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ON T H E M A G A Z I N E F O R FAITH-BASED TRAVEL PLANNERS VOL. 22 - NO. 2

SPRING 2019

SOUTHERN

TRAVEL GUIDE

PICTURE YOURSELF

IN

P O RT U G A L

J O U R N E Y TO

CANTON

CRUISE T RENDS


MORE MORE CHOICE ON TOUR – CHOICE ON TOUR – MORE MORE FREEDOM TO FREEDOM TO

EXPLORE EXPLORE

When your group chooses to travel with Collette When your group chooses to travel with Collette during the Christmas season, you’ll get to see during the Christmas season, you’ll get to see how incredible destinations are transformed by how incredible destinations are transformed by the spirit of the holidays. Collette guests get to the spirit of the holidays. Collette guests get to skip the long lines and are given exclusive tickets skip the long lines and are given exclusive tickets to many festive events –such as the Christmas to many festive events –such as the Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall. Now is Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall. Now is the time for your guests to experience the most the time for your guests to experience the most iconic and spirited destinations in the world. iconic and spirited destinations in the world.

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Plan your visit at ArkEncounter.com Williamstown, K Y (south of Cincinnati)


GOF

THE MAGAZINE F O R FA I T H - B A S E D T R AV E L

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A Portrait of Portugal

This seaside country is full of important religious sites.

[ SPRING 2019 ]

16 20 New in Cruising

The Road to Canton

This Ohio city draws football fans and faith-based travelers.

Cruise lines welcome groups with updated ships and trips.

DEPARTMENTS Columns 6 EDITOR’S NOTES: Finding Truth in Children’s Books ON THE COVER: A traveler explores Praia do Camilo, one of the most beautiful spots on the beaches of Lagos, Portugal. Photo by Olimpio Fantuz

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Spotlights

News

8 CONFERENCE: FAMs and sightseeing tours will showcase this Going On Faith Conference host city.

10 INDUSTRY NEWS Kentucky Derby Museum completes large expansion

SOUTHERN

TRAVEL GUIDE 24 Culinary Experiences 28 Faith-Based Attractions 32 Southern Retreats

14 PROFILE: Dick Perl

Mac T. Lacy Founder and Publisher

Herb Sparrow Senior Writer

Christine Clough Copy Editor

Charles A. Presley Partner

Donia Simmons Creative Director

Brian Jewell Executive Editor

Ashley Ricks Graphic Design/ Circulation

Kelly Tyner Director of Sales and Marketing

Eliza Myers Online Editor

Kyle Anderson Account Manager Daniel Jean-Louis Account Manager

Going On Faith is published quarterly by THE GROUP TRAVEL LEADER, Inc., 301 East High Street, Lexington, Kentucky 40507, and is distributed free of charge to qualified group leaders who plan travel for churches, synagogues and religious organizations. All other travel suppliers, including tour operators, destinations, attractions, transportation companies, hotels, restaurants, and other travel-related companies, may subscribe to Going On Faith by sending a check for $39 for one year to: Going On Faith, Circulation Department, 301 East High Street, Lexington, KY 40507. Phone: (859) 253-0455 or (859) 253-0503. Copyright THE GROUP TRAVEL LEADER, Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction of editorial or graphic content in any manner without the written consent of the publisher is prohibited.


Bethany Beyond the

Jordan “I baptize with water,’ John replied, ‘but among you stands one you do not know. He is the one who comes after me, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.’ This all happened at Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptizing.” - The Gospel of John 1:26-28

Learn more about Holy Jordan and pilgrimages to Jordan at HolyJordan.com.

MyJordanJourney

@VisitJordan_NA

MyJordanJourney

@visitjordan


EDITOR’S

NOTES BRIAN JEWELL

FINDING TRUTH IN CHILDREN’S BOOKS

N

obody else can do your job the way you do. And that’s a good thing. One of the most enjoyable things about being a dad is reading books to my kids. My daughter, Daisy, will turn 5 this spring, and my son, Liam, will be 3 years old in June. So we spend a lot of time reading children’s books. And the content of those books I read them every evening is very different than what I read to myself throughout the day. Kids’ books are amazing for a host of reasons. First, the pictures add so much to the reading experience. In the books my kids enjoy, the illustrations range from silly to sublime, and I find myself appreciating the artwork now in a way I never could have as a child. I also love reading these books because they are full of boundless creativity and some really extraordinary writing. It doesn’t matter who sits atop the adult bestseller list; I would put Dr. Seuss up against them any day. Reading a kids’ book can instantly transport me back to my childhood. I have fond memories of my parents and grandparents reading me classics like “Blueberries for Sal” and “Make Way for Ducklings.” Now, I read those same books to Daisy and Liam. But more than all this, I love that children’s books are so uplifting. These short stories are often packed full of wisdom, encouragement and empowering messages. I often read things to my kids that I, myself, need to hear. Among the most powerful messages in

my kids’ books is the extraordinary importance of each person’s uniqueness. One of our favorite books, “On the Night You Were Born,” puts it this way: “Never before in story or rhyme — not even once upon a time — has the world ever known a you, my friend. And it never will, not ever again.” As we grow up, society teaches us to compare ourselves to others. We become hyperaware of who has the most money, the biggest success, the best looks and the most acclaim. And since we’re all digitally connected to every person on the planet, we have an infinite number of opportunities to feel inferior. But we were never intended to compare ourselves to others or conform to a socially acceptable standard of perfection. As my pastor often says, God made you on purpose and for a purpose. And He put you where you are, with the people in your life, because He made you to serve them in ways that nobody else can. This principle applies to each of our lives in many ways. It certainly applies to the way you lead your church’s travel group. You may know of people who have bigger ministries or go on fancier trips. They may be funnier or more charismatic than you are. And maybe every one of their trips sells out. But you shouldn’t spend too much time trying to emulate them. Because what works for them may not work for you. The gifts, talents and personality traits that make you unique also make you uniquely qualified to do what you do. So lean into your strengths, and go make a difference in the way only you can.

BRIAN JEWELL [ EDITOR ] brianj@grouptravelleader.com

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CUSTOM CONTENT

EXPLORE ELVIS’ SPIRITUAL SIDE IN TUPELO, HIS HOMETOWN

A

BY VICKIE MITCHELL

tiny clapboard Assembly of God Church in Tupelo, Mississippi, ignited Elvis Presley’s passion for gospel music. Later, as his rock ’n’ roll career took off, Elvis and his backup singers often warmed their voices by singing spirituals. All three Grammys he won were for his gospel recordings. “Gospel and Christianity were such a part of him and of this part of the world,” said Jan Pannell, sales manager for the Tupelo Convention and Visitors Bureau. There’s no better place than Tupelo to grasp the role faith played in the life of one of America’s most-celebrated recording artists. Elvis spent his formative years in Tupelo; his first guitar came from a store that’s still in business downtown.

START THE DAY WITH A DRIVING TOUR

A day in Tupelo might begin with the Elvis Presley Driving Tour. Among the dozen sites are his elementary school and Fairpark, the fairgrounds where a larger-than-life statue commemorates his 1956 performance there. The CVB can provide a complimentary stepon guide. The drive around town is brightened by colorfully painted metal guitars, a community art project, and downtown murals, all great backdrops for group photos. “One fairly new mural is a Tupelo postcard,” said Pannell. “People are forever getting their picture made in front of it.”

BUY A GUITAR AT TUPELO HARDWARE

Downtown, at Tupelo Hardware, staff are happy to share the story of Elvis’ first guitar, which his mother bought there, and show off its selection of guitars, still a top seller. Armed with complimentary maps, groups

can then explore downtown, choosing among local restaurants for lunch. Or, they might reboard the motorcoach for a stop at Johnnie’s Drive-In, one of Elvis’ favorite hangouts. Because it is tiny and incredibly popular, the best option at Johnnie’s, Pannell says, might be to preorder its famous dough burgers and milkshakes, and enjoy them on the motorcoach. Groups are welcome to make a quick walk through Johnnie’s and have their pictures snapped sitting in the booth favored by the King.

END THE DAY AT ELVIS’ BIRTHPLACE

At the Elvis Presley Birthplace, Elvis’ ties to church and song are strongest, especially in the little church he and his family attended, which was moved to the site. His family’s two-room home is also open for tours. In the church, an interactive experience makes visitors feel they are surrounded by worshippers at a 1940s church service. Late afternoon tours at the site can shift into dinner and entertainment at the event. Sunday night suppers — meat and vegetable meals served any day of the week —add an authentic Southern touch. Before dinner, groups can watch a short movie about Elvis in the center’s theater which seats 126. Elvis tribute artists are a favorite for after-dinner entertainment. There are many in the area, and each artist portrays Elvis at a different point in his career. “Tribute artists are different than an impersonator,” said Pannell. “They are Elvis fans and they love him. They pay tribute to Elvis and keep his image and memory alive.” Like Tupelo, they celebrate a man who, through songs both spiritual and spirited, enthralled millions worldwide.

