By Charlize Jamieson—
Muncie, IN—Every so often, something happens that leaves you saying, “This is a PERFECT fit!”
That may have been the collective community response when Dale Basham was named to become the Interim Executive Director of the Muncie-Delaware County Visitors Bureau. It was a no brainer.
Throughout his long career as an educator and leader in so many civic groups and events, both here and elsewhere, Muncie and Delaware County has had an ambassador in Basham. Muncie has always been front and center for him and, like most things he tackles, Basham hit the ground running in his newest post.
He and his staff worked non-stop starting with moving the Visitors Bureau itself, from its previous location on the far south end of the city, to the heart of downtown. The move occurred within days of Basham being named to his new position and they finished in time for their grand opening during downtown’s “First Thursday” event in June. Basham, known to many as “Downtown Dale” quickly reminded us that his new nickname is “Delaware County Dale”, not just “downtown or Muncie Dale.”
For the past few weeks, Basham has been visiting surrounding communities, assuring them with a message of collaboration, inclusiveness and unity, with the reminder that Muncie and Delaware County need each other in order to achieve success.
While many things are new, one thing that didn’t change is the solid team Dale has surrounding him. Jeff Bryan (Marketing Director), Julie Hilbert (Business Manager), and Kim York (Customer Service Rep.) work cohesively to ensure Delaware County’s visibility throughout Indiana and beyond. Visitors receive a positive customer experience while at the Visitors Bureau. The customer response has been exceptional to date. Basham reports the “retail” business at the Visitors Bureau has seen a dramatic increase in sales since moving downtown. The Bureau has also had visitors from all over the country, many of whom are visiting Muncie for the first time, while enrolling their child at Ball State.
The role of the Muncie Visitors Bureau is to be “At Your Service” and to assist in the mission of making Muncie and Delaware County a destination for multi-day, overnight stays, Basham says. Helping to solidify Muncie and Delaware County with that destination distinction is the Bob Ross exhibit at Minnetrista and Garfield of comic strip fame, both of which garner plenty of interest, especially once out of towners realize Muncie was, and is, home to both.
As for the future, there are some major events on the horizon that have Basham and team’s full focus—none larger than the first weekend of October, which is Ironman weekend! Muncie-Delaware County was one of a select few cities in the United States to host an Ironman event. The Ironman is a race combining swimming, cycling and running, covering a total of 70.3 miles. It is a major event that attracts top athletes from across the country. Thursday evening, September 30th kicks things off with a concert at Canan Commons, featuring the Kentucky Headhunters and Flynnville Train, both regionally known bands. October 1st, the Ironman participants begin arriving in Muncie with the actual race taking place on Saturday, October 2nd. Additionally, the Army Cadets football team will be in Muncie that weekend to play Ball State, at Scheumann Stadium. Every hotel room in Delaware County is currently booked solid for that weekend.
Muncie residents are encouraged to visit The Muncie-Delaware County Visitors Bureau, which is located at 421 S. Walnut Street in downtown Muncie. It is open Monday through Friday, 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. Visit their website at visitmuncie.org.
Make it a point to stop in, say hello to the friendly staff and check out their new digs. While you’re at it, pick up some Muncie and Delaware County memorabilia in the retail shop.