The skies were blue, the temperatures warm, and Geauga County did what it does so well; welcomed visitors and showed them the hospitality that we are so well known for. This particular group of Japanese Tourism professionals was looking for new areas to visit with their tour groups and had contacted the Positively Cleveland Visitor Center. Their goal was to explore the Cleveland area and also to learn about easy daytrips from Cleveland that would give visitors another very different view of Northeast Ohio. This particular group requested a tour of the rural Amish community.
Positively Cleveland staff called on the Geauga County Tourism office to help put together the itinerary for the group.
We love these opportunities to showcase all the area has to offer and frequently work with Cleveland on these types of tours,” said Lynda Nemeth, Geauga County Tourism Director.
A Familiarization (or FAM) Tour follows a very rigid timeline and the goal is to showcase as much as possible in a short amount of time to give the group an overview of an area and entice them to come back and bring more tourism to a region. The group consisted of people who owned tour companies, arranged group travel through various Japanese organizations, and a couple of airline company representatives from Nippon Airlines.
With Nemeth acting as a ‘step-on’ guide for the group, they enjoyed a stop at Middlefield Cheese, a tour of Amish back roads, where they were able to see much activity on a beautiful spring day, including a large wedding gathering and many farmers readying their fields. They visited an Amish schoolhouse, made a stop at the End of the Commons, and dropped by Amish Home Craft Shop & Bakery. They also enjoyed a traditional Amish wedding dinner in an Amish home. The group was impressed by the delicious assortment of food, and when the pies were brought out, several decided that this was the best meal they had encountered in the United States.
The group was impressed by the area and in awe of the Amish lifestyle.
They asked excellent questions and were very inquisitive, especially at the schoolhouse,” said Nemeth. “They enjoyed interacting with the people they met along the way and were extremely respectful of everyone’s participation in providing this experience to them.”
The group was very excited to meet Geauga County Tourism mascot Maple Max, and by the end of the afternoon were carrying him around and snapping their own pictures to include him.
They did not leave empty handed either! The Positively Cleveland staff outfitted a couple of large coolers on the bus so bags of cheese and Amish bakery could be taken back. Hand-woven baskets, cookbooks, quilted pieces, and a variety of specialty foods were also seen packed away on the bus as a very tired and happy group left Geauga County.