TUPELO ELVIS FESTIVAL To hear soulful spirituals, plan a trip to Tupelo June 5-9, 2019 for the annual Tupelo Elvis Festival. Sunday’s schedule begins with gospel performances. Tickets are required; this year’s show is Sunday, June 9.

WWW.TUPELOELVISFESTIVAL.COM

FOR MORE INFORMATION TUPELO CONVENTION AND VISITORS BUREAU

662-841-6521 visittupelo@tupelo.net jpannell@tupelo.net www.tupelo.net


EXPERIENCE GRAND RAPIDS AT GOING ON FAITH CONFERENCE GOING ON FAITH

CONFERENCE PREVIEW

All photos courtesy Holmes Co. COCTB Photos courtesy Experience Grand Rapids

W

Sightseeing tours at the Going On Faith Conference will feature Grand Rapids attractions such as Calder Plaza (left), Grand Rapids Public Museum (top right) and Fulton Street Farmers Market (bottom right). BY DA N DICKSON

orld-class gardens, a presidential library and great food await Going On Faith Conference attendees this summer in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The western Michigan city has a population of just under 200,000 people, with 1.2 million residents living in the metro area. This year’s conference will take place September 4-6 in DeVos Place Convention Center on the Grand River downtown. As is customary, the conference’s host city will

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offer various tours. “The plan is to do four sightseeing tours with two destinations in each,” said Dave Nitkiewicz, specialty markets sales manager for Experience Grand Rapids. “One tour will include the Grand Rapids Public Museum and the Grand Rapids Gerald Ford Presidential Museum.” The Public Museum opened in 1994 on the river downtown and contains three floors of exhibits. They include the Chaffee Planetarium, the Cook Carousel

Pavilion and the Meijer Theater. The Ford museum is the presidential museum and burial site of Gerald Ford, the nation’s 38th president, who served from 1974 to 1977, and his wife, first lady Betty Ford. “The second tour will be of Ferris Coffee and Nut, a local coffee and nut roaster and distributor,” said Nitkiewicz, “and we’ll also take them to our Downtown Market Hall.” House-roasted coffees are produced in Ferris’ airy industrial building with an inviting patio. Visitors


can also buy nuts, chocolates and other merchandise. The Downtown Market has about 20 indoor vendors, and many head outdoors spring to fall. The facility offers hands-on cooking classes, rooftop greenhouses and space for private events. A third tour highlights art and architecture and includes the Grand Rapids Art Museum or, as the locals call it, the GRAM. It will also stop at the Meyer May House, a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home completed in 1909 and located in the Heritage Hill Historic District. The last tour will be to two breweries and focuses on beer tourism. “Sometimes we’re known as Beer City USA,” said Nitkiewicz. Grand Rapids has a booming craft beer industry, and delegates can hoist a pint at a couple of stops in celebration of the Going On Faith Conference. In addition, the conference’s opening night dinner will be at the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park, a world-famous, 158-acre botanical garden and outdoor sculpture park that is the second-most-visited tourist attraction in Michigan. With dinner comes a tour of the grounds. If delegates want to linger and explore more after the conference, Grand Rapids will offer opportunities to get to know the area, including beautiful Lake Michigan. “We’ll have a post-conference familiarization tour and hope to have 20 different tour operators attend,” said Nitkiewicz. “Lake Michigan is absolutely breathtaking, and we enjoy bringing people there. Post-conference, we’ll have a one-day excursion to three small beach towns.” Nitkiewicz is confident that visiting Grand Rapids for the Going On Faith Conference will help inspire delegates to return to the area. “Our biggest advantage in Grand Rapids is that people don’t know what to expect,” he said. “In the hospitality and tourism industries, exceeding expectations is my favorite part. No expectation means people don’t know anything about an area. We’re off the radar. I love it when people come with no expectations but with an open mind.”

going on faith [ goingonfaith.com ]

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NEWS

KENTUCKY DERBY MUSEUM COMPLETES LARGEST EXPANSION

WORTHY

LOUISVILLE Kentucky — The Kentucky Derby Museum has added 11,000 square feet of new exhibit space and renovated an existing 5,000 square feet in the museum’s largest expansion since it opened in 1985. The $6.5 million expansion, which began following the 2018 Kentucky Derby, includes new exhibits tracing the careers of trainer D. Wayne Lukas and jockey Bill Shoemaker, both members of racing’s hall of fame and both winners of four Kentucky Derbys. The D. Wayne Lukas: The Modern Trainer, exhibit features artifacts,

A new exhibit at the expanded Kentucky Derby Museum details the career of legendary trainer D. Wayne Lukas. Courtesy Kentucky Derby Museum

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going on faith [ spring 2019 ]

images and video of his Kentucky Derby winners, trophies from the 1960s to the present, fine art of some of his greatest horses and interactive displays. The Bill Shoemaker: Larger than Life, exhibit has artifacts documenting his four-decade racing career, scrapbooks and a 180-degree interactive display that allows visitors to view riding a thoroughbred from the perspective of a rider. The expansion also included new event space overlooking Churchill Downs. www.derbymuseum.org


EAU CLAIRE’S FIRST MAJOR ARTS CENTER OPENED IN SEPTEMBER EAU CLAIRE, Wisconsin — The Pablo Center at the Confluence, Eau Claire’s first major arts center, opened on September 22 in downtown at the confluence of the Chippewa and Eau Claire rivers. The modernistic center, shaped like a guitar, includes a 1,200-seat main theater and a flexible 400-seat theater, along with several art galleries that are free and open to the public. The center also includes a multipurpose space on the third floor with views of the Chippewa River and the lighted Phoenix Park Bridge; rehearsal, dance and community rooms; visual arts studios and galleries; a recording studio; multimedia production and costume design spaces; and a scene shop. The offices of Visit Eau Claire are in the building, and a new visitor center on the first floor will open in late October. www.pablocenter.org

Photos courtesy Pablo Center

The new Pablo Center at the Confluence in Eau Claire features distinctive architecture and sweeping views of the Chippewa and Eau Claire rivers.

going on faith [ goingonfaith.com ] 11


PASSPORT

STAMPS INTERNATIONAL SPOTLIGHT

PORTUGAL

Braga, a seaside destination in Portugal, is one of the oldest Christian cities in the world. Courtesy Porto CVB BY E L I Z A M Y E R S

P

ortugal’s Christian roots are apparent at first glance. Ancient churches stand out prominently in most Portuguese villages, either on the main square or on a hilltop overlooking the town. Many of these places of worship date back to the 16th century and feature decorations of wood and gold leaf paid for by the country’s conquests during the Age of Discovery. The country’s most famous faith-based site is the Shrine of Fatima. In 1917, three shepherd children in Fatima reportedly saw a vision of Mary, the mother of Jesus. The children were initially told to keep their encounter private, but news of the mira-

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cle and subsequent sightings eventually spread worldwide. Today, pilgrimages to the site occur yearround, with the largest crowds on the anniversary of Mary’s appearance on May 13. Today, religion remains close to the heart of Portugal. About 81 percent of the country’s population is Catholic, which has led to many pilgrimage sites, popular religious festivals and preserved historic churches. The country’s charms go beyond its faith heritage. Centuries-old castles, ornate architecture and sunkissed beaches rival the best of Europe, with the added benefit of affordable prices. Portugal’s borders have remained the same since the 11th century, making it one of the oldest coun-

tries in Europe. Despite the country’s small size, it packs in a plethora of well-preserved historic sites and cultural wonders. The 2018 World Travel Awards chose the country as Europe’s Leading Destination for its distinctive cultural identity, friendly locals and world-renowned wine and cuisine. The weather also entices visitors, since Portugal’s climate stays temperately warm much of the year. Portugal’s exquisite coastal beauty and historic towns make the beaches even more tempting. Lisbon, Portugal’s capital and largest city, is a must-see destination famous for its Gothic cathedrals, quaint shops, cobblestone streets and colorful neighborhoods.


