Region prepared to welcome visitors


With an estimated 139,000 to 556,000 visitors expected to come to Ohio to witness the total solar eclipse, area officials wanted to be ready to roll out the welcome mat.

Officials with visitor centers and chambers of commerce in the region discussed what tourists should expect in April for this once-in-a-lifetime event.

“With eclipse events happening throughout the area from Friday, April 5 through Monday, April 8, we anticipate a lot of people will be coming into the county over the course of the weekend leading up to the eclipse,” said Leiann Stewart, executive director of the Miami County Visitors Bureau.

Officials in Shelby County anticipate a record number of people visiting that weekend.

“If attendance projections are correct, and 50,000 guests come to Shelby County to view the eclipse on April 8, tourism that day will ‘eclipse’ the largest single days attendance of our Country Concert,” said Jeff Raible, president of the Sidney-Shelby County Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau.

In Allen County, estimates could call for up to 100,000 visitors. That meant preparing a place for all those people to stay, said Jed Metzger, president of the Lima/Allen County Chamber of Commerce.

“We encouraged and marketed to the region and state to book their hotel rooms early. We promoted the State of Ohio’s tagline to plan ‘“To Arrive Early and Stay Late,’” Metzger said. “We identified places for people to camp, park, activities for the solar eclipse happening in our community, market the appropriate glasses to wear for the solar eclipse and many other opportunities to view the solar eclipse.”

There will be special events throughout the weekend before the eclipse for locals and out-of-town visitors. Organizations put together websites and Facebook pages to share the information, such as or Lima’s

They’re also helping drive traffic to fun spots along the way, said Jackie Martel, executive director of the Wapakoneta Area Chamber of Commerce.

“We have some 20 restaurants and bars and eateries and especially the ice cream shops, too, are popular on the moon menu trail,” Martel said. “They all feature space-themed food, drinks and sweets.”

More information about the moon shop restaurants can be found at

“The state tourism and emergency management has been working with Auglaize County, as well as all the counties in Ohio that are in the path of totality for well over a year. And that was one of their biggest recommendations to help with the traffic management was to ensure that there were plenty of reasons to come early and stay late,” Martel said.

The local visitor centers and area chambers of commerce hope this event is memorable for all who visit the area.

“When you come to Wapakoneta, you get that extra flair of being in Moon City. This is really what we do,” Martel said. We have a Summer Moon Festival every year that brings thousands to the area. So we do know how to have very thematic types of activities for people to enjoy of all ages, really.”

Miami County officials think people will enjoy their time there, Stewart said.

“Our hope is that they will want to come back to spend more time with us in the future at our attractions, museums, parks, restaurants, and shops,” Stewart said. “Miami County is very friendly and hospitable, and we have a lot to offer people coming to our community.”

It’s a real opportunity to put Shelby County’s best foot forward, Raible said.

“For several years now, our chamber has been working to shape public opinion that Shelby County is a great place to work and a community of choice for residency. Most new residents in our fine community were visitors first. It’s the realization that sustains our focus when marketing Shelby County for leisure-time tourism,” Raible said. “Pray for clear skies and lots of sunshine. April 8 has the potential to be spectacular in many ways.”

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