Tourism Director talks return to normal
Tourism Director Andrew Potter is seeing a return to normal for Marshalltown after a year marred by a pandemic.
Sporting events, large gatherings, meetings and conferences highlight a turning of the corner in terms of tourism for the city.
“People are getting back together face to face. They’re getting to do things more normally,” Potter said. “I’m really looking forward to some of the events we have going on in August and September. We have other community events that have been picking back up.”
Some larger events have already been held earlier this month. On May 1, an AAU volleyball tournament was held throughout the city including the Veterans Memorial Coliseum. On May 8, the Blessing of the Bikes returned for its 25th year, marking one of the largest events to be held since the start of the pandemic.
Looking ahead there is more to come, highlighted particularly by sports.
“Throughout the pandemic we’ve worked with a lot of sports groups. We have a nice niche there as far as the facilities we have in town,” Potter said. “In June we have a big tennis meet coming; adult softball; Winter Classic is coming; we have a disc golf event in June. As the rest of the country is opening up there’s some encouraging things coming.”
The tennis meet Potter referred to, the Marshalltown Open L6 USTA Tournament, will be held at the newly opened 12-court tennis complex at Marshalltown High School, June 29-30. The complex was constructed with hopes of attracting events such as larger meets and tournaments. It was unveiled to the public in late October 2020.
“We have to find our niche where we can. We don’t have major tourist attractions,” Potter said. “Sporting events have been great for our local economy, our hotels, our retail shops. We continue to focus on ways to support these various groups.”
Speaking of supporting Marshalltown, the chamber does so by offering grants to local organizations and events. It put up a $2,500 grant toward the annual Fourth of July fireworks show at the Central Iowa Fairgrounds. It also granted $5,000 for the Central Iowa Fair which returns July 14-17.
“That’s just a way to support the entities that bring people into town and make it easier on them to host people and continue to bring people into town,” Potter said.
The chamber is always looking for more ways to attract people to town. It has drawn a lot of attention to what’s going on in Marshalltown by creating video content. This spring, it had a particularly popular video with Parks and Recreation Director Geoff Hubbard showcasing the revamped Veterans Memorial Coliseum, which received thousands of views.
Potter plans to continue utilizing video content to show off the town and even profile some of its citizens.
“To try and tell the story of livability is a huge thing we’re working on in Marshalltown,” he said. “We want to draw people in to visit. We also want to show people it’s a great place to live, work and play. That’s what our focus is on. I’m a big fan of promoting pride within. That’s a story that needs to be told.”
The chamber has been supported by the city, with the city allotting 67-percent of hotel/motel tax toward the chamber for promotion and tourism. The city council will make a decision on the chamber’s funding for the next fiscal year during its next council meeting on June 14.