. It’s been many years since I’ve been here, as a child.”

She added that she “ab­so­lutely would rec­om­mend” a visit to the site, as well as any other Lake County Vis­i­tors Bu­reau Brown Bag Gath­er­ing.

“Oh yes!” Toth said. “I would def­i­nitely come to the next one.”

Dockus said the Brown Bag Gath­er­ings are planned to hap­pen ev­ery other month and will high­light one of the afore­men­tioned sub­di­vi­sions of Lake County tourism.

As the hour-long, in­au­gu­ral edi­tion wound down and at­ten­dees dis­bursed, Dockus said he thought it was a suc­cess.

“I thought it went well,” he said. “We had, I think, 27 peo­ple who signed up and we had a nice mix of res­i­dents, cham­ber (of com­merce) mem­bers, des­ti­na­tions and busi­nesses. So that was good.”

Bryant agreed, con­firm­ing he thinks the event will likely help bring at­ten­tion to the tem­ple.

“Oh, I think it went great,” he said, adding that he thinks the right mes­sage was de­liv­ered. “Lake County has some amaz­ing places. Kirt­land Tem­ple is one of them. Come and visit.”

“I think peo­ple don’t re­al­ize how many hid­den gems there are in Lake County. We’re the small­est county. But I’d ven­ture to say that we have the most ar­ti­facts.” — Dan Max­son, who works with the Fair­port Marine Mu­seum and Light­house, and serves as do­cent at the Old Stone School­house in Con­cord Town­ship


Vis­i­tors to the His­toric Kirt­land Tem­ple Feb. 13 step in­side the build­ing, some for the first time.


Kirt­land Tem­ple Di­rec­tor Seth Bryant talks about the tem­ple’s his­tory Feb. 13 dur­ing the in­au­gu­ral Lake County Vis­i­tors Bu­reau Brown Bag Gath­er­ing.

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