Terry Mattson: Tall ships embody the heart, soul and energy of DuluthSome 225,000 fans were attracted to the week-long Tall Ships spectacle. Direct retail impact is estimated at $15 million. The image and popularity of Duluth as a visitor destination is further elevated and a lifetime of memories were created.
By: Terry Mattson, Budgeteer News
As we enter the proverbial calm after the storm, it is apparent Tall Ships Duluth 2010 will go down in history as a milestone event.
Some 225,000 fans were attracted to this week-long spectacle. Direct retail impact is estimated at $15 million. The image and popularity of Duluth as a visitor destination is further elevated and a lifetime of memories were created.
The conventional measurements are remarkable. They have real-life implications for Duluth’s businesses, jobs and families. In addition to those successful criteria, I’d like to share insights that aren’t so evident, but are arguably important.
Here are just a few things I learned at Tall Ships:
• A community that works together can accomplish almost anything. Without Visit Duluth and its partnership with the University of Minnesota Duluth School of Fine Arts, along with a diverse group of entities, this event never would have happened. Stakeholders, including the city of Duluth, local business sponsors, U.S. Coast Guard, MnDOT, Duluth Seaway Port Authority, Duluth Playhouse, Draw Events, the DECC, Great Lakes Aquarium, Duluth Police Department, the American Sail Training Association and many more, worked together for nearly two years on promotion, planning and logistics. This level of preparation ensured a dynamic, safe, secure and well-attended event. For a very high percentage of our visitors, this was their first introduction to the region.
• More than 300 volunteers cannot be thanked enough.
• Two of Duluth’s Rotary Clubs contributed to offer a better experience for attendees. Duluth Rotary Club 25 was our first major sponsor; its volunteers sold water to patrons at bargain prices on the festival grounds. This service was much appreciated by our guests during sweltering afternoons. The Duluth Superior Eco Rotary Club’s volunteers helped tens of thousands of visitors find their way among the tall ships each day.
• It’s the little things that matter. Our goal at Visit Duluth has always been to be the very best. We are driven and inspired by locals whose own personal commitment to the place they love sets them apart. If you’ve ever been to the State Fair or any other event of this magnitude, you know that people can get a little irritable after a few hours in crowds. So that’s why a little unexpected kindness can make all the difference. All weekend I witnessed our professional staff, volunteers and guests alike offering each other small gestures that had a big impact.
• Bayfront Festival Park is a world-class venue. At next week’s Bayfront Blues Festival, guests will realize it yet again. But to see the thousands of people who turned out each night for “The Pirates of Penzance” on the Lois M. Paulucci Main Stage — including Saturday’s estimated 8,000 fans — reinforces how amazing an experience it is to watch performances on Duluth’s waterfront.
• Events like this don’t have to be detrimental to our environment. With the help of WLSSD and Hartel’s/DBJ Disposal, guests clearly knew where to recycle products throughout the venue. As a result, they recycled more than 25 cubic yards of cardboard and more than 30 cubic yards of plastic, glass and cans. Our high percentage of recyclables is another smashing record for Duluth events.
On behalf of Visit Duluth, I would like to personally thank all of our partners and stakeholders for supporting the Tall Ships Duluth 2010 vision, the biggest week of Duluth’s storied history. I also want to thank our citizens for welcoming a record number of visitors to Duluth.
Everybody who contributed to making this event a reality should be very proud. Visit Duluth Board Chair Tony Bronson says it best.
“The event showcased Duluth at its finest, and the positive ripple effects will reach beyond these few days,” he said.
Indeed the wave of this successful celebration embodying Duluth’s history, recreation, infrastructure, environment and culture will resonate for quite awhile, and sometimes it’s the less obvious things that make it all worthwhile.
Terry Mattson is the president and CEO of Visit Duluth, the city’s convention and visitors bureau, and is responsible for leading the official destination marketing efforts. Contact Mattson by telephone at 722-4011 or by e-mail at email@example.com.