The Norfolk Area Visitors Bureau recounted some its successes last year at the bureau’s advisory committee meeting Tuesday.
Although the exact number of visitors and total economic impact brought to Norfolk and Madison County won’t be available until next year, there were some indications of increasing tourism.
For example, the Norfolk area was host to 36 conventions and reunions, totaling about 6,000 visitors just from those events, along with six bus tours. There was an estimated $360,000 collected from lodging taxes in 2019.
The bureau and the Norfolk Area Sports Council distributed $85,372 in grant funds last year to help fund sporting events and tournaments, as well as large community events such as Boomfest, Christian Cross Festival and more.
The committee also reviewed a recently launched event in Norfolk: the Norfolk LAN Party.
The Norfolk LAN (or Local Area Network) Party had 42 attendees playing video games together over the course of 26 hours on Jan. 3-4.
Dr. David Kassmeier, a chiropractor and organizer of the event, said to the committee that it was a good start and hopes it can grow to at least 100 attendees. He said beyond that, the potential could be enormous, as a similar event in Omaha has drawn more than 600 participants and another in Oregon drew nearly 1,000.
Overall, the event brought families and participants of various ages groups. Along with sponsorship from the visitors bureau, the event also had other local sponsors and donations from a California gaming company, Hyper X.
Traci Jeffrey, director of the visitors bureau, said she had hoped someone would be able to take advantage of the growing interest in gaming in Norfolk.
Kassmeier said the next LAN party will take place in August and again next January.
The committee also approved a new member and chair and vice chair assignments for the year.
Camy Leathers, a Norfolk Realtor, was approved as the committee’s new chairwoman after the departure of Ron Stauffer. Mary Colfack, general manager of Holiday Inn Express and Suites, was approved as vice chair.
Gene Walker, manager of Hy-Vee East, was approved as a new board member to replace Stauffer. The appointment must be approved by the Madison County board of commissioners.