Tourism ideas flourishing at Little Falls Convention and Visitors Bureau

During the holiday season, Linden Hill is lit up on the outside and the Weyerhaeuser and Musser homes decorated on the inside for “Christmas in the Mansions” tours. This year the annual event will run Nov. 23 through Dec. 2.

Tours and overnight events planned for winter months

By Jennie ZeitlerStaff Writer

Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) Director Kris VonBerge was asked to put together group tours when she started her job in April. Ideas for group tours have been percolating in her mind ever since.

Following the successful summer historic bike tours, VonBerge and new CVB Administrative Assistant Aimee Tholen have been assembling holiday and winter tours and overnight events.

“We’re going to local restaurants, local businesses and local attractions, lining up possibilities for the first tour Saturday, Dec. 1,” VonBerge said. “After that, we’ll start doing two tour events per month, different days of the week.”

The Dec. 1 tour will include, among other things, Christmas Tree Lane at the Minnesota Fishing Museum and the Sixth Annual Christmas at Linden Hill.

VonBerge wants to advertise in 31 different cities in the Metro area and north of the Metro, with tens of thousands of readers of shoppers and local newspapers. These areas are within driving distance of Little Falls for a day tour, or to stay overnight and enjoy Little Falls for a weekend.

A “man tour” is being put together offering options men might be more interested in, such as a wild game feast at Rice Creek Hunting and tours of Larson Boats, the Fishing Museum, the Camp Ripley Museum and a full tour of the environmental room at Camp Ripley — complete with the more than 300 animal displays, each with a legend.

The biggest event of the season is planned for President’s Day Weekend, Feb. 15-18.

“The Waller House, Linden Hill and local motels are on board for lodging that weekend,” said VonBerge. “I talked to motor coach operators and more than 100 vendors from around the state at an Explore Minnesota show in Prior Lake about bringing tours up here.”

There will be no set itinerary for guests to follow, but many options for how to fill their time will be offered.

The CVB is utilizing the Internet and Facebook for further reaching out to prospective visitors. “We are making the Web site fun for everyone as we continually add new things,” VonBerge said.

There is a self-guided tour of Little Falls online, for those who are not able to visit.

In the meantime and coming up very soon, is a Pub Crawl scheduled for Friday, Nov. 2.

Shortly after Tholen started with the CVB in September, she saw a huge stock of orange T-shirts in the back and saw an opportunity to market Little Falls.

Eleven local venues were recruited to participate in the Pub Crawl from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., Nov. 2. There will be a registration at each location for any person wearing the Pub Crawl orange T-shirt.

The grand prize includes an overnight package at the Grand Casino with buffet for two, a variety of gift certificates, two tickets for a Nov. 10 Isacco Colombo concert at Sacred Heart Chapel, and a selection of adult beverages. A person must be 21 to buy one of the orange T-shirts which are sold for $10.

“We will be partnering with the new Sober Ride business in Little Falls,” said VonBerge. Sober Ride offers those out socializing safe rides during and at the end of their evening.

VonBerge would like to welcome Tholen. “We work together as office partners and bounce ideas off each other,” VonBerge said. “She has such a great business background and office experience, and is pleasant and fun — with great ideas and skills both.”

“I’m finding grant money out there for advertising and marketing,” she said. “If someone said, ‘Kris, go find people,’ that’s what I’m trying to do.”

She has distributed brochures at 106 locations from the Minneapolis Airport up I-94 and I-35, at Twin City attractions and some major businesses.

VonBerge is looking for community volunteers to welcome guests at a local “meet and greet” gathering during the tours.

For more information, call (320) 616-4959.