FORT WAYNE – A summer that brought extreme drought, horrendous temperatures and humidity, punctuated by hurricane-force winds, also brought scads of tourists to Fort Wayne, officials said.
I think most of Fort Waynes visitor venues had a great summer, even with the unusually hot season, said Dan OConnell, president of Visit Fort Wayne.
Grand Wayne Center hosted 18 conventions and conferences in June, July and August, drawing more than 10,000 people, including more than 3,000 for the Indiana Democratic Convention.
Attendees at the National Fishing Lure Convention were so impressed by Fort Wayne they rebooked for 2014 before their convention was even over, officials said.
Memorial Coliseum could have its best year ever, officials said, and the Gold Wing gathering drew more than 7,500.
Fort Wayne Childrens Zoo Director Jim Anderson reported that despite the heat and storms, attendance topped 440,000 with a few weeks to go, up 6 percent over last year.
The TinCaps had 18 sellouts, made the playoffs for a fourth year and had big attendance at Parkview Field for the Bob Dylan concert and the Indiana-Notre Dame soccer game.
Science Central had a great summer despite the Clinton Street bridge construction, officials said, with summer attendance well over last years figures.
IPFWs Riverfest continued to grow, drawing more than 20,000 people this year. While Three Rivers Festival attendance appeared to be down slightly because of the weather, the festival still drew thousands of people to Fort Wayne, as did various fairs and special events, such as Buskerfest and Taste of the Arts.
Capping it was the first air show in Fort Wayne in 13 years that drew more than 80,000.
On the sports side, the PGA Juniors National Championships drew more than 1,000 people and the National Soccer Festival attracted 11,000.
But the number that excited OConnell the most was hotel occupancy, which in July hit its highest mark ever – 70.4 percent.
Our Hoosier hospitality pays off for us, because groups like the Gold Wings had a really good time, he said.
And after people visit, OConnell said, they tend to be impressed.
We find many times the reaction from people is their expectations are exceeded, he said. They visit the zoo, see a concert or go to a sports tournament at Spiece Fieldhouse, and Wow is a pretty common reaction.