Sleepy Eye’s Convention and Visitors Bureau is striving to put Sleepy Eye on the map, or at least on billboards and TV screens across Minnesota and its neighboring borders.

Sleepy Eye’s Convention and Visitors Bureau is striving to put Sleepy Eye on the map, or at least on billboards and TV screens across Minnesota and its neighboring borders. With the recent revitalization of the AmericInn Hotel & Suites, the added campsites, and the Winowannastay Inn B&B, the CVB has been able step out into the marketing playground, thanks to the collected lodging tax revenues, which funds 100 percent of our marketing efforts.

The purpose of the Sleepy Eye CVB is to advance the economic impact of tourism in the Sleepy Eye area by attracting visitors, conventions, meetings, events, and trade shows; and to develop and promote additional attractions and special events.

The CVB is run in conjunction with the Chamber of Commerce, which is the case in most communities, however, all monies are separate, and each has their own governing board/committee. Sleepy Eye’s CVB Committee is made up lodging representatives, food and beverage retailors, merchandise retailors, and our event center manager. Per my job description, my time is split between both the Chamber of Commerce duties and the CVB marketing duties. The committee currently meets quarterly to discuss the plans and direction they wish to see Sleepy Eye heading towards.

So, what exactly is it that the CVB has done that you would notice? Let me give you a taste of 2018. Last year the CVB felt that with our new city logo we were ready to reintroduce our visitors and surrounding communities to Sleepy Eye. Our new city logo asks people to ‘Experience It All’, so it was our mission to show them just what ‘All’ was.

Tourism in Minnesota in 2017 generated $15.3 billion in gross sales; Brown County contributed $41 million of that, adding $2 million in state sales tax revenue and employing 1,100 people in the tourism industry. So yeah, tourism is kind of a big deal.

Our first bit of business at the Sleepy Eye CVB was to get BIC Graphics art department on board and create a uniformed look for our magazine and Explore MN ads. These multi-photo ads could be found last year in the Minnesota Visitors Guide, Southern MN Visitors Guide, USA Today’s Ultimate Travel Guide, as well as multiple area visitor guides. You will once again find us in almost all these guides for 2019 as well.

Our second bit was to apply for Explore MN marketing grants that cover 50 percent of out-of-state advertising costs, because we had some big plans and every little bit helps. We were awarded a $2,000 grant to share Sleepy Eye with our neighboring states. Psst, by the way, we were awarded this grant for 2019 as well, so keep on the lookout.

The next venture was touting our largest celebration of the year—Buttered Corn Days. And we didn’t just want to tell people in New Ulm or Springfield about it (even though we did that too) we wanted to entice Sioux Falls residence to take a day trip to Minnesota and eat amazing sweet corn. And the same went for the people just north of St. Cloud on Hwy 15. A two-hour drive for sweet corn, great music, beautiful lake views and some 1919 root beer? Absolutely! And they did come! In fact, one of the first people served Friday sweet corn said it was our billboard that made them ‘Save the Date’ and take a trip south.

These billboards were also used to promote the Sleepy Eye Holiday Lights in Motion this past December. Just another great way to highlight the magic of our small-town volunteers that pulls in visitors from shocking distances.

We also took advantage of the baseball enthusiasts in our state and our community as we partnered with FOX Sports North to advertise during their ‘Only in MN’ spot during two Twins games. We made sure to highlight our Babe Ruth history, but also let Minnesota know that we are the hometown to the First Native Minnesotan to play for the MN Twins—Fred Bruckbauer, 1961-62. It was a great showing! Both of these ads can be viewed on our Sleepy Eye Chamber website homepage, incase you missed them.

The rejuvenated funds for the CVB allows us to expose people to all that Sleepy Eye residents hold dear and love about living here.

In 2019 we will once again advertise in magazines and billboards, but are also working with Flying Buttress Media to create a few community ad videos about all the great reasons to visit and or live here in Sleepy Eye. Stay tuned for those fun images.

We are also partnering with our local Public Utilities Commission in designing some new banners for the street poles. Images that welcome and boast the community, history, and adventure that Sleepy Eye has to offer.

This fall Sleepy Eye will host the Southern Minnesota Tourism Association Conference for two days. Around 30 to 40 southern Minnesota CVB and tourism directors will stay and visit our city to see our amenities and learn about we’re doing to make Sleepy Eye a true tourist destination.

So, I hope this gives you a little better insight into what exactly our Sleepy Eye CVB has been doing and does for our community. While we are fortunate to have a major highway running through our city, we’d be naïve to think that is the only way people might learn or know of our community. I hope this has pulled back the curtain a little bit for you and know that we are so very appreciative of all the ‘Shares’ our social media has received thus far. Who knows, maybe with enough community momentum and tourist traffic, a Visitor Center might not be such an absurd idea. In the meantime, please continue to invite people to ‘Experience It All’ here in Sleepy Eye…our CVB always appreciates the help.