Lisbon’s Belem Tower

Porto’s Bom Jesus do Monte

Courtesy Tourismo de Lisboa

TO P AT T RA C T ION S

FOR CHURCH GROUPS • JERONIMOS MONASTERY — On the spot where Vasco da Gama prayed in 1497 before setting off to discover the sea route to India, King Manuel I commissioned a lasting monument. The Jeronimos Monastery embodies Portugal’s golden Age of Discovery. The UNESCO World Heritage Site contains some of the most exalted examples of Manueline architecture, a decorative style of stonework with maritime motives. • FATIMA — One of the most famous Catholic shrines, Our Lady of Fatima Basilica honors the Marian apparitions of 1917. Groups can visit the Tomb of the Visionaries and the Chapel of the Apparitions and join pilgrims for an evening candlelight procession at the basilica • PORTO — Portugal’s second-largest city has no shortage of gardens, medieval palaces and cathedrals. The vibrant city’s two most popular churches are the 14th-century Church of Saint Francis and the Gothic Porto Cathedral, which contains a famed statue of Our Lady of Vandoma. • BRAGA — Known as the “Portuguese Rome,” Braga is one of the oldest Christian cities in the world. Pilgrims flock to the Bom Jesus do Monte Sanctuary to walk the Stations of the Cross and see the building’s symbolically significant architecture.

Shrine of Fatima

Courtesy Porto CVB

Courtesy Shrine of Fatima

MUST-DO: Groups looking to step back into the Age of Discovery can climb the Torre de Belem. The UNESCO World Heritage Site fortress allows guests to climb a spiral staircase for views of Belem and the river.

MUST-TASTE: With its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, seafood is an important staple in Portugal, and bacalhau, or codfish, is a local specialty. Guests can taste this popular dish with a glass of port, a celebrated local drink.

BRING IT HOME: Introduced in the 15th century, azulejos, or ceramic tiles, come in many colors and range in age from antique to new in shops across Portugal.

PHOTO OP: Groups can take stunning pictures of both the ornate Santa Luzia Sanctuary and its mountaintop view of the town Viana do Castelo.

• CAPELA DOS OSSOS — In Evora, the Capela dos Ossos, or Chapel of Bones, originated in the 16th century when a Franciscan friar wanted to remind followers of the transience of life. To illustrate the point, the friars covered the interior walls of the chapel with human skulls and bones.

RESEARCHI N G Y O U R TR I P visit www.visitportugal.com/en A coffee break in Lisbon Courtesy Tourismo de Lisboa

Jeronimos Monastery Courtesy Tourismo de Lisboa

going on faith [ goingonfaith.com ] 13


FACES

of FAITH

‘Focused on Friendship’

TRAVEL BY A SHLE Y R ICKS

Dick Perl plans trips for Young at Heart, a group travel program for the First Baptist Church in Covington, Louisiana. The program is geared toward church members 60 or above, though it won’t turn away younger members who wish to join. The program has run for more than 15 years and has close to 400 members.

DICK PERL

[ FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH YOUNG AT HEART ] BY E L I Z A M YE R S

D

ick Perl believes faith and fun make a fruitful combination. When choosing tours for his church’s group travel program, Young at Heart, Perl tries to incorporate both into his Christian-based tours for a spiritually meaningful and entertaining experience. “Our trips are focused on friendship, love and comradery,” said Perl. “We pray at meals and often discuss what moving experiences we’ve had or what we’ve learned, on the bus or in the evenings over dinner. We also put a priority on keeping the trips entertaining.” Young at Heart offers faith-based trips for members of the First Baptist Church in Covington, Louisiana, who are 60 and older. Each year, Perl crafts several day trips and overnight trips and a couple of five- to

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a f a m i ly o f br a n d s

In just one day, more than 300 volunteers from 80 companies donated nearly $50,000 in volunteer labor hours to national and state parks in New York and New Jersey.

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going on faith [ spring 2019 ]


seven-night trips. This ensures that even those people who don’t want to leave the state can find a tour that fits their needs. Over the past few years, the group has explored Washington, D.C.; Branson, Missouri; the Ark Encounter in Kentucky; and Niagara Falls, New York. “Next spring, we’re headed to Amish country in Ohio,” said Perl. “That’s one of my favorite places because I really admire how the Amish live. I love the simplicity.” Perl only recently took over the thriving faith-based travel program, though he previously had trip planning experience during his time crafting business incentive trips. “I’d plan incentive trips to Hawaii, Mexico and similar destinations for salespeople,” said Perl. “We would have an awards banquet at the location. A lot of those trips would include plenty of free time to sightsee. For Young at Heart, the entire trip is coordinated from when they leave to the time they get back.” Perl promotes the tours during Young at Heart’s monthly meetings. About 150 people attend these events, which always include entertainment and lunch alongside the travel information. The lively entertainment acts help draw these large crowds. For example, one upcoming month’s meeting features a visit from a performance group all the way from Branson, Missouri. After an upbeat, toe-tapping travel club meeting, it’s no wonder so many sign up for more merriment with Young at Heart’s group tours.

MORE ABOUT DICK PERL FAVORITE BIBLE VERSE

FAVORITE DESTINATION

HOBBIES

John 3:16 NIV “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

A trip that stands out for Perl is a visit to the Ark Encounter in Williamstown, Kentucky. The massive size of the ark especially impressed him. Perl said the site caused him to reflect on the difficulties involved in making the ark using the tools that were available at the time of Noah.

Perl enjoys fishing and spending time with his grandkids. He also relishes his semiretirement, which allows him the time to lead the Young at Heart program.

HOMETOWN Perl grew up in New York City.

Tour

SOUTHEAST INDIANA

Bees, Birds &

Butterflies Explore the natural world in Southeast Indiana – where our garden centers, artists, farms, wetlands area, brewery and feed mill offer one-of-akind group experiences and hands-on fun.

Experience the Oxbow Wetlands

T RAV E L T IPS TIP 1 Build a birdhouse

Don’t plan travel alone. Find help.

OHIO

TIP 2

Indianapolis

INDIANA

1

Get to know the people who are going on your trips to sense what is going to sell and what’s not. Make sure you have an itinerary that is going to excite them. TIP 3 Try to keep the trips as reasonably priced as possible. We don’t do this as a moneymaker.

Cincinnati

KENTUCKY

Louisville

Lexington

South of I-74 & west of I-275, 20 minutes west of Cincinnati

www.TOURSoutheastIndiana.com 800-322-8198

going on faith [ goingonfaith.com ] 15


TRAVEL

SNAP SHOT

CANTON, OHIO BY BR IA N J E W E L L

C

Top: Football fans from around the world flock to Canton to visit the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Bottom: The bust gallery at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

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anton, Ohio, doesn’t have a professional football team. But it’s one of the most important football destinations in America. Canton is home to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the country’s pre-eminent museum dedicated to the sport. Though the institution isn’t officially linked to the National Football League, generations of NFL players and fans recognize it as spiritual home of America’s most popular professional sport. “The Pro Football Hall of Fame is a huge draw to our area,” said Allison Rowe, marketing coordinator at Visit Canton. “One of the best things they have for church groups is ‘A Game for Life.” It’s a three-dimensional immersive theater. It tells football players’ stories and talks about life lessons you learn through the game of football.” In addition to this program, the hall of fame also features the Super Bowl Theater, which shows in-depth, behindthe-scenes footage recorded at the Super Bowl and throughout the football season. Fans will also find uniforms, memorabilia and other personal items from some of their favorite players on display in the 118,000-square-foot exhibit space.

Photos courtesy Visit Canton

Many groups of football fans plan their visits to Canton around Enshrinement Week, an annual series of events in early August during which a new class of Hall of Fame honorees is inducted. “Enshrinement week is huge, with activities all throughout the weekend,” Rowe said. “The Hall of Fame Game is Thursday night. Friday is a fashion show at lunch and the Gold Jacket dinner, when the inductees get their gold jackets. On Saturday morning there’s a huge parade, and there are activities all throughout the day. Enshrinement happens Saturday night. Then Sunday we conclude the weekend with a big concert at the stadium.” Enshrinement week attracts thousands of fans throughout the country, but groups can secure tickets and hotel rooms by working directly with the hall of fame, which offers special group packages and room blocks. Whether your group visits for Enshrinement Weekend or comes to Canton at another time of year, they’ll find plenty to do. In addition to its football fame, Canton is home to numerous historic sites and serves as a gateway to Ohio’s Amish country. Here are several other popular attractions to include on your Canton itinerary.


