'Discover Wisconsin' episode spotlights Janesville, Evansville
JANESVILLE—Janesville and Evansville will get a shared boost in visibility to potential tourists when a “Discover Wisconsin” television episode spotlighting both communities debuts this weekend.
The Janesville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau and the city of Evansville's tourism committee worked on the show under a contract with “Discover Wisconsin,” a production group that has filmed programs featuring Wisconsin communities for years.
The show debuts at 10 a.m. Saturday on Fox Sports Wisconsin and at 6:30 p.m. Saturday on WKOW 27. After that, it will appear twice more on TV over a two-year period and also will be available online through “Discover Wisconsin."
The partnership also includes a radio presence.
That's all part of a $40,000 contract with “Discover Wisconsin” that's being paid for jointly by Evansville and the Janesville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, said Christine Rebout, visitors bureau executive director, and Sue Berg, an Evansville tourism committee member.
The program's theme is “Evansville and Janesville—A Slice of Americana.” Through several segments sewn together, the program will focus on the cities' parks, history, recreation and arts scenes.
The episode also seeks to capture the story of small-town charm shared by the two communities.
In Janesville, the show includes segments on Rotary Botanical Gardens, the Lincoln-Tallman Restorations and the scenic Devil's Staircase portion of the Ice Age Trail along the Rock River bluffs.
One segment focuses on the 200 painted barn quilts that can be found on designated routes between Evansville and Janesville.
The new show comes as a current episode of “Discover Wisconsin” that features Janesville is set to sunset after airing multiple times over the last two years, Rebout said.
Rebout said the bureau works with “Discover Wisconsin” to constantly cycle in new programs featuring Janesville. The last program aired in 2014.
“Discover Wisconsin” said the broadcasts will reach more than 500,000 viewers across the Midwest, including Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, northern Illinois and upper Michigan.
When the shows initially run, Rebout said, the bureau sees a spike in traffic on its website.
She said it's difficult to know if that translates to extra traffic into Janesville. However, area merchants who have been featured on the episodes have told her new customers mention seeing their shops on "Discover Wisconsin."
Rebout said work on the new episode rolled out over the last year, and production of the Janesville segments required 12-hour days. Because local tourism officials have creative control, Rebout said she and others in the tourism groups were present for much of the filming.
One of the segments shows an attraction that's shared between Janesville and Evansville— rural roads.
The two tourism groups decided to focus on opportunities to ride motorcycles on scenic routes between Janesville and Evansville. Rebout said the motorcycle segments took a few days to film in July and August last year.
Those segments and others feature use of aerial drone photography. In the motorcycling scenes, a half-dozen riders from Janesville's Boardtracker Harley-Davidson are shown rumbling down Weary Road, a scenic, tree-lined blacktop off Highway 14 east of Evansville.
Some shots are panoramic and sweep down from the sky to zoom in on the motorcyclists as they cruise through a rustic setting.
“Their use of drones in the episode gives people a chance to have a bird's-eye view that most who live in the area haven't seen before," Berg said. "When I saw that, I saw a whole new perspective and saw Janesville and Evansville in a whole new way, even for me.”
The Janesville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau is a nonprofit organization, but its operations are funded primarily by Janesville hotel-motel tax collections through a tourism marketing partnership with the city.
Evansville's tourism marketing is funded in the same way.
Through the partnership, the city shares about 52 percent of local room tax collections with the visitors bureau. The “Discover Wisconsin” episode is part of the bureau's overall marketing expenses, Rebout said.