The Epic Iowa Road Trip included 33 counties, 45 communities and 65 destinations in a nine-day tour of the state. Wild Rose Casino in Emmetsburg and the Grotto of the Redemption in West Bend were Palo Alto County destinations.
"Our goal is to showcase all of the great things we have in Iowa," said Shawna Lode, State Tourism Director.?"We hope that people will learn about what we're doing and get excited about what we're doing and they will choose to take their own Epic Iowa Road Trip. There are so many wonderful things to see and do in the State of Iowa, so many hidden gems we need to uncover."
Debi Durham, Director of Iowa Economic Development Authority, addressed the group gathered at the entrance to Wild Rose Casino.
ROAD TRIP -- The Epic Iowa Road Trip bus rolled into Emmetsburg last Thursday morning and parked in front of Wild Rose Casino. Shawna Lode, State Tourism Director, Emmetsburg Chamber Director Deb Hite, Jessica O’Riley, Tourism Communications Manager, and Emmetsburg City Administrator John Bird are pictured after Deb Hite accepted a certificate naming Wild Rose Casino a tourism destination from Shirley Phillips, Western Iowa Tourism Director. --Jane Whitmore photo
"This is a great day to be in Iowa on the Epic Iowa Road Trip bus," she said. "When we looked at our (tourism) regions, and we consider our regional partners so important to the whole tourism market -- when we looked at funding, we wanted to so something different. We wanted to give you a certain amount of money beyond your budget for something you always wanted to do, but just didn't have the budget. They all came together doing this (Epic Iowa Road Trip) and many other things."
She added, "I think this is a great way to showcase Iowa. There are so many gems all across Iowa. Senator Grassley says, behind every cornfield there's a manufacturing place. That's true, and I also believe behind every cornfield is a tourism destination.
"Tourism is big business for Iowa. That's what we're here to do connect the dots and tell people they don't have to travel very far to experience some incredible amenities and meet great folks. "
Shirley Phillips, Western Iowa Tourism director, thanked all of the people who help Iowa tourism thrive.
"All of our destinations help make our state stronger," she said. "We're here to recognize the staff, the volunteers, the board, the countless people that make all of our attractions and communities a great place to live."
Deb Hite, Emmetsburg Chamber Director, gave her thanks to Wild Rose for making Emmetsburg a destination.
"Because of the Wild Rose, coupled with the other places we have in town, we are a destination," said Deb. "Palo Alto County is now up to the level of 30th in the state as far as tourism income."
The Epic Iowa Road Trip was a partnership among the Central Iowa Tourism Region, Eastern Iowa Tourism Association, Western Iowa Tourism Region and Iowa Tourism Office to promote tourism destinations in the state and raise awareness of tourism's impact on Iowa's economy.
State and regional tourism officials recognized communities on the route for the contributions to the Iowa Tourism Industry and the state's economy. In 2012, tourism-related expenditures in Palo Alto County were $34.12 million.