HARTVILLE

Hartville Hardware

About 12 miles north of Canton, the Mennonite community of Hartville has become a favorite shopping and heritage destination for groups. At the center of the attraction is the Hartville Marketplace and Flea Market. Originally intended to be a temporary outdoor flea market, this marketplace quickly grew to become an indoor-outdoor, year-round market. During popular summertime weekends, it’s not uncommon to find thousands of vendors there. Also in the area is Hartville Hardware, a seven-acre hardware store with full-size display homes built inside it. And groups love Hartville Kitchen, where they can enjoy Amish style meals of chicken, mashed potatoes and pies. The restaurant also hosts a faith-based concert series. WWW.EXPERIENCEHARTVILLE.COM

Hartville Kitchen

Hartville MarketPlace

William McKinley Memorial McKinley Presidential Library and Museum

WILLIAM MCKINLEY PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY ANDThe MUSEUM Automobile Gallery

Though he was born in Niles, Ohio, William McKinley considered Canton his home. The popular public servant and statesman spent much of his life there before becoming the 25th president of the United States in 1897. He was assassinated by an anarchist just four years later in 1901. Canton visitors can learn more about McKinley and his remarkable life at the McKinley Presidential Library and Museum. Exhibits at the museum detail McKinley’s childhood in Ohio, his life of public service, his accomplishments as president and his assassination. The site also includes a science center and planetarium. Many groups also visit the McKinley Memorial, where the president was buried. WWW.MCKINLEYMUSEUM.ORG

going on faith [ goingonfaith.com ] 17


CANTON CLASSIC CAR MUSEUM

Canton Classic Car Museum

During the golden age of American auto manufacturing, numerous companies built cars throughout Ohio, including Holmes, which had a factory in Canton. Today, the Canton Classic Car Museum pays homage to this automotive legacy with a display of more than 40 beautiful vehicles from Ohio and beyond. Visitors will find memorable cars ranging from a 1901 Oldsmobile to a 1911 Ford Model T, a 1966 Ford Mustang and a 1970 Plymouth Super Bird. Other highlights include a Marmon, a Pierce-Arrow, a Cord and a Packard. In addition to automobiles, the museum features a collection of Ohio memorabilia, including vintage toys, roadside advertising and items belonging to William McKinley. WWW.CANTONCLASSICCAR.ORG

P. GRAHAM DUNN FACTORY A short drive east of Canton brings groups to the P. Graham Dunn Factory in the Ohio Amish Country. P. Graham Dunn is known for its high-quality wood items, such as cutting boards and photo frames, as well as decor and gifts. Groups that visit the factory can enjoy seeing these items made and exploring the scenic campus. On a factory visit, visitors get a view of the production floor from above and watch as craftsmen use computerized routers, powerful lasers and other techniques to make the company’s signature products. The on-site gift shop spans more than 20,000 square feet and features elaborate wall art, engraved scripture and thousands of distinctive gifts. WWW.PGRAHAMDUNN.COM

FIRST LADIES NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE William McKinley wasn’t the only White House resident from Canton. His wife, Ida Saxton McKinley, hailed from Canton as well. Today, her ancestral home, the Saxton McKinley House, is preserved as part of the First Ladies National Historic Site in downtown. The house has been restored to the Victorian era and was the primary home the McKinleys lived in while William served in the House of Representatives from 1878 to 1891. Also part of the historic site is the 1895 City Bank Building, less than a block away from the Saxton McKinley House. This seven-story structure houses a rotating lineup of exhibitions detailing the lives and accomplishments of America’s first ladies. WWW.NPS.GOV/FILA

First Ladies National Historic Site

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going on faith [ spring 2019 ]


DAYTON Looks Forward to Hosting Your Next Faith Event! Let Your Spirits Soar In DAYTON.

• Free Site Visit* • Free Space—150,000 sq. ft. Dayton Convention Center* • 60% of the U.S. population is within a day’s drive of Dayton • 7,000+ hotel rooms • Outstanding track record of hosting faith events • Numerous complimentary CVB services * Certain restrictions may apply

Submit A RFP and Receive a Special Gift! Rev., Dr. Crystal Walker, Interim Director of Sales, CMP, CHSE

Contact me to schedule your FREE site visit. 937.226.3162 • cwalker@daytoncvb.net

daytoncvb.com

800.221.8235


ANCHORS

An Emerald Waterways vessel cruises along the scenic Danube riverfront in Budapest, Hungary.

AW E I G H B Y ELI ZAB ET H HEY

I NN OVAT I VE SHIPS AND PROGR A MS TA K E TH E C R U IS E EX P ER IEN C E TO NE W H E I G H T S

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here has never been a better time to take your group on a cruise. In recent years, both ocean and river cruise lines have raised the bar on vessel design, activities and customer experiences. New ships for 2019 and beyond are poised to offer your group exciting itineraries and groundbreaking amenities. Elevated to a whole new level, journeys will offer more active excursions and the latest in entertainment, technology and cuisine. Emerald Waterways continues to wow groups with its sleek and modern river ships, as well as its EmeraldActive programming, which ranges from water aerobics and Pilates on board to biking, hiking and canoeing in port. Norwegian Cruise Line boasts the only go-karts at sea and a high-tech virtual reality complex, alongside innovative itineraries. Known for

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An Emerald Waterways dinner

Photos courtesy Emerald Waterways

its Alaskan presence, Princess is rolling out Alaskan journeys that celebrate 50 years of sailing in the region, and its wearable Princess OceanMedallion, a device that delivers personalized, hightech capabilities to guests. Also on the cutting edge, Switzerland-based MSC Cruises is set to expand its fleet from 15 to 25 megaships by 2026 while introducing Zoe, the first voice-enabled, artificial intelligence assistant at sea.


A grand balcony stateroom on an Emerald Waterways vessel

[ EMERALD WATERWAYS ] In August, Emerald Waterways will add an eighth ship to its river cruise fleet: the Emerald Harmony. Featuring Asian design fused with the amenities of a boutique hotel, Emerald Harmony will navigate the Mekong river between Vietnam and Cambodia. This four-star ship will be one of the few in the industry that can navigate upriver to Ho Chi Minh City. Characterized by affordable pricing, contemporary decor and excursions with the active traveler in mind, Emerald Waterways provides an inclusive river cruise experience. Cruises include most shore excursions, numerous active experiences, onboard and excursion gratuities, Wi-Fi and complimentary airport transfers on the day of embarkation and disembarkation to and from the ship. “Our brand is only 4 years old, and we offer a fantastic experience at a tremendous value,” said Rob Huffman, vice president of sales USA for Emerald Waterways. “We’ve been recognized as the best value in river cruising for four years in a row by Cruise Critic, and we’re extremely proud of that.” Other Emerald developments for 2019 include an upscale chartered yacht cruise for 34 passengers along the Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast. The company is also adding to its programming of land-and-sea combination products in South America, Canada and Alaska by introducing a new cruise-tour adventure in Egypt. New this year, a dedicated activity manager on each ship assists guests. The new EmeraldActive offers onboard fitness options such as yoga, Pilates and water aerobics classes. The EmeraldActive program also includes a number of special shore excursions on each cruise designed for active travelers. Complimentary bikes on board can be checked out for guests to use when exploring in port. “We’re finding that we appeal to a more active clientele with our EmeraldActive excursions, such as hiking through the Black Forest or canoeing on the Douro River,” said Huffman. “One signature feature on each ship is our heated pool with a retractable roof that guests can use for swimming laps. We work with groups to arrange special experiences, and the pool area transforms into a great space for group gatherings.” www.emeraldwaterways.com [ NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINE ] Norwegian Cruise Line’s newest ship, Norwegian Encore, will launch in November. Cruising out of Miami, she will visit the Eastern Caribbean through April 2020. The ship will continue the company’s tradition as an industry leader for award-winning entertainment, no fixed dining times or assigned seating, and onboard recreational amenities. As the only company to offer go-karts at sea, the Norwegian Encore, will have a two-level racetrack with 10 turns and points that extend up to 13 feet over the ship’s side. The Galaxy Pavilion, a 10,000-plus-square-foot, indoor virtual-reality complex, will showcase multisensory virtual experiences, simulators and an escape room. The industry’s only open-air laser tag arena, made popular on Norwegian Bliss, will feature the lost city of Atlantis, and one of the Aqua Park’s multistory waterslides extends 11 feet over the ship’s side before it loops down to the deck below. In February, the Norwegian Sky, based in Miami, underwent an extensive renovation and added eight new dining venues. In April, Norwegian Joy will offer seven-day itineraries in Alaska. Before her Seattle arrival, approximately $50 million in upgrades will match those of Norwegian Bliss, the newest and most successful ship in the line’s 51-year history. In fall 2019 and winter

