Who’s Coming to Town in 2013?

by Shari Held

It’s too soon to tell if 2013 will be a breakout year, but there’s a lot going on in Northwest Indiana and the Chicago area for 2013.

“We are optimistic about 2013, with convention and sports bookings ahead of this time last year for the upcoming year,” says Carolyne Wallace, director of sales for Visit South Bend Mishawaka. “Over the past 12 months our ADR (average daily rate) and occupancy rate has been slowly but steadily increasing.”

Wallace notes the U.S. 31 project as one factor spurring the optimism. “We plan to market to our potential clients and visitors coming from Kokomo, Indianapolis and southern Indiana, that ‘South Bend just got a lot closer,’” Wallace says. “This should increase our state association and sports bookings.”

Here’s a look at some of the events scheduled to come to the area and the anticipated economic impact.

LAKE COUNTY
The Radisson Hotel at Star Plaza in Merrillville will host a variety of events in 2013. The 20th annual Indiana Challenge (Feb. 21 to 23) will add nearly 500 room nights and have an anticipated economic impact of $123,250.

More than 250 billiards players from across the state will compete in the American Cue Sports Indiana State 8-Ball Championships (Feb. 27 to March 3 to determine the state champion. The event generally books more than 200 rooms with an estimated economic impact of $50,000-plus.

About 500 participants are anticipated to attend the Region V Title 1 Parents LLC Annual Convention (March 10-16), which hasn’t been held in the area since 2007. The event, which isn’t open to the public, is expected to add 775 room nights.

One hundred attendees are expected at the 2013 Student Competition (April 10-13), sponsored by the American Advertising Federation. The event has an economic impact of $32,000.

From June 22 to July 1, the Radisson will host some 450 attendees of the Exponential I.M.P.A.C.T., sponsored by Crusaders Ministries. Room nights are anticipated to reach 1,111, and an economic impact of $277,750.

The Alliance of Indiana Rural Water (Aug. 20 to 22) will bring an anticipated 246 room nights and an economic impact of $61,500.

The Indiana Criminal Justice Association (Oct. 21 to 25) is estimated to bring $95,000 to Merrillville, with an anticipated 380 room nights sold.

Lake County is the site of various sports-related events throughout 2013. Valparaiso University will host the 67th annual Lutheran Basketball National Championship (March 22 to 24). On average, the event sells 2,400 room nights and has an estimated economic impact of more than $600,000.

More than 90 of the best girls traveling basketball teams and programs across the country will be hosted at The Fieldhouse in Merrillville for the Adidas Girls Basketball Tournament (April 19 to 21). This event yields more than 450 booked rooms with an economic impact of more than $112,500.

One thousand of the best amateur tri-athletes in the nation are expected to attend the fourth annual Leon’s Triathlon (June 2) at Wolf Lake in Hammond. Boasting one of the fastest and most distinctive courses in the world, Leon’s is one of the fastest-growing triathlons in the nation. It is broadcast coast-to-coast on Comcast SportsNet affiliates.

More than 200 of the world’s best golfers will come together at Lemon Lake County Park in Crown Point to compete in the Professional Disc Golf Association World Championships (Aug. 3 to 10). The event is anticipated to result in more than 200 room nights and an estimated economic impact of more than $50,000.

The Cal Ripken Major World Series (Aug. 9 to 16) at Hammond Optimist Park will determine which of the nation’s 10 best baseball teams will take home the trophy.

LAPORTE COUNTY
Twelve hundred people are anticipated to attend the Eby-Brown 2013 Expo (April 24 to 26) at the Stardust Event Center in Michigan City. The three-day conference, which is not open to the public, brings together leading convenience store suppliers and wholesale food distributors of tobacco, candy and other convenience store products. This is the second consecutive year the event has been held in Michigan City.

“The Eby-Brown event will most likely exceed the number of attendees from last year,” says Rick Wright, convention and leisure sales manager for LaPorte County Convention and Visitors Bureau, adding that overall, the meetings and conventions business in LaPorte County remains consistent in 2013. One-thousand room nights are anticipated to be sold with the estimated economic impact weighing in at around $345,000.

Seventy-five boats, manned with crews ranging from two to six people, will compete for $10,000 in the Hoosier CoHo Club Classic (May 4 to 5). The event will take place in Lake Michigan waters off Washington Park in Michigan City for the 39th consecutive year.

Weigh-ins are on Saturday and Sunday. This longest-running fishing tournament on Lake Michigan kicks off the Great Lakes salmon and trout season and pumps more than $2 million into the local economy. More than 1,000 room nights are anticipated to be booked.

New to the LaPorte area in 2013 is the Midwest Tool Collectors Association (June 12 to 15), the world’s largest tool-collecting organization. The event will be at the Stardust Event Center at Blue Chip Casino. Up to 400 attendees are anticipated to book 300 room nights, with an estimated economic impact of $120,000.

For the fifth consecutive year, the Great Lakes Super Boat Grand Prix (July 30 to Aug. 4), the only offshore powerboat race on a Great Lake, will be held at Washington Park Beach. Admission is free, and 125,000 visitors are expected to browse the pit areas and meet the racers.

“Many racers like to let folks actually get into the cockpits,” says Jason Miller, sports development manager for LaPorte County Convention and Visitors Bureau. The “must-see” portion of the event is the Saturday night boat parade/block party in partnership with Taste of Michigan City featuring live bands and a local food-festival.

Up to 40,000 people can watch the boats get into position for the parade and get a chance to mingle with the racers and crew. “It’s a great community block party,” Miller says. “In its first four years the Grand Prix has pumped between $5.5 and $7.5 million per year into the local economy for a total of more than $20 million over four years.” Three thousand room nights are anticipated to be sold in 2013.

