What’s new in state tourism? It’s all wet

The annual Governor’s Conference on Tourism always is a good place to hear the buzz about the newest projects and partnerships that are designed to heighten the exposure of tourism in Wisconsin.

A few of the ideas are all wet or just brewing. That’s an observation, not a judgment. For example:

Looking for the right type of waterfront vacation? Now there’s a new tool to help: LakePlace.com, which lists Wisconsin and Minnesota lake property that is for sale, plus shoreline resorts and cabins that are for rent.

It is a relatively new enterprise, and the concept is a logical match for this part of the country.

You can opt to be notified about new listings. Want to buy? Use the online mortgage calculator, to get a reality check. Want to sell? Ads can be placed here, too. A single listing for one month is $19; for a year, it’s $99.

For more, call (612) 366-4457 or go to www.lakeplace.com.

“My pants are from China, my shoes are from China, my china is from England … and my beer is from Monroe,” says Warren Nelson of Big Top Chautauqua. That’s his wacky way of expressing delight about gaining the Joseph Huber Brewing Co. as a sponsor for his public radio broadcasts.

Big Top Chautauqua’s Tent Show Radio programs are recorded live during summer, under a tent near Bayfield, and they typically feature nationally known entertainers (Earl Scruggs to Arlo Guthrie this year). Steve Preston of Huber Brewing, Monroe, says the company likely will add show information to beer cartons.

“Nothin’ Else Like It!” is the brewer’s slogan, which Warren thinks is a good fit for his enterprise, too. For more about the Big Top Chautauqua season, go to www.bigtop.org or call (888) 244-8368. Times, days and stations that carry the broadcasts also are listed online.

I tend to yak a lot about being from Sheboygan County, but that doesn’t always make me an expert about the place. My newest revelation: The surfing is good there. Who knew?

Corona is sponsoring this year’s Dairyland Surf Classic, held off the shores of Lake Michigan, and that beer brewer’s bucks are expected to elevate the event’s exposure.

Waves can reach 24 feet, says Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine. So what if you have to wear a wet suit during most of the year, to avoid hypothermia?

“Two challenges to surfing the Great Lakes is that the water is less buoyant than saltwater and the waves usually break more frequently than in the ocean,” the magazine notes.

For more about the event or the surfing conditions, go to www.greatlakesurfing.com or call (920) 457-1209.

Want to get wet before the heat of summer arrives? Country Springs Hotel, Waukesha, this month opened a new, 45,000-square-foot indoor waterpark. Among the features: an enclosed, two-person tube ride; a high-speed, three-person boat ride; and a bodyslide.

There’s also an arcade for the kids and cocktail service for adults. Mention the code “splash” when you make a reservation and get $20 off of the room rate.

For more, call (800) 247-6640 or go to www.thespringswaterpark.com.

One of the latest efforts in niche magazine marketing is “Wisconsin Bride,” the slick and twice yearly endeavor of Tiger Oak Publications in Minneapolis.

Wisconsin is the third state to get its own magazine for brides (Minnesota and Arizona were the first). The debut issue is gushing with ads from all around the state, plus state-specific advice about how to tie the knot in grand fashion.

There are personal stories, too, like Madison TV anchor Toya Washington’s tale of falling for her guy on the golf course. She also talks about her August 2004 wedding – what was where, and why.

“Wisconsin Bride” is for sale at newsstands. For more, go to www.wibride.com. The fall-winter issue will be available in July.

“From Sails to Steam: Early Water Passage to and from Door County” opens April 2 at the Door County Maritime Museum. It is a major undertaking, with the goal of showing what it was like to ride or work on the water from 1850-1930.

Dioramas, photos and artifacts are extensive. A 40-minute video both documents the era and puts a personal spin on it. Interiors of ships have been re-created for visitors to walk through.

This is a major exhibit that will be in place until January 2007. For more, call (920) 743-5958 or go to www.dcmm.org.

It’s taking a while for people in the tourism business to warm up to the new state tourism slogan, “Wisconsin: Life’s So Good.”

“It’s a declaration, a ‘state of being’ instead of a call to action,” notes Kathleen Galas of the Manitowoc Area Visitor & Convention Bureau. She was comparing it to the near-instant success of the “Escape to Wisconsin” slogan. That one’s way past tense, we know.

One thing it would be fun to see more of is the new line of windshield stickers that made their debut at this month’s state tourism conference. There were nine varieties, each carrying the slogan in a different language (Arabic, Japanese, Chinese, English, Italian, German, French, Polish and Hebrew).

What good is that? The stickers also have the state’s name and tourism web address (www.travelwisconsin.com) in bold (English) letters.