Courtesy Emerald Waterways

A go-kart track on the Norwegian Bliss

Courtesy NCL

2020, Joy will reposition to Los Angeles for Mexican Riviera and Panama Canal voyages, offering options in the historically underserved winter cruise market on the West Coast. Recently renovated with bow-to-stern enhancements, Norwegian Jewel will embark on Australia and New Zealand cruises in winter 2019-20. Norwegian Getaway will also undergo extensive bow-to-stern enhancements in May in time for her European sailings. Norwegian Escape debuts in Port Canaveral, and Norwegian Epic will home port in San Juan, Puerto Rico, for the first time. Winter 2020-21 itineraries will feature sister ships Norwegian Joy and Norwegian Encore sailing from Miami to the Caribbean. www.ncl.com [ PRINCESS CRUISES ] Debuting three Royal Class vessels by 2022, Princess Cruises will launch the Sky Princess this October. A sister ship, the Enchanted Princess, will follow in June 2020, with another yet-to-be-named ship in 2022. New features on Sky Princess will include the Take Two jazz club, deep-tank top-deck pools and additional Jacuzzis. A standout feature will be two Sky Suites with 270-degree panoramic views and sleeping capacity for five guests, plus gathering space. Considered a breakthrough in the vacation industry, the Princess OceanMedallion is a wearable device that delivers personalized service to guests. All Caribbean sailings will enjoy this new technology by the end of 2019. Features include a streamlined check-in, hands-free keyless stateroom entry, MedallionNet TM with high-speed Wi-Fi connectivity and ShipMates, which helps guests find one another on board. Princess is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year with special celebratory programs on seven Princess ships sailing in Alaska, May through September. It will mark the company’s largest deployment and feature the debut of Royal Princess, which will sail between Vancouver and Anchorage as the largest ship ever deployed to this region and the first MedallionClass ship to sail Alaska.

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Driving simulators in the Galaxy Pavilion aboard the Norwegian Joy Courtesy NCL

The Norwegian Sky in Havana

Courtesy NCL

Special activities on board will include guest speakers, a new Northern Lights Planetarium and “Glacier Tea” cocktails. New for 2019, expanded Canada-New England itineraries will sail from New York. A 16-day Greenland and Canada voyage, round-trip from New York on the Caribbean Princess, will visit three ports in each country. An 18-day Greenland and Iceland voyage sails round-trip from London (Dover) and a British Isles departure is the first since 2009. Across the global fleet, Princess is rolling out new and enhanced dishes to its main-dining-room menus. Last November, a newly reimagined wine menu was selected in partnership with master of wine and master sommelier Doug Frost. “Our cuisine is designed fresh, taking advantage of local and regionally inspired foods from the global destinations we visit, plus breads baked freshly all day, steaks aged and hand-cut on board and handcrafted desserts made from scratch,” said chef Pierre-Marie Leprince, fleet director of guest culinary experience at Princess Cruises. www.princess.com [ MSC CRUISES ] Swiss-based and privately owned, MSC Cruises is set to expand its fleet from 15 to 25 mega-cruise ships by 2026. The MSC Bellissima comes into service this spring and will be the largest ship ever launched from the shipyards in Southampton, England. Beginning in March, it will sail seven-night Mediterranean itineraries. Onboard entertainment will feature two brand-new “Cirque du Soleil at Sea” shows. Bellissima will introduce the world’s first virtual personal cruise assistant, Zoe, an easy-to-use, voice-enabled artificial intelligence tool found in every

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going on faith [ spring 2019 ]

The Butler Institute of American Art Celebrating 100 Years of Great American Art

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stateroom. Zoe will speak seven languages, answer hundreds of questions about the cruise and provide information about onboard services and guidance to book services. Advanced voice recognition will enable guests to control and access information using only voice commands. Other highlights on Bellissima include a new tapas restaurant from twotime Michelin-starred chef Ramón Freixa and a Chocolaterie and Chocolate Bar from award-winning pastry chef and chocolatier Jean-Philippe Maury. MSC’s iconic 315-foot promenade will feature the longest LED sky screen at sea with a shopping gallery that features over 200 brands. Bellissima will be closely followed by MSC Grandiosa in November and MSC Virtuosa in 2020. Grandiosa will kick off its first summer season in 2020 with a popular itinerary that will sail from Genoa to Naples, Italy, with stops at Malta; Barcelona, Spain; and Marseilles, France. She will become the second MSC ship to feature Zoe. The vessel’s expansive promenade will host surprise performances, including flash mobs and themed parties and projections on an even longer 323-foot LED sky screen. New in November, Caribbean itineraries will visit Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve, a one-of-a-kind private island. The company is transforming a former industrial sand-extraction site into a marine reserve and destination that will include a coral nursery and 64 square miles of protected waters. Two miles of white sand coastline will offer seven distinctive beach areas with water activities, food and beverage, spa treatments and shopping for local arts and crafts. Since the island is just 65 miles south of Miami, the ship will remain in port into the evening allowing for a range of nighttime experiences. www.msccruisesusa.com

A Princess cruise in Alaska

Dining on king crab with Princess in Alaska

Photos courtesy Princess Cruises

Noah in Traditional and Contemporary Art & Stations of the Cross Biedenharn Museum and Gardens Monroe, Louisiana March 28, 2019 — January 18, 2020

going on faith [ goingonfaith.com ] 23

Plus, Biedenharn Bible Collection, Coca-Cola Museum, Historic Home, and Gardens. bmuseum.org or 319-387-5281 318-387-5281


SOUTHERN

SWEET AND

TRAVEL GUIDE

River City Food Tours showcase the handmade treats in Richmond’s Church Hill neighborhood.

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THESE CULINARY EXPERIENCES SPICE UP TOURS IN THE SOUTH BY ROBIN ROENK ER

ood is an indelible part of Southern culture. Fried chicken, grits, gumbo, cornbread, jambalaya, fried green tomatoes, po’boys, catfish, collard greens: The list of signature Southern flavors goes on and on. But while these iconic dishes will forever have a place on Southern menus, there’s more to today’s Southern cooking than just the classics. From Savannah to Nashville, from New Orleans to Richmond, chefs are integrating new ingredients and new influences to take Southern cooking to new and exciting heights. These five culinary experiences offer a behind-the-scenes look at how this transformation is unfolding in kitchens across the region.

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River City Food Tours Courtesy River City Food Tours


SAVORY RIVER CITY FOOD TOURS RICHMOND, VIRGINIA The array of restaurant styles available in Richmond proves that today’s “Southern” cooking often has an international flair. During one of River City Food Tours’ walking tours of the city, you could sample crispy crab tacos at Wong Gonzalez, New Zealand-style savory pies at Proper Pie, moules frites at Can Can, wood-fired pastries at Sub Rosa and more. “Richmond’s food scene is always changing,” said Brian Beard, River City Food Tours’ founding owner. “Every week we hear about new or soon-to-open restaurants. The people of Richmond love food that’s local, interesting and delicious.” The company offers three tour options: the Church Hill Food Tour, which explores the city’s oldest neighborhood; the Carytown Food Tour, which travels through the eclectic area dubbed the Mile of Style; and the Arts District Food Tour, which takes visitors to parts of the Jackson Ward and the Monroe Ward for a look at historically significant architecture, unique art galleries and under-the-radar restaurants. All tours last roughly three hours and cover about 1.5 miles; private group tours are available. “For those new to Richmond who love history, the Church Hill Food Tour is a great starting point,” Beard said. “On that tour, you’ll enjoy tons of great food, of course, but you’ll also get to see the hill from which Richmond was given its name; learn about St. John’s Church, where Patrick Henry made his famous ‘Give me liberty, or give me death’ speech; and hear other interesting stories about the city’s early days.” www.rivercityfoodtours.com

River City Food Tours Courtesy River City Food Tours

WALK EAT NASHVILLE NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE

Courtesy River City Food Tours

Walk Eat Nashville

Courtesy Walk Eat Nashville

Visitors to Music City might assume that Nashville’s creative energies center mainly around the country music culture it’s famous for. But that same artistic vibe elevates and electrifies the culinary culture in Nashville, resulting in a food scene that is both collaborative and creative, said Karen-Lee Ryan, founder and CEO of Walk Eat Nashville, which offers food tours of the city. “The food scene here is rapidly evolving,” Ryan said. “The chefs here work really hard to collaborate with one another. It’s in the DNA of Nashville — that creative process. Our chefs are taking these Southern ingredients and integrating other influences, taking the Southern classics and putting a new spin on them to elevate them just a bit.” Walk Eat Nashville offers four tour itineraries: the East Nashville Tour, the Midtown Tour, the SoBro/Downtown Nashville Tour and the Nashville Eats Tour. Each threehour tour is led by former journalists and food writers like Ryan who have in-depth knowledge of the city’s best places to eat. First-timers to the city should consider starting with the downtown tour, Ryan said. “There has been so much change to the downtown food scene even in just the last five years,” she said. “The downtown tour focuses on the culinary gems on both sides of Broadway, which is where all the honky-tonks are and where visitors are likely going to end up at some point in their time in Nashville. We’re showing you all the great local, chef-owned, hidden-gem places to eat just north and just south of