PORTER COUNTY
Porter County’s biggest draw is Indiana Dunes. Each year more than 3 million visitors flock to Porter County to visit Indiana Dunes State Park and the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.

Lorelei Weimer, executive director for Indiana Dune Tourism, says the organization has worked on several initiatives to increase visitation to Porter County and that the county’s hotel room revenue and room demand are expected to increase in 2013. The average overnight visitor spends about $93 per day and the average day visitor spends $40.

The Lutheran Basketball Association Tournament (March 21 to 24) has been hosted by Valparaiso University since 1971. The tournament brings more than 2,000 visitors to the area and nets, on average, 2,400 room nights.

The university also will host the Institute of Liturgical Studies Conference (April 8 to 10), and its 28th Annual Jazz Fest (April 15 to 20) will draw visitors from all around.

The Big Bass Bash fishing tournament (June 28 to 29) in Portage anticipates an attendance of several hundred people netting 50 room nights for its debut year.
The Association of Lutheran Church Musicians Biennial Conference (June 30 to July 3) will be held at Valparaiso University.

The Valparaiso Popcorn Festival (Sept. 7) in Central Park Plaza is one of the county’s biggest festivals, drawing 50,000 to 55,000 people, most from throughout the region. This year will mark the 35th year for the festival, which features more than 200 arts and crafts booths, a parade and numerous activities for the entire family.

Chesterton’s Wizard of Oz Festival (Sept. 13 to 15) and Portage’s Elvis FANtasy Fest (Oct. 11 to 13) draw the highest percentage of visitors from outside the area.

ST. JOSEPH COUNTY
Five thousand people are anticipated to attend the RVIC Valley RV and Camping Show (Jan. 18 to 20) at Century Center in South Bend.

The Indiana State USBC Youth Bowling Tournament returns to South Bend’s Chippewa Bowl for the first time since 2003 on weekends from Feb. 22 through May 12. The competition draws up to 3,000 youth bowlers statewide.

The Hart-Parr Oliver Collectors Association Winter GetAway (March 20 to 24) is coming to South Bend for the first time, convening at Century Center and DoubleTree by Hilton South Bend. The anticipated 450 attendees can view public displays of Oliver and Hart-Parr tractors, plows, lawn tractors and more. Tours of Oliver family sites including the Oliver Mansion, Riverview Cemetery and James Oliver Memorial Park at the Oliver Industrial Park are available.

Century Center and DoubleTree by Hilton South Bend also will host the PRIDE2013 World Drug Prevention Conference (April 5 to 12), the 36th annual conference to be held in South Bend. Attracting 900 attendees, the organization is the nation’s oldest and largest peer-to-peer organization devoted to drug abuse and violence prevention through education.

The 32nd annual Studebaker Drivers Club Michiana Chapter Car Show and Swap Meet (May 2 to 4) at the St. Joseph County 4-H Fairgrounds draws thousands of spectators every year. Attendees of the free event can see, and even buy, Studebakers, parts and accessories.

The Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition (May 10 to 12), the largest chamber music competition in the world, is held on the campus of the University of Notre Dame, and is open to the public. It’s the only national chamber music competition offering both senior (ages 18 to 35) and junior (age 18 and younger) divisions.

The National Medjugorje Conference (May 24 to 26) returns to the University of Notre Dame for the 25th time to celebrate the appearance of the Holy Virgin Mary to six children in the mountain village of Medjugorje, Yugoslavia, in 1981.

BUSY YEAR AT THE PALAIS ROYALE Events at the South Bend venue include the Bob and Tom Comedy Tour on Valentine’s Day, the South Bend Parks Department Mom-Son Dance as well as the annual Easter Brunch in March, the Mother’s Day Brunch in May, and the New Year’s Eve Dinner/Dance as the year closes.

More than 1,000 collectors of Buick vehicles will gather on the grounds and facilities of the Gillespie Conference Center in South Bend for the Buick Club of America National Meet (July 12 to 21). This is the first time South Bend has hosted the meet, which will feature 750 cars on display for public view, meetings, banquets, tours and other activities.

The 48th annual National Baton Twirling Association America’s Youth on Parade competition (July 23 to 27) returns to Notre Dame for the 44th consecutive year in 2013. With more than 4,000 participants plus family members and coaches, its economic impact is estimated at several million dollars annually. The free event is open to the public.

The 2013 lineup of the World Pulse Festival (Aug. 10) includes many popular national acts. The annual Christian music festival generally attracts 50,000 to the south side of South Bend.

COOK COUNTY, ILL.
With more than 200 events listed on its convention calendar for 2013, the Windy City’s McCormick Place, Merchandise Mart and plentiful hotels handle their fair share of conferences. Here’s a smattering of upcoming events.

Coming to Chicago Events at McCormick Place include the International Home & Housewares Show; the Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show; and the American Library Association’s Annual Conference.

Navy Pier will host the Mid-America Horticultural Trade Show’s (Jan. 16 to 18) anticipated 7,900 attendees; nearly 5,000 attendees for Coffee Fest Chicago (June 5 to 10); and approximately 5,000 attendees of the Independent Garden Center Show (Aug. 20 to 22).

McCormick Place will host an anticipated 60,000 attendees for the International Home & Housewares Show (March 2 to 5); an anticipated 61,000 attendees for the National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show (May 18 to 21); and 25,000 anticipated attendees of the American Library Association’s Annual Conference (June 27 to July 2).

The Merchandise Mart will host the 40,000 anticipated attendees of NeoCon(R) 2013 World’s Trade Fair (June 10 to 12).

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