September 26, 2014
Blogger-at-Large, Clara Rice here! Last weekend, JRA and the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA)'s Eastern North America Board played host to OkTEAberfest – the first Cincinnati event in TEA history! Over 30 TEA members traveled from as far away as New York, Sacramento, Orlando, Nashville and LA to attend the two days of events, which included Oktoberfest Zinzinnati and the Cincinnati Comic Expo. And we were excited to show them our hometown on one of its busiest (and sunniest!) weekends.
The group began their visit with one of the most highly anticipated Oktoberfest events – the 8th Annual Running of the Wieners! Dachshunds raced across Cincinnati’s Fountain Square for treats, glory, and a case of beer for their owners while adorned in hot dog bun costumes (and occasionally, Tyrolian hats).
Notice her dachshund-patterned shirt. Genius.
After the races, I was happy to introduce some of our out-of-towners to their first Cincinnati chili experience…
“What a fun event,” said The Nassal Company's Melissa Ruminot, pictured above in authentic Skyline Chili attire. “I was able to get a true sense of what Cincinnati is all about: from the cultural aspects of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, to wiener dog races, Comic Expo, and Skyline Chili. It was fantastic and well worth the trip.”
The afternoon took on a more contemplative note as the group toured the National Underground Freedom Center. Recently celebrating its tenth anniversary, the Freedom Center chronicles the stories of those who fled across the Ohio River in the 1800s, while emphasizing the struggles for freedom that still exist today. The tour, sponsored by The Nassal Company, was co-led by a Freedom Center docent and JRA’s Rob Morgan, offering an informative balance of content and design process.
Following the tour, the group returned to JRA’s office for an informal discussion on the challenges and opportunities surrounding culturally sensitive projects and topics. The panel included JRA’s Dan Schultz, LF Creative Group’s Rodney Heiligmann and The Nassal Company’s Marc Kish.
Friday’s festivities concluded with a JRA-sponsored wine reception at one of my favorite local haunts, the Plum Court Wine Room, followed by dinner in Cincinnati’s newly-revitalized Over-the-Rhine neighborhood. As you can see, folks definitely soaked in the city’s nighttime vistas.
Plum Court Wine Room
Walking through Washington Park on the way to dinner. At dusk.
Saturday began with “From Page to Park: Transforming Comic Characters Into Blockbuster Attractions”, a panel discussion featuring JRA’s Shawn McCoy and Adirondack Studios’ Michael Blau at the Cincinnati Comic Expo. The panel answered the question, “how do you create an authentic attraction experience from a cherished intellectual property like Harry Potter or Transformers?” Shawn and Michael’s remarks attracted a sizeable crowd, and much to my surprise and delight, several young people in the audience approached me afterwards inquiring about TEA NextGen membership!
From left: Shawn McCoy, Michael Blau, Yours Truly.
After the discussion, the group was free to explore the Comic Expo, and they ran into a few well-dressed characters. Patrick Jeffers, a NextGen member, was even able to have a “Doctor Who” moment.
I myself had one mission – to get a hug from Henry “The Fonz” Winkler…
…Mission accomplished. ☺
The group moved from superheroes to suds on the “Bootleggers, Brothels and Booze Tour”. The tour began at Arnold’s, Cincinnati’s oldest saloon, and meandered its way through Downtown streets before arriving at an authentic, turn-of-the-century brewing cellar (fun fact – before prohibition, Cincinnati housed 2,000 saloons!).
Our tour guide was certainly dressed appropriately for the weekend!
Gerke Brewery Cellar
For the grand finale, attendees were treated to a VIP Oktoberfest Experience, featuring complimentary brews, a German buffet and a prime view of the World’s Largest Chicken Dance, led by former boy banders and Cincinnati natives Nick and Drew Lachey. Some folks definitely got in the Oktoberfest spirit:
Celebrating Oktoberfest (and OkTEAberfest) with Michael Blau.
Teutonic times and beautiful weather were enjoyed by all. “My wife and I had a great time: I got some good business accomplished, and we got to spend time with fantastic TEA folks, including the NextGens,” said Larry Howard of Christie Digital Group. According to newly-minted TEA NextGen member, Hannah Motz, the weekend provided valuable one-on-one time with company members: “Everything from the wine tasting to the Comic Expo were great opportunities to meet professionals in an industry that I am growing to enjoy more and more.”
For additional photos, check out the TEA Facebook page, and stay tuned for news of the next Cincinnati event, coming in Summer 2015!
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