Walk Eat Nashville

Courtesy Walk Eat Nashville

River City Food Tours

Courtesy River City Food Tours

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Broadway and, at the same time, filling you in on all the Music City landmarks.” Tour participants not only sample fare at each stop along the tour but also get a chance to meet and talk with the creative forces behind the menus. “We interact with chefs and owners at most of our stops, so it definitely gives you a behind-the-scenes feel,” Ryan said. “You get to hear first-hand how the food scene is changing in Nashville, what motivates these chefs and how they’re using their ingredients.” www.walkeatnashville.com

Sampling local restaurants with Savannah Taste Experience

A Savannah food favorite

Photos by Pablo & Britt Photography, courtesy Savannah Taste Experience

SAVANNAH TASTE EXPERIENCE SAVANNAH, GEORGIA If you travel to Savannah expecting to be served only your grandmother’s Southern staples, you’re missing out. “Once you’re here, you realize that Savannah’s food is different than you thought it would be,” said Donald Card, co-founder and director of business development for the Savannah Taste Experience, which offers walking tours of the city’s culinary scene. “It’s got these Southern roots, but it’s taken to a completely new level.” The company’s First Squares Food Tour, a three-hour walking tour along the city’s historic squares, offers the perfect introduction to Savannah’s booming food culture. Offered seven days a week, the First Squares tour showcases stops along the city market area close to Bay Street, an area rich in restaurants, museums and historic architecture. The company also has a second tour, the Famous and Secret East Side Food Tour. It highlights less-visited parts of town, including more residential areas of Savannah’s historic district. On both tours, participants stop at six restaurants, enjoying food tastings at each. Groups are capped at 14 to 16 participants to allow for active dialogue between guests and guide. Larger groups can be accommodated through staggered rotations. In recent years, Savannah has become a true foodie destination with the big-name chefs and new restaurants to prove it. Tour stops rotate regularly but include restaurants like 22 Square, the Ordinary Pub, Pie Society and others, each of them offering a different take on “new” Southern classics. “The city is going through this food renaissance, if you will,” Card said. www.savannahtasteexperience.com

NEW ORLEANS SCHOOL OF COOKING NEW ORLEANS Since 1980, the New Orleans School of Cooking has been sharing the Food, Fun and Folklore of Louisiana cooking with guests from around the world. Here, visitors can opt for either a demonstration class, where they’ll watch a skilled chef prepare a classic Cajun or Creole meal, or a hands-on class, where they’ll try cooking an iconic New Orleans dish yourself. Either way, they get to enjoy a full meal at the end of the class and learn not only recipes and techniques, but also the history behind how and why dishes like gumbo, shrimp and grits, and bananas Foster have become so synonymous with the Big Easy. The public demonstration classes can accommodate up to 68 attendees; the handson classes are more intimate and are capped at 10 participants. Private and special events are also available. “Our chefs are culinary trained,” said Christina Ebberman, director of marketing for the New Orleans School of Cooking. “Many of them have been trained in culinary institutes here. Many have worked in restaurants throughout the city. And they just love New Orleans cuisine and love to teach people about it.” Equal parts cooking how-to, folklore lesson and fine-dining experience, the classes are a bit like a fine New Orleans gumbo. “Our guests love the tall tales and the history that they learn in the classes,” Ebberman said. www.neworleansschoolofcooking.com

VIKING COOKING SCHOOL GREENWOOD, MISSISSIPPI Groups can learn to make classic Southern fried chicken and other Southern specialties just like Minny Jackson’s from the best-selling novel “The Help” at the Viking Cooking School in Greenwood, Mississippi. The class is one of their guests’ perennial favorites. 26

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But visitors can also learn how to create Italian pasta dishes, Chinese and Japanese mainstays, French Quarter fare, Cuban classics and more. “We have classes here that feature every type of cuisine,” said Kimberly Gnemi, the school’s general manager. The school offers both large-scale demonstration-style classes and smaller, more intimate hands-on workshops, where 12 to 14 participants create their own dishes. “The most popular class is our hands-on workshop, which lasts three hours,” Gnemi said. “We split the class into teams, and the team completes an entire menu of four to five courses. Then at the end of class, you sit and eat everything, so you get to enjoy a full meal.” Demonstration classes have the feel of watching a cooking program in progress, one that’s led by a seasoned and engaging chef. These sessions can typically accommodate 20 attendees at the cooking school or as many as 45 in an auditorium at the Viking corporate headquarters, also in Greenwood, when reserved by the group planner. “We have hundreds of recipes, and we rotate our classes frequently,” Gnemi said. We have lots of seasonal classes as well, including our farm-to-table class, where we’re using fresh vegetables as they’re in season.” www.vikingcookingschool.com

Viking Cooking School Courtesy Viking Cooking School

K EN T U C KY

S

avor ...

THE SIGHTS & SOUNDS OF GEORGETOWN.

PURE SMALL TOWN CHARM.

SCOTT COUNTY

– Equine Activities –

• Minutes from the Kentucky Horse Park • Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement Farm • Group Horseback Riding • Nearby Keeneland Race Course

– Picturesque Downtown – • Specialty Shops • Antiques

• Scott County Arts and Cultural Center • Cafes and One-of-a-kind Restaurants • Georgetown and Scott County Museum

– Other Charming Attractions –

• Toyota Motor Manufacturing, KY, Inc. Tour • Golf • Country Boy Brewing • Bourbon 30 Spirits • Ward Hall • Yuko-En Japanese Friendship Garden • Nearby Wineries and Bourbon Distilleries • Close proximity to the Ark Encounter

INTERSTATE

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INTERSTATE

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SOUTHERN

TRAVEL GUIDE

THE SPIRITUAL

A large mural at the Ark Encounter depicts the biblical account of the Great Flood.

CHURCH GROUPS LOVE THESE FAITH-BASED SOUTHERN ATTRACTIONS

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BY ROBIN ROENK ER

eading the Bible is one thing. Experiencing it is another. From walking through a replica of Noah’s Ark to exploring ancient life in the Holy Land or seeing the Passion story enacted on a grand scale, groups can immerse themselves in the history and heritage of Bible stories that form the foundation of Christian faith, right in the heart of America’s South. If your group hasn’t already visited these marquee faith-based attractions in the South, it’s time to plan a trip.

Kentucky’s Ark Encounter Courtesy Answers in Genesis

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SOUTH ARK ENCOUNTER WILLIAMSTOWN, KENTUCKY Built in 2016, Kentucky’s Ark Encounter features a full-size replica Noah’s Ark that is more than 500 feet long and soars more than 50 feet in the air, faithful to the dimensions in the biblical account. The ark is stunning in its scale and the largest timber-frame structure in the world. There’s plenty to see inside as well, with three floors featuring dozens of educational exhibits that tell the biblical story of Noah and the ark’s creation. Answers in Genesis, the organization behind the creation of the Ark Encounter, also operates the Creation Museum, a sister attraction in nearby Petersburg, Kentucky, less than an hour’s drive away. Many groups opt to tour both attractions during their visit to the area, since combination tickets are available. “The real focus for Answers in Genesis is to proclaim and defend the authority of God’s word and the Gospel from the very first verse, and that’s exactly what happens at both attractions,” said Patrick Kanewske, Answers in Genesis’ director of ministry and media relations. Coming this spring to the Ark Encounter is a new 2,500-seat auditorium called the Answers Center that will accommodate large groups, speakers, concerts and more. Many groups take advantage of the overnight stay option, available at both the Ark Encounter and the Creation Museum every night except Saturday. “Groups come with their own bedding, and our staff leads them in a scavenger hunt and games, as well as a movie, snack and behind-the-scenes tours,” Kanewske said. “And in the morning, breakfast is included. It’s hugely popular.” www.arkencounter.com

