01/02/14 Marshall County will say goodbye to one of it’s biggest booster’s as the Executive Director of Marshall County’s Visitors and Tourism Bureau Mike Woolfington locked the doors for the final time on Tuesday.
Woolfington ends 20 years as Executive Director of the agency. Starting Thursday morning Cori Humes – Assistant Director – will take over the reigns as Executive Director.
“I’m not going to sit in my rocking chair,” said Woolfington with a laugh. “I’m going to stay involved with the Blueberry Festival, I’m still on the Board of Directors for the Farmer’s Market. Marshall County has been good to me. It’s been a great place to live.”
Woolfington was the original Executive Director when the organization was formed in 1991 and has guided the Tourism Bureau ever since. The office was created by ordinance at that time and its operating budget is funded from an “innkeepers tax” charged for hotel rooms in the county.
“We started with a grand total of $94,000,” said Woolfington of the early days. “After rent there wasn’t a whole lot left over.”
That money went a long way because of the qualities and enthusiasm of Woolfington himself.
“Retiring is tough because I truly love this job,” he said. “Not once in 20 years have I ever gotten up in the morning and not wanted to go to work. You get to work with so many people who want to have fun, and there are always new projects to work on. It’s never the same thing any day.”
The Bureau started with offices in the Plymouth Building on Michigan Street in downtown Plymouth, moved to The Old Firehouse and earlier this year re-located to 201 N. Michigan in downtown Plymouth in the space vacated by Centier Bank.
One change that Woolfington has seen over the years of his service has been a very positive one.
“I think people in the communities around the county are making a lot greater effort to work together,” he said. “There was a time when that wasn’t the case. Now I think everyone realizes that working together closely helps everybody.
“It’s really an exciting time because of the grant situation and other financial things we are able to do we can help smaller communities and smaller festivals financially. We’ve been able to help Bremen and Bourbon get some things done. We can get them money for advertising that they’ve never had before and that helps a lot.”
“The growth of the Farmer’s Market (in Plymouth) has been a very big thing. That’s taken over what used to be the ‘downtown Saturday night’ social time. People come downtown on Saturday mornings and sit on a bench or walk around and socialize. There’s a lot going on.”
Woolfington is rightfully proud of the growth of the Farmer’s Market and another new county event.
“The Barbecue Cook Off is going to become big I think,” he said. “We learned a lot this year. We have been really shocked that we already have two spaces reserved for next year and we’ve done nothing to promote it other than say that we’d been approved to do it again next year. We had 27 cooks this year and we hope we can have as many as 40 this year. Where we will put them will be the challenge. That’s a good challenge to have.
“(River Park Square in Plymouth) is going to be a great attraction too. It’s just a lovely addition to Plymouth’s downtown. There is so much potential in the county. (New Director) Cori Humes is going to do a great job. I told her not to move too fast or she’s going to make me look bad.”