Friday, November 9, 2012

Island CTA representatives off on a lark last Wednesday:   Jim Rose,
Christy Davidson, Bill Nauta,  Dick Purinton, Mary Andersen,
(in front) Carol Stayton and Ann Rose.
Washington Island, Wisconsin -

The sun was trying hard to shine Wednesday morning when the above photo was taken in front of the Visitor Center.  By noon clouds had filled in and rain began to fall.  We've seen lots of clouds and rain recently, with much cooler temperatures.   Still, we're happy to receive the moisture, and it comes without hurricane-force winds experienced in the northeast.

The purpose of Wednesday's adventures was to familiarize ourselves with businesses and attractions in Door County, to be better Tourism Ambassadors by absorbing "ongoing education." This also leads into the annual CTA re-certification.  The CTA moniker means "Certified Tourism Ambassador." When a visitor center at Norhtport was developed two years, the Ferry Line and the Island Chamber of Commerce decided training might be a good thing, through instilling a consistent and professional manner in which we can apply our knowledge of Door County when serving visitors.  Members of the group shown above work in the Northport Visitor Center, but two are also Ferry Line ticket sales people.   Each of them makes thousands of contacts with visitors in a few months' time.  (There were also several others who were unable to make the trip with us.)

The Tourism Ambassador program, a national program, was brought to Door County by the Door County Visitor Bureau.   Short, four-hour classes are designed to give workers in the local tourism industry a framework for behavior and attitude when serving customers.  An important benefit, in my opinion, comes from the added emphasis on being well-versed, not only in Washington Island information, but for other parts of Door County.   And if the many other Door County CTAs are equally well-rounded, they will be knowledgeable in northern Door and Washington Island information, too.   This concept recognizes the need to be supportive of the Door County Tourism as a whole, large and small businesses and attractions.

Bob Purman gave a short course in the production of
hard cider at his Ellison Bay facility.
Our first stop Wednesday was at Bob and Yannique Purman's ISLAND ORCHARD brand hard cider production plant and tasting room.  Apple varieties known to be superior for making hard cider are grown on Washington Island, then crushed by the Seaquist Orchard press.   Juice is then made into hard cider, currently four different cider products, with at least a six-month fermentation period.  All but a few cases of this year's harvest were left at the plant, but more juice was expected the following day, along with a shipment of yeast.  Hard cider is a labor of love for the Purman's.  While their product has met with solid success thus far in a limited market, their initial investments in land, orchard, equipment, buildings, machinery and in the labor to produce the hard cider product has yet to be offset by revenues.   Their product is an excellent one, our taste testing told us, and it highlights Door County and Washington Island.  Besides it provides additional income for local labor (including Dan Nerenhausen's crew who tends the orchard, helps pick apples, etc.)

Stop #2 was Evergreen School, and we were hosted by its imaginative and creative owner, Karin Overbeck. The visual experience is so unexpected for the first-time visitor that it is impossible to properly describe it here in one, short paragraph.

Our group posed with Karin Overbeck (red vest)in one of her many garden areas on the Evergreen School grounds, 
on County TT east of Sturgeon Bay. 
Karin's combination of artwork and plantings is more than
can be aptly described here in a paragraph.

Our third major stop was the Door County Historical Museum, a gem of a museum right under our nose, so-to-speak.

How many times have we driven past the limestone building on the corner of 4th and Michigan in Sturgeon Bay without noticing it, on our way to the post office, Younkers or the bank?

Its a terrific place to spend an hour or two (closed now for the season except for one special Christmas date in December) with no entry fees.  This facility and is funded by the taxpayers of Door County and through donations, so we ought to take advantage of it more often.  My last Door county Museum visit, I admit, was in 1979 when I borrowed the wooden ship's wheel from the original steam ferry Robert Noble.  That was when Otis Trodahl was museum curator and before a major museum remodeling took place!  They are ready for another expansion today, Maggie Weir and Ann Jinkins, informed us, with more visitors and a few large donors being the major roadblocks.

-  Dick Purinton

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