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2015 Visit Lake County Year in Review

Wow, another year has come and gone. Where did the year go? It is hard to believe that 2015 has come to an end. I first want to take a minute and thank each and every one of for reading our blogs the past year. None of this would be possible without you, reading, visiting and sharing VisitLakeCounty.org, as well as exploring and vacationing in Lake County. The blogs have been the backbone of everything we do marketing-wise at Visit Lake County. I want to take this time to sit back and reflect on just a few of the many things that we accomplished in 2015. When I start to reflect on everything that we accomplished, it amazes me at how much we actually did. It’s pretty remarkable. Now let’s look back on: 2015 Visit Lake County Year in Review.

Little Lake County
littlelakecountyWe continued our partnership with Little Lake County. In January 2014, we launched the partnership with Little Lake County’s editor-in-chief, Melissa Haack, and her team. We guest blog on their site every week, about family-friendly events, tourism-related stories and unique local restaurants. Melissa and I have built a good relationship and understanding of our respective missions. It has been a great way for us to connect with local moms in the area and showcase what we do for Lake County. We definitely look forward to a continued partnership with Little Lake County in 2015. If you haven’t already, I recommend you also checking out Little Lake County.

Boating Lake County
In 2013, we launched a new website specific to boating, BoatingLakeCounty.com. We continued momentum from 2014 by attending the Chicago Boat Show and creating a bigger presence at the show. We then continued working with our Lake County Boating partners by participating in the Northern Illinois Boat Show at the Lake County Fairgrounds. We saw more visits to our website and an increase of website numbers in the spring and summer months. We distributed our Boating Lake County Newsletter to consumers who were interested in boating, and we look forward expanding our relationship in 2016. We are also looking forward to working more extensively with our boating partners in 2016. I am very excited to see what 2016 brings for Boating Lake County.

Another Goliath Summer
Goliath made its long awaited debut in the summer of 2014. It would be definitely hard to top that. It broke three world records: Tallest, Fastest and Steepest wooden roller coasters. During this past summer, Six Flags Great America celebrated 40 Seasons of Thrills. The Gurnee amusement park reintroduced some kid rides from when they first opened their doors, held some special events and continued to thrive off of Goliath. You could still feel the energy in the air every day this summer, and the ride continued to not disappoint. It was still simply….AWESOME!!! You can view our video below and relive our reaction to riding Goliath.

In September, Six Flags Great America announced the new ride that will be arriving at the park in 2016, JUSTICE LEAGUE: Battle for Metropolis. It has been received with much anticipation. I can’t wait to check out this new ride in 2016.

Portillo’s Arrives in Gurnee
DSC_0539The early reports from Social Media were extremely positive about Portillo’s Gurnee’s arrival. The reports also showed how popular the restaurant chain was and how important it was for the village. The people of Gurnee lobbied for this restaurant to come to their town for a while now and they have been rejoicing ever since their doors opened. The newest Portillo’s location is positioned in the parking lot of Gurnee Mills just north of Bass Pro Shops near Burlington Coat Factory and Shopper’s World. Some of the highlights to this glorious menu (or at least a slew of my favorites) include succulent Italian beef sandwiches, hearty chopped salad, char-broiled burgers, mouth-watering chocolate cake, their staple hot dogs and sausages and so much more. This is just another reason for Wisconsinites to visit Gurnee and Lake County.

Westfield Hawthorn adds Theatre

To complete the mall’s ongoing expansion, a 44,000-square-foot AMC movie theater opened the first weekend of May 2015. AMC’s kitchen offers pizza, chicken tenders, sliders, specialty hot dogs, Philly cheesesteaks, nachos, custom yogurt, ice cream, shakes, and espresso, among other offerings. Patrons can buy a ticket to access the lounge and bar, which serves beer, wine and mixed drinks. See you at the theater.
In 2014, Westfield Hawthorn brought Dave & Buster’s to Lake County. With 150 games, a sports lounge, bar and restaurant, as well as four private rooms for parties, special events or meetings, Dave and Buster’s hopes to appeal to families and adults. Anyone younger than 18 has to be accompanied by an adult, and after 10 p.m. on weeknights and 11 p.m. on weekends, no one younger than 21 is allowed. This is also a popular place to catch the big game. Maggiano’s and Smashburger also opened in the mall in 2014.

Lake County Fair
funnel-cakesEvery summer there are memories created at the Lake County Fair. This summer was different though. The theme of the 2015 Lake County Fair was ‘Summer’s Best Fest,’ and it definitely was. I have never seen so many people there. It was like I remembered it as a kid. The Fair featured all of the best entertainment from the animal shows, food, games and rides, banana derby and much more. Saturday, August 1 at the Lake County Fair was Visit Lake County Day sponsored by Knauz AutoPark. Visit Lake County hosted the Front Porch Stage that welcomed Fair goers at the front building. Our stage featured live music throughout the day from musicians that participated in our “I Love Lake County” Song Contest. The stage was rocking from 11am – 9pm. The stage was standing-room only on multiple occasions with people listening to the local musical talent that we have in Lake County. It was definitely a day to remember and Summer’s Best Fest!

Lake County Song Search Contest
DSC_0595This was probably one of my favorite projects to have worked on. I am extremely proud of this project. After the success of our ‘Best Day of My Life,’ music video in the summer of 2014, I was looking for something to take that initiative further. Then came the idea of a Lake County Song Search. We wanted to contact local musicians and build out the music section on our website. We reached out to all the local music venues and contacted the local musicians that we were finding. The goal was to have a local musician write a song about Lake County. People throughout the nation visited our website and voted for a Fan Vote Winner. We also crowned a Grand Prize winner that was selected by a panel of judges associated with Lake County’s music industry. We received 12 unique songs about Lake County. We had thousands of votes on our website with Dylan Kroll, being selected as the fan vote winner. Kroll then got to play his fan vote winning song and a few other songs in his catalog at the Grand Prize Winner event hosted by Mickey Finns Brewery in May. The judges selected Dylan Kroll, for his song, ‘Lake County; the Bounty of Illinois,’ as the Grand Prize Winner of our Song search. Dylan performed his song on WXLC 102.3 and at several area summer festivals. Furthermore, Visit Lake County created a music video showcasing his song and various Lake County location. After the video launched, it received many outstanding compliments, with one critic even saying, “It is a tourism video, that has gone mini viral’. I will let the video speak for itself and the overall project. It will always be a memorable project for me.

Thank you again for reading our blog the past year and we look forward to publishing even more blogs for you to read in 2016. Without you, our blog and Social Media would not be successful, so thank you. I hope everyone had a great 2015 and we look forward to seeing you around Lake County in 2016!

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