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Take Off for Dayton, Ohio

Photo Courtesy Dayton/Montgomery County CVB

A conversation with Heather Ivers, sales and tourism coordinator, Dayton/Montgomery County Convention and Visitors Bureau

Location and Size:
Dayton is at the “Crossroads of America,” the intersection of Interstate 70 East/West and Interstate 75 North/South. The city has a population of 150,000; the greater metropolitan area has a population of more than a half million.

What is distinctive about your area?
We are truly the birthplace of aviation, as Wilbur and Orville Wright grew up and spent their lives in Dayton. It was here they tinkered with the notion of powered flight, experimented with the concepts of lift and drag, and built wind tunnels. They built their first planes in Dayton and had their first flight school and factory in Dayton.

What are the main group attractions in your area?

The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, the world’s largest and oldest military aviation museum, features more than 400 aircraft displays. View hot-air balloons, a Wright brothers plane, the world’s only permanent public display of the B-2 Stealth bomber and several presidential planes, including the one that flew President John F. Kennedy’s body back from Dallas after he was assassinated. Bank groups can also watch a film in the IMAX theater and peruse the gift shop, which includes the largest aviation bookstore in the country.

Through a variety of sites, the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park tells the story of three legendary Daytonians: the Wright brothers and their childhood friend Paul Laurence Dunbar, the first recognized African American author and poet laureate.

   Courtesy Dayton/Montgomery County CVB

The Wright Cycle Company and Wright-Dunbar Interpretive Center highlights the brothers’ work on flight until their successful invention in 1903.

At Carillon Historical Park, groups view the original 1905 Wright Flyer II, the world’s first practical airplane and the only plane to have the honor of being named a National Historic Landmark.

At the Huffman Prairie Flying Field and Interpretive Center, groups can stand on the ground where the Wright brothers perfected flight and really learned to fly and where they operated the world’s first flight school. This humble pasture is where flight began yet is a stone’s throw from the Wright Patterson Air Force Base tarmac, where today, jets and cargo planes take off on a regular basis.

Another Dayton favorite is the Citizens Motor Car Company: America’s Packard Museum, the world’s only restored Packard dealership operating as a museum, featuring more than 50 automobiles in a restored art-deco showroom.

The Wright B Flyer introduces groups to a replica hangar and aircraft in tribute to the famous brothers.

Dayton also offers ballet, opera, Broadway productions and local theater.

What’s new in your area?
The majestic Wright family mansion, Hawthorn Hill, has been opened for the first time for public tours. The interior space features original furnishings, including Orville Wright’s personal study. Plans are under way to incorporate the mansion into the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Park sites.

Where are some great places to get a taste of your area?
Don’t miss El Meson. This popular restaurant features the Castro family and their Hispanic-fusion offerings, like mojitos and tapas. For the first two weeks of the year, the restaurant closes so the family can venture out to find new recipes in tasty, worldwide destinations.

Esther Price, the founder of Ester Price Candy Shops, began making candy in her kitchen to help make ends meet during the Depression. New owners have carried on her traditional recipes, using only the finest premium ingredients with no preservatives. Groups can satisfy their sweet tooth at four locations, and although the choice of goodies seems endless, a favorite is the chocolate-covered Mike-sell’s Groovy Potato Chips.

Groups can also tour the source of that sweet and salty crunch at the Mike-sell’s Potato Chip factory, the oldest potato chip company in the United States and one of the few that produces chips cooked in peanut oil.

Is there an annual event or time of year that a bank group should consider in planning a trip to your area?
Dayton offers something for everyone year-round; however, our most popular visitation seasons are spring, summer and fall. Here’s a listing of Dayton/Montgomery County events for 2010.

June 25 — The Freedom’s Call Military Tattoo. This free event on the grounds of the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force features fireworks, top-name entertainment and aircraft flyovers.

July 17-18 — The Vectren Dayton Air Show. This show features the U.S. Navy Blue Angels jet team in a display of speed and precision. Special performances include the U.S. Army Golden Nights, aerobatic pilots and a World War II Tora Tora demonstration.

September 10-12 — The Greek Festival. Enjoy a weekend of food, music and traditional dance at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church.

September 17 — Urban Nights. Groups can see performances at more than 100 locations all around downtown.

September 19 — Dayton Concours d’Elegance at Carillon Historical Park.  A classic and antique automobile event offers live entertainment and an art show.

September 24-26 — Oktoberfest. Groups can enjoy entertainment, art and ice-cold beer on the grounds of the Dayton Art Institute.

What is one surprising thing people will find in your area?

  Courtesy Dayton/Montgomery County CVB

Few people know that more than 800 years ago, the Fort Ancient Indians settled here along the banks of the Great Miami River. Today, visitors can experience SunWatch Indian

Village/Archaeological Park, a reconstructed Indian village. The park features guided tours and festivals and is also home to a museum and archaeological site.

November 26 — Grande Illumination and Dayton Children’s Parade. This downtown festival includes a parade and lighting of the tree on Courthouse Square.

What is one souvenir everyone should bring back from your area?
And the winner is a Wilbear Wright aviator teddy bear. He is an adorable reminder of the Birthplace of Aviation. Check out our Web site or give us a call to find out how everyone in your group can take one home for free.

Are there any special programs and services for groups in your area?
• Meet and greet with welcome bags that include pertinent information, a fun gift and a tour operator gift. Contact our sales and tourism coordinator before your group’s arrival.

• A collection of hotel bid proposals and a comprehensive recap of your accommodation options

• Assistance identifying group-friendly restaurants and coordinating shop-arounds or dine-arounds

• Assistance with obtaining step-on guides

• Images and videos from our Web site and via requests to our offices

• Themed tour itineraries available on our Web site or special tour itineraries customized for your group’s interests

• Contact information for local charters, receptive operators and bus-cleaning services

• Site visits and familiarization tours to help bank leaders experience Dayton firsthand

• Additional services on request

Tell us a favorite story about the area.

At the beginning of the 20th century, Dayton hosted more patents per capita than any city in the United States. Inventions such as the airplane, refrigeration, the electric car starter, the pop-top can, the cash register, the ice cube tray and the mood ring all originated in Dayton.

This can-do spirit is highlighted by the Wright B Flyer at the Dayton Wright Brothers Airport. Imagine what the Wright Brothers would think of the volunteer group who, through sweat, determination and a dream, came together to build a 1911 Wright B Military Flyer look-alike, which has flown around the Statue of Liberty, at the Rose Bowl Parade and at the annual Dayton Air Show.

Visitors can take a brief flight in the Wright B Flyer and perhaps experience a bit of the sensation the Wright Brothers felt in the early 1900s.

Those who feel safer on the ground can fly the plane at flight simulators that allow for a spin.

Heather Ivers
Sales and Tourism Coordinator
Dayton/Montgomery County Convention and Visitors Bureau
(937) 226-8292
(800) 221-8235, ext. 292