BIBLICAL HISTORY CENTER LAGRANGE, GEORGIA Courtesy Answers in Genesis

Biblical History Center

Courtesy Biblical History Center

At Georgia’s Biblical History Center, travelers can explore life as it might have been in the ancient Middle East, from the day-to-day duties of a shepherd or a farmer to the bustle of a busy market street. In the Archaeological Replica Garden tour, groups will see full-scale, authentic reconstructions of more than 20 structures of the ancient world, from millstones, olive presses and city gates to historically accurate tombs from the Old Testament and New Testament periods. Exhibits also feature more than 250 artifacts on loan from the Israeli Antiquity Authority, items like Stone Age tools and Iron Age pottery, which are displayed in lifelike settings. “We are really just about bringing to life the history and culture of the time period so that our visitors may better understand their own faith practice, whatever that may be,” said Holly Winner, the center’s director of development and marketing. Costumed docents are available to guide groups through the Garden, offering an engaging trip back in time. Exhibits here are meant to be touched and explored. “You can feel the stone,” Winner said. “We put you in the sheep fold. We’re all about immersing you in the experience.” While there, many guests also opt to take part in the Biblical Meal experience, which offers an educational overview of ancient meal practices such as displayed in

Passover and the Last Supper, along with the opportunity to enjoy a four-course meal that features more than a dozen foods. “Participants do not leave hungry,” Winner said. “They leave with full bellies and a new appreciation for ancient foods.” www.biblicalhistorycenter.com

GREAT PASSION PLAY EUREKA SPRINGS, ARKANSAS You know the story of Jesus’s last days on earth, but seeing it played out by a cast of 150 costumed actors in a 4,000-seat outdoor amphitheater in Arkansas’ Ozark Mountains is the type of experience you don’t forget. “I remember the first time I saw the play, as a 6-year-old child,” said Kent Butler, an actor in and director of operations for the Great Passion Play. “I can vividly remember certain scenes and exactly where I was sitting. The sheer spectacle of the performance is what people are enamored by. The scale of it makes you feel as if you’re observing the biblical events as they happened.” The play is performed on select nights from May through October, with additional performances during Holy Weekend in April. On weekends from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day, guests can enjoy an elaborate Christmas light display on the property. The grounds are open year-round and provide access to the famous Christ of the Ozarks statue, a Bible Museum and a Sacred Arts Museum. Visitors can also enjoy the Holy Land Tour, an interactive re-creation of the people and places of the ancient Middle East, as well as other faith-based attractions. Since its launch in 1968, more than 7.9 million visitors have attended the Great Passion Play, with each generation’s production of the drama more spectacular than the last. “Over the past few years, we’ve added a lot of special effects,” Butler said. “The Resurrection scene has intense sound effects, as well as special effects with lighting and pyrotechnics that are not performed anywhere else in the world. People are just so in awe, you can hear audible gasps from the audience.” www.greatpassionplay.org

HOLY LAND EXPERIENCE ORLANDO, FLORIDA The Holy Land Experience is an entirely different kind of Orlando, Florida, theme park, one where stories from the Bible come to life. The park’s highlight attraction is a live stage production performed in its 2,000-seat Church of All Nations auditorium. A new marquee drama is showcased each year; this year’s feature is “The Empire and the

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Christ of the Ozarks in Eureka Springs

Jesus carrying the cross at the Great Passion Play

Kingdom,” which follows Peter as he journeys to Rome to encourage early Christians facing persecution. Additional live dramas are performed at other smaller theaters and sites across the property throughout the day. This season’s more intimate stage productions tell the stories of Maria Magdalena, Simeon, Lazarus and other early believers. “When you’re watching the shows, your heart is going to be moved,” said Sherri Patko, sales manager for the Holy Land Experience. “They’re just so impactful.” In addition to theatrical performances, guests can enjoy an array of exhibits, including the Wilderness Tabernacle and the Scriptorium, where the Van Kampen Collection — one of the world’s largest private collections of rare Bibles, scrolls, biblical artifacts, and religious manuscripts — is now on display. The park is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and two-day tickets are available. To see everything in the park, allocate roughly a day and a half, Patko said. “Even though we’re a smaller park than Disney or Universal, we have things to keep visitors entertained and active throughout their stay,” Patko said. “When people arrive, they’re just blown away by the quality of our attractions and the inspirational content that we have here.” www.holylandexperience.com

BILLY GRAHAM LIBRARY CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA The Great Passion Play’s resurrection finale Photos courtesy Great Passion Play

#

Official NASA Visitor Center

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An interactive experience at Georgia’s Biblical History Center

N

IO ATTRACT •

The Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, North Carolina, is a tribute to Graham’s life and ministry work. But it’s also a place where that ministry continues on. Opened in 2001 and set on 20 acres, the library’s main attraction is its “Journey of Faith” exhibit, housed in a 40,000-squarefoot building that resembles a barn, a homage to Graham’s early days as a farm boy. Featuring multimedia displays, interactive kiosks, and rare photos and personal memorabilia, “Journey of Faith” showcases Graham’s path to find and solidify his faith and become one of the most

A

ALABAM

See the world’s largest collection of space artifacts and explore the fascinating future of space travel! Celebrate the 2019 50th anniversary of the moon landing in Huntsville, Alabama - where it all started with Dr. Wernher von Braun and his rocket team!

Huntsville, Alabama • (800) 637-7223 www.rocketcenter.com Courtesy Biblical History Center

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influential Christian ministers in modern history. While on-site, guests can also tour the Graham Family Homeplace, where Graham lived as a boy. The home was meticulously preserved and reconstructed on the Billy Graham Library campus after it was moved from its original location about four miles away. The Library’s Memorial Prayer Garden offers guests the chance for prayerful reflection in a peaceful setting near the burial sites of Billy Graham and his wife, Ruth Bell Graham. Tours of the library are typically self-guided and take about two hours. “The library tells a story of the 70-plus years of Billy Graham’s life and ministry,” said Melanie McIntyre, communications manager for the Billy Graham Library. “We are a tourist attraction, but we’re also a ministry. Ministry happens every day here.” The library’s team of dedicated volunteers are available to minister to visitors as needed. “Lots of times, when people finish the tour, their hearts are tender, and they may feel ready to dedicate their lives to Christ; and our volunteers are here to pray with them for whatever they may be dealing with,” McIntyre said. www.billygrahamlibrary.org

The Billy Graham Library in Charlotte

Courtesy Billy Graham Library

THE GOOD WORD on a great getaway.

If you’re looking for the perfect destination for your next faith gathering, this is it. We’re proud to be nestled in the Great Smoky Mountains and built on wholesome fun for all. With facilities suited for groups from 20 to 12,000, we’re well-versed in making every event a joyful one. Enjoy more than 100 experiences including attractions, museums, shows, shopping, dining, Dollywood and more.

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SOUTHERN

NATURE AND

TRAVEL GUIDE

The Meditation Pier at Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center offers the opportunity for a quiet moment surrounded by the beauty of North Carolina.

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ENJOY RESTORATIVE GROUP EXPERIENCES AT THESE SOUTHERN RETREATS BY ROBIN ROENK ER

etreats can be a time for quiet, introspective reflection or a special opportunity for adventurous team building — or, even better yet, both. Many of the South’s top retreat centers feature not just state-of-the-art dining, lodging and meeting facilities, but also an array of team-building and entertainment options, including hiking trails, water sports, paintball, ropes courses, yoga classes and more. If your church group could benefit from some time away from home in a beautiful setting, consider taking them to one of these great Southern retreats.

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Iowa’s Field of Dreams

Paddling at Camp Gravatt Courtesy Camp Gravatt


NURTURE CAMP GRAVATT AIKEN, SOUTH CAROLINA

Courtesy Lake Junaluska CRC

The first thing most visitors to South Carolina’s Camp Gravatt notice as they arrive is its towering pine trees. “It’s very peaceful,” said Kara Dye, the camp’s director of marketing. “People often refer to coming out to camp as coming under the pines. We’ve got 270 acres of land, tons of pines and two big lakes where people love to fish and canoe.” In Aiken, South Carolina, just off Interstate 20, Camp Gravatt offers a year-round retreat center and a summer youth camp. The camp offers both indoor and outdoor meeting spaces that accommodate groups of any size for day retreats. The Chapel of the Transfiguration, overlooking Lake Henry, offers a space for worship and meditation for up to 180; Stewart Hall, the main dining hall, offers a fireplace and couches and can double as a meeting space. Gravatt’s on-site accommodations — 12 lodge rooms and 16 cottage rooms — can accommodate between 70 and 80 overnight guests when beds are shared. And, in mild-weather months when summer camp is not in session, retreat groups of up to 200 can use the property’s nonwinterized, screened-in cabins and platform tents for additional lodging. In addition to fishing and canoeing, groups can also use the on-site pool, the archery range, the open field space and high- and low-ropes courses. “The low courses are used for team-building elements, while the high ropes are more of an independent dynamic that emphasizes problem-solving,” Dye said. To keep everyone refueled, the camp’s dining hall serves freshly prepared, locally produced South Carolina foods whenever possible. Some of the produce is even grown on-site. It’s part of the camp’s integrated food philosophy, which emphasizes meals as community-building activities that foster sustainability and connection to the earth. Nights often end with a campfire round-up, and guests turn in warmed not only by the flames but also by the lasting memories created there. www.campgravatt.org

