Economic Impact of Bicentennial Events Featured

On Friday afternoon Lake Erie Shores and Islands West executive director Larry Fletcher gave a presentation revealing the economic impact of the Battle of Lake Erie Bicentennial events. To preface the presentation of data, Fletcher asked Chairmen of the Perry Group’s Bicentennial Committee Dave Zavagno to say a few words. Fletcher spoke great praise of Zavagno saying he is the one who had the vision and brought everything together.

“The vision we had started four years ago,” said Zavagno, “how can we celebrate as a region and bring the western basin together along with the United States and Canada?” He went on to say that it was great to see that the communities did come together for the event and it was a great feat to bring national prominence to the area.

As a token of appreciation, Zavango presented Fletcher and Julene Market, Miller Boat Line and Marketing, a tall ships print from the Battle of Lake Erie reenactment.

Left to Right: Dave Zavagno, Julene Market and Larry Fletcher

Fletcher called the Battle of Lake Erie Bicentennial events the “largest multi community event ever in the Lake Erie western basin”. The event invited people to learn about our area and to show people how great this area is. “We definitely accomplished that,” said Fletcher. The event has had a lasting media impact which invites visitors to remember the western Lake Erie basin.

Miller Boat Line set an all time record for passenger transportation to Put-In-Bay on September 1, 2013. Market said, commenting on the record, “Everyone was happy about the event. We were busy but we were also prepared. Happy visitors led to a happy event.”

Peter Huston, a director/producer for Film Affects who produced the Battle of Lake Erie bicentennial reenactment documentary, “We liked the people who came to this area for the event. They were appreciative of the history.”

The following data is relative to Battle of Lake Erie bicentennial spending in Ottawa County and Kelleys Island in Erie County between the dates of August 29-September 10, 2013. Figures are based on actual visitor ticket sale counts provided by the various Unites States port communities and conservative estimates on number of hotel, bed and breakfast, vacation rental room nights and campground occupancy. 

Visitor spending calculations are based on the Ohio Office of Tourism’s 2013 multiplier of $108 a day for a day trip visitor and $321 a day for an overnight visitor.

Total visitor spending for Aug 29-Sept 10 was $14.6 million.

•7,150 total room nights at hotels, bed and breakfasts or vacation rentals
•4,500 nights at campground sites (not included in overnight spending calculations)
•4,500 nights that marina slips were in use (not included in overnight spending calculations)
•100,000 total bicentennial related visitors overall

Individual Community Data

Catawba Island Club

•Private club with tall ship events available to members
•Sold out well in advance
•All business segments at club (restaurants, golf course, and marina) recognized at least 25% increase in business activity Labor Day weekend over same time period in 2012
•100 room nights

Kelleys Island

•360 day sail tickets sold
•Kelleys Island Ferry ran four boats on continuous schedule over Labor Day weekend
•Recognized as the largest island-wide event ever held
•Most businesses acknowledged a 15-20% increase in Labor Day weekend business over 2012 levels for the same period
•1,100 room nights
•2000 people attended programs on September 10


•Had no tall ships
•2,000 attended Navy Band concert at Lakeside on Sept. 1
•300 attended Navy Band concert at Marblehead Lighthouse on Sept. 1
•900 room nights over Labor Day weekend

Middle Bass Island

•All island businesses reported sales at record levels
•Cost of ship was covered by sponsors so dockside tours were free of charge to public
•100 tickets at $70 for private dinner on tall ship
•All ship tours sold out
•50 room nights

Port Clinton

•Over 3,000 ship tour tickets sold at $10 each
•30,000 total visitors over Labor Day weekend
•7000-8000 attended OSU Band on Sept. 1
•3000 attended Navy Band on Sept. 1
•The Lake Erie Shores & Islands Welcome Center tracked 2291 visitors through its doors the week leading up to Labor Day 2013, nearly three times the number of visitors for the same time period in 2012
•Bassett’s Market, that promoted its Port Clinton store as a headquarters for bicentennial related information and merchandise was up 27% in sales over Labor Day weekend 2012
•Many other businesses reported sales at record levels
•2000 room nights (only considering Labor Day weekend in calculations)


•More than 7500 people participated in dockside or sail away tours
•More than 1400 registered to take part in the battle reenactment
•2000 room nights over Labor Day weekend
•1000 room nights Sept 6-10

Perry’s Monument

•Visitation to monument column Memorial Day through Sept. 10 was 60% greater than same time period in 2012 despite a shorter operating season in 2013
•Gross sales in the bookstore Memorial Day through Sept. 10 were 150% higher than the same time period in 2012
•Estimated 7000 people attended OSU band on Sept. 1

Jet Express

Passenger count Labor Day weekend, 2013 up 60% over same period in 2012

Miller Ferry

Set an all time record for passenger transportation to Put-In-Bay on Sept. 1

People from all over the country and all over the world attended the bicentennial events in our area. Documented, people came from: Alaska, California, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Washington D.C., Wisconsin, Wyoming, Canada, England, Germany and Italy.

Lake Erie Shores & Islands West also conducted a tourism partner survey which asked businesses questions relative to the bicentennial events. Some of the questions were:

Did your business have a positive impact from the events?

62% yes
7% no
31% no answer

Did the events impact the profits of your business?

59% yes
0% no
41% no answer

Would you want to bring back the tall ship event?

88% yes
1% no
11% no answer

Based on all of the information and opinions gathered, Fletcher said it is probable that our area would invest in bringing back the tall ships.

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