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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, June 10, 2018 1:00 am

Strange calls a part of job

Rebecca Sippel | For The Journal Gazette

Working at the Whitley County Visitors Center, Carol Flowers is used to responding to requests for phone books and maps.

But every now and then, a phone call throws her for a loop.

“Somebody wanted us to get a raccoon out of their alley,” Flowers laughed. “That is probably our weirdest thing, because we don't do raccoons or alleys or anything like that.”

Strange phone calls seem to be a trend at northeast Indiana's visitors centers and bureaus. June Julien, executive director of the Steuben County Tourism Bureau, said she has received some unusual requests of her own.

Expecting to answer a question about activities to do in Steuben County, Julien received one instead regarding unpasteurized goat's milk.

After trying her best to help the caller, her search was brought to a halt.

“We made some phone calls and told them no such luck because, guess what? It's illegal to sell unpasteurized goat's milk,” Julien said.

Dan O'Connell, president and CEO of Visit Fort Wayne, has learned to expect such unique requests. He said people have asked about the Amish enough times that his group came up with a specific response.

“We direct them to our neighbors in Grabill,” O'Connell said. “We have a particular route we send them so they can observe the horses that work in the farms.”

Tina Bobilya, executive director of the DeKalb County Visitors Bureau, said she also receives all sorts of unusual calls, one of which concerned the county's pollen count.

Bobilya said the DeKalb County Visitors Bureau's website and social media accounts are all resources for finding interesting things to do in the area. But coming in or talking to someone on the phone is the best way to find personalized activities.

Regardless of their approach, Bobilya said people should always look for an official visitors bureau to help plan their trip.

“They really are the clearinghouse for everything,” Bobilya said. “There is a lot of stuff on Google, but from a visitors bureau perspective, it is not necessarily accurate or reflects the true tourism for the area. So I would go directly to the source because they can give you suggestions, and it makes your trip a lot better and more streamlined.”