LAKE JUNALUSKA CONFERENCE AND RETREAT CENTER LAKE JUNALUSKA, NORTH CAROLINA

South Carolina’s Camp Gravatt Courtesy Camp Gravatt

On a scenic, 200-acre lake in western North Carolina, roughly 30 minutes from Asheville, the historic Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center has been hosting visitors since 1913. “Our mission is to be a place of Christian hospitality, where lives are transformed through renewal of soul, mind and body,” said Ken Howle, Lake Junaluska’s executive director. Nestled near the picturesque Great Smoky Mountains and the Blue Ridge Mountains, the conference and retreat center can accommodate groups of up to 2,000. With more than 50 separate meeting venues — from traditional meeting rooms and auditoriums to an outdoor amphitheater, chapel, and gym — the facility offers customizable options to meet the meeting and retreat needs of any size group. On-site staff are available to provide audiovisual and information

technology assistance when needed. The center’s expansive lodging includes the 105room Terrace Hotel, updated in 2015, and the 131room, historic Lambuth Inn, built in 1921 and renovated in 2018. Apartments, a lodge, dormitory-style rooms and a campground are also available. While there, guests can enjoy a 2.3-mile lakeside walking trail loop that boasts ample gardens, gazebos and even a prayer labyrinth for meditative reflection. “The beauty of the grounds is incredible,” Howle said. “The one thing that you hear consistently from our guests is that they feel closer to God here.” For those looking for more active leisure activities, there’s plenty to do as well: paddleboarding, canoeing, fishing, swimming and pontoon rides on the lake, plus tennis, golf, sand volleyball and more. In addition to hosting retreat space for groups, Lake Junaluska offers both guided and self-guided personal retreats, as well as special events throughout the year, including Music and Worship Arts Week, Choir Music Weekend, the Festival of Wisdom and Grace and the Interfaith Peace Conference. www.lakejunaluska.com

ORANGE SPRINGS RETREAT CENTER ORANGE SPRINGS, FLORIDA The Orange Springs Retreat Center started years ago as a children’s summer camp, but these days it’s all about proving that camp isn’t just for kids. Groups of all ages come to the retreat for fun, team building and renewal. “We’re very secluded in Orange Springs [Florida], which is between Gainesville and Ocala,” said Mike Sokol, Orange Springs’ owner. “When you come here, it feels like you’re going away to a secluded resort.” The camp is rustic and serene, while offering meeting rooms that can accommodate groups both large and small for lectures, break-out sessions, movie screenings and more. Groups plan their own retreat schedule and activities. During downtime, the retreat center boasts ample activity space, including softball fields, tennis courts, indoor and outdoor basketball courts and a private lake for canoeing, fishing and swimming. Groups can also use the retreat center’s high- and low-ropes courses, as well as its climbing tower, with the help of facilitators. Lodging is in the form of dormitory-style bunk beds in 13 buildings on-site and can sleep up to 210 overnight guests. Sokol rents to only one group at a time, so guests

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have complete use of the entire property during their stay. One of the biggest draws for repeat visitors is the food. “Our chef is a very talented culinary school graduate who has been with us for over 35 years,” Sokol said. “He creates everything from scratch. We really take pride in the quality of food that we’re able to offer our guests.” www.orangespringsretreat.com

The prayer labyrinth at Lake Junaluska

SHOCCO SPRINGS TALLADEGA, ALABAMA

Courtesy Lake Junaluska CRC

Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center

Paintball at Alpine Ministries

Courtesy Alpine Ministries

Courtesy Lake Junaluska CRC

Set on roughly 800 acres in Talladega, Alabama, about halfway between Birmingham, Alabama, and Atlanta, the staff at Shocco Springs understand that getting closer to God can include both prayerful reflection and old-fashioned fun. Here, guests can enjoy an elaborate aqua park, which features the giant 150foot Wet Willie Water Slide that drops straight into the lake. There’s also flag football, fishing, disc golf, basketball, hiking, paintball, paddleboards, pedal boats, a playground, putt-putt golf, tennis courts, adventure races and drift trike. And many groups enjoy Bazooka Ball, an adult-friendly game that’s a cross between paintball and Capture the Flag, with large foam balls for ammunition. “At Shocco, we utilize the gifts God has given us as an organization to serve God’s people,” said Russell Klinner, Shocco Springs’ executive director. “From our hotel rooms to our spacious acreage, our prayer is that everything we provide leads our guests to experience an environment that is separate from the normal turmoil of the world in order to experience God in a new way.” Shocco Springs features multiple hotel-like lodging options, among them the Springview Inn, which features rooms for up to 318, and the Oakridge Inn, which can accommodate 252. In all, the property can host up to 1,500 guests at one time. Group meeting facilities include the Ricker Activities Center, the Stephens Activities Center and the Bagley Center — which holds 12 conference rooms — as well as a chapel and multiple classrooms. “We hear stories every day of the spiritual impact during events on campus,” said Wendy Westerhouse, Shocco Springs’ public relations/development director. “God doesn’t speak differently here, but our guests say they listen differently with time away in a natural setting.” www.shocco.org

A treetop adventure at Alpine Ministries

Courtesy Alpine Ministries

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Wet Willy waterslide at Shocco Springs

ALPINE MINISTRIES MOUNT HOPE, WEST VIRGINIA Operated as a ministry of Appalachian Bible College and housed on its campus, near Beckley, West Virginia, Alpine Ministries offers camps, whitewater adventure getaways and retreats for guests of all ages. Alpine often hosts its own individual and couples retreats, as well as a popular youth summer camp. But outside groups can rent the lodging and facilities on the property to host their own retreats on-site. During summer months, guests can stay overnight in Appalachian Bible College’s dormitories, and the property’s Alpine Lodge offers year-round access to conference rooms and 20 motel-style rooms. Multiple bunkhouse cabins can accommodate 12 to 14 guests each and are available for rent, as are permanent platform-bottomed tents. “We can certainly host several hundred guests at a time, depending on the month of the year, and the other activities that may be going on at the time,” said John Lorch, an adventure assistant at Alpine Ministries. Alpine offers guided full-day or half-day team-building activities, as well as canoe excursions, paintball challenges, kayaking, rappelling, caving, hiking and more. The most popular adventure pastime, though, involves trips on the nearby New and Gauley rivers, where Alpine staff lead whitewater rafting excursions that range from calm Class I-III rapids to some of the world’s most challenging Class IV-V rapids. “In the fall, we offer trips on the Gauley, which is ranked top 10 in the entire world,” Lorch said. “It’s intense. People come from all across the world just to raft that river.” Alpine provides staff that not only are certified whitewater guides but also lead guests in drawing spiritual applications from the adventure. “What draws people back here year after year is our emphasis on spiritual refreshment and our desire to use the outdoor environment, God’s creation, to point people to the Creator,” Lorch said. www.alpineministries.com

Shocco Springs’ low ropes course

Photos courtesy Shocco Springs

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I felt

. . . r e w o p s God’ m o r f e c i - Jan issippi Miss

“... I sensed the Spirit of Christ in an immense way as I moved through this place.” Visit Charlotte, N.C., and walk in the shoes of a farm boy who became pastor to presidents and shared God’s love with millions. Discover what God can do through any life that is fully surrendered to Him as you explore state-of-the-art exhibits and spend time reflecting in the Memorial Prayer Garden. Admission is free, and the experience is unforgettable. Come — just as you are. “Come and see what God has done.” —Psalm 66:5, ESV

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Monday to Saturday, 9:30–5:00 • BillyGrahamLibrary.org • 704-401-3200 Reservations required for groups of 10 or more; email LibraryTours@bgea.org or call 704-401-3270. • 4330 Westmont Drive • Charlotte, North Carolina

Profile for The Group Travel Leader, Inc.

Going On Faith Spring 2019  

Find faith travel ideas for Portugal, the South, Canton, Ohio, along with new ideas for group cruises.

Going On Faith Spring 2019  

Find faith travel ideas for Portugal, the South, Canton, Ohio, along with new ideas for group cruises.