Normally when I write for our website I’m coming from the position of getting a chance to share what aspect of our community my family explored recently (or where we want to!), where I went shopping, where we ate out and really enjoyed, how I plan to spend (both time and money) an upcoming holiday, and more. But, this time, I want to share a different perspective as a member of your Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Findlay and Hancock County may not even realize how large and robust the hospitality industry is in our community. Comprising of restaurants, shops, museums, parks, stages, coffee shops, attractions, galleries, and, of course, hotels. We help represent all of them and share what they’re doing on VisitFindlay.com and our social media pages. It is the best and most fun job.
It can be really easy to focus on what we’ve lost this year due to the pandemic. The cancelled events, the financial toll, the impact on our physical and mental health, and the effect on personal relationships is huge. But one of the things that has sustained me during this time is the local response from an industry one could argue has been impacted the hardest – our hospitality community.
I’ve been so inspired by the way these people, our neighbors and friends, have navigated the pandemic and the subsequent fall-out.
It has been made clear that indoor theaters and performing arts centers will be the last to reopen. But Marathon Center for the Performing Arts has made sure the show goes on. Heather Clow and her team at MCPA put on drive-in concerts featuring local bands, coordinated online performing arts camps for youth, and connected us with the performing arts on their Digital Stages page.
MCPA wasn’t alone in developing online programming. Hancock Parks continues to provide virtual content 3 times a week, while maintaining our parks and allowing our community to enjoy the beauty of local outdoor space, social distant of course. The Findlay-Hancock Public Library has transitioned story time, makerspace, and book club discussions all online, even as they safely reopened their doors. Mazza Musuem provided story time from the familiar faces kids are used to see during much-missed visits and later added interviews with the illustrators whose work is in the museum (stay tuned for Mazza’s big plans in the fall!) The Black Heritage Library and Multicultural Center added honest monthly community conversations on Facebook Live the first Thursday of the month, adapting to not just the pandemic, but also in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
The volunteers behind Northwest Ohio Railroad Preservation and the staff behind The Children’s Museum of Findlay were able to find safe ways to reopen as soon as the health department cleared them to do so. Findlay Art League will safely host their first in-person show of the year this week in their freshly updated gallery.
Smarty Pants Findlay blew me away with their quick and responsible reaction to quarantine orders. As shops were asked to shut their doors Jane Hassan did so and immediately switched her focus to online sales. Jane loaded all the inventory on to the site and then was the first to offer curbside pick up, as well as same-day free delivery, meaning her books, puzzles, workbooks, toys, and games would arrive faster than large online retailers, oftentimes with much better prices, all while supporting a local, small business.
When restaurants had to shutter their doors due to the pandemic I worried. No surprise, they adapted easily and creatively. I could list how every single restaurant impressed me – transitioning their sit down dining experience to a takeout focus by adding curbside pickup, online ordering, and many even added delivery. Restaurants like Stix and Fins added specials and family packs, recognizing that instead of feeding us on a night out they were now feeding our households at our dinner tables. They gave all of us at home a taste of comfort when nothing in our lives was comfortable.
Lastly, our hotels. Located along busy traveled routes they stayed open for travelers trying to make it home in the middle of a pandemic. Hearing the logistics behind keeping the hotels open is inspiring, to say the least. Keeping their visitors, their staff, and our community safe became their number one priority.
And the list could go on and on. I could talk about the Lunches of Love at We Serve. Coffee or the pay it forward program at Heavenly Pizza. I could talk about the robust Facebook Live Shows at Trends! on Main or how quickly and nicely patio dining sprouted up in our downtown. I could wax poetic about how impressed I am with the team at the Hancock Historical Museum for pivoting every fundraiser event they had planned to fun passports, weeks-long event series, and the innovative and fun activities planned for the upcoming Oktoberfest week. I could also mention the new businesses who used this time to open their doors for the first time, like Summer Creek Apparel and Crafted Nano Brewery. I’ve been left impressed at every turn. Did I miss the many summer time favorites? Absolutely. There were so many opportunities to just throw up our hands and give up, but the positivity of the people behind these community favorites, their ingenuity and adaptability kept me going.
By no stretch of the imagination are we out of the woods yet. The impact of the last four months will last a long, long time. But our community has proven we can withstand strong winds and high waters and now a pandemic. At the risk of sounding very cheesy, we’re #InThisTogetherOhio.