• Full Season Ahead After Tornado in Gaylord

     
    POSTED June 27, 2022
     
    Photo credit: Courtesy of Gaylord Area Convention & Tourism Bureau
  • Full Season Ahead After Tornado in Gaylord

     
    POSTED June 27, 2022
     
    Photo credit: Courtesy of Gaylord Area Convention & Tourism Bureau
  • Full Season Ahead After Tornado in Gaylord

     
    POSTED June 27, 2022
     
    Photo credit: Courtesy of Gaylord Area Convention & Tourism Bureau

First came COVID. Then came the tornado.

The northern Michigan community of Gaylord was just starting to rebound from the pandemic with its groups and events business as a new season was getting underway when a rare EF3 tornado with estimated wind speeds between 136 and 165 miles per hour struck May 20.

Two people were killed and at least 44 were injured, according to official reports at the time. West Michigan meteorologist Bill Steffen said it was the strongest tornado to strike in the U.S. that month. 

Much of the damage was confined to businesses on the city’s west side and a mobile home community that was particularly hard hit.

Somehow, the key destinations for meetings and events were for the most part unscathed, including destinations Otsego Resort and Treetops Resort, says Paul Beachnau, executive director of the Gaylord Area Convention & Tourism Bureau. Gaylord bills itself as a Golf Mecca with 17 golf courses and is a popular destination for groups.

“It’s been about a month now and we have been really spreading the message that fortunately, none of our assets or our tourism community was affected,” Beachnau says. “Like by the Sunday after the tornado happened on a Friday, 98 percent of the power was restored.”

Also that weekend, about 1,500 people swarmed the community to help move debris and clear rubbish, he notes.

“They were going to schedule the National Guard to come in and help and they canceled that because there wasn’t enough for them to do,” Beachnau says.

A tornado recovery fund administered by a local community foundation has garnered $1 million in donations and counting, and has begun making grants to help those most affected by the tornado with expenses.

In the meantime, with COVID in the rearview mirror and tornado recovery continuing, it’s full speed ahead on a very busy season.

“We’re starting to see some very nice meeting and event venues for weddings and corporate events at Otsego Resort and Treetops,” Beachnau says. “The staff at Treetops told me they’re starting to see a slow return to their meeting and conference business, they’re starting to see a nice uptick there.”

The community’s annual Alpenfest will go on as normal, scheduled for July 12-16. Ditto the Big Ticket Festival, one of the largest Christian music festivals in the Midwest, coming July 7-10 at the Otsego County Fair.

“All of our downtown events are going full bore,” Beachnau says. “Our farmers market is open. 

“We had a little brief interruption for about a week or 10 days, but again, things have picked up.”

 

After a three-year hiatus, the North American International Auto Show is back in Detroit this fall.

Anchored by Huntington Place with additional components taking place throughout downtown Detroit, it will be open to the public Sept. 17-25. Media/Tech Days are set for Sept. 14 and 15, with a Charity Preview Sept. 16.

Chairman Joe Lunghamer says he’s excited that the show is returning.

“We are grateful to be back,” he says. “The Detroit Auto Show has a long history. Everyone seems to have a story about their experiences at the show.

 

Scouting properties to hold events takes time and money.

RendezVerse Limited is getting ready to introduce a platform that will help save both by doing such site visits in virtual reality.

RendezVerse is the metaverse tech spinoff from WorldWide Events, established in 2004 to bring together hotel business development teams and event planners in a forum format.

 

The Events Industry Council’s Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) program, established in 1985, is recognized around the world as a badge of excellence in the events industry. JodieAnn Cady, an independent event project manager based in Mason, is among the professionals in the inaugural class of CMP Fellows, a program launched last year.