EXPY Award Winners Elevate Columbus as A Visitor Destination

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

Seven organizations, businesses and agencies that helped make Columbus a visitor destination will receive EXPY Awards March 10 at the 2015 annual meeting of Experience Columbus.

The winners help the visitor industry generate $8.7 billion in annual economic impact, according to Brian Ross, Experience Columbus president and CEO. Ross discusses the importance of the visitor experience as an economic development tool in the March issue of Columbus CEO.

The latest EXPY winners, as named in a news release, are:

Columbus Recreation and Park Department - Jazz & Rib Fest

In its 35th year, the Columbus Recreation and Park Department's Jazz & Rib Fest featured some of the top names in jazz, as well as celebrated local and regional musicians and 23 veteran rib teams from across the U.S. More than 350,000 people attended the free, three-day festival in the Arena District.

The Nationwide Children's Hospital Columbus Marathon & ½ Marathon

In 2014, more than 5,500 participants crossed the finish line of the largest 26.2-mile race in Ohio during the 35th Nationwide Children's Hospital Columbus Marathon & ½ Marathon. An estimated 40 percent of all finishers are from outside Central Ohio, booking hundreds of hotel rooms and dining in local restaurants, which generates more than $15 million in economic impact.

The Ohio State University Football Team - National Champions

The Buckeyes concluded their 125th season of football as the first-ever College Football Playoffs National Champions, a remarkable journey that cast the entire state in a bright, positive light and boosted Columbus' image nationwide and worldwide.

Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens - Bruce Munro's "Light"

Munro transformed indoor environments and outdoor courtyards to create an enchanting after-dark experience for residents and visitors alike. "Light" was a monumental undertaking that drew nearly 40,000 paid visitors over its 109 nights.

The Wexner Center for the Arts - "Transfigurations"

"Transfigurations," the Wexner Center's 25th Anniversary Season exhibition, was the first and only public showing of works from the personal collection of Leslie and Abigail Wexner. An estimated 120,000 people visited from 36 states and five nations, breaking all previous attendance records.

Scioto Downs Racino

Celebrating more than 50 years of gaming in Columbus, Scioto Downs is a premiere entertainment destination and a preferred stop for group tour operators, drawing more than 800 buses carrying more than 9,500 passengers from outside Central Ohio.

Columbus Zoo and Aquarium – "Heart of Africa"

"Heart of Africa" is a crowning achievement for the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. The 43-acre African savanna provides visitors an up-close experience to 165 exotic animals in their naturalistic habitat. In 2014, the zoo broke all-time attendance records, welcoming 2.4 million visitors.