(Dave Blank, Real Racine CEO, and David Spiegelberg, Wisconsin Department of Tourism)

Racine County residents and out-of-town visitors are invited to a day-long celebration of interesting places, fascinating architecture and local history at the first ever “Open House Racine County” on Saturday, May 21.

With help from a Joint Effort Marketing (JEM) Grant from the Wisconsin Department of Tourism, the event will offer free access to more than 40 buildings and sites across the county. Real Racine, the county’s destination marketing organization, plans to give visitors opportunity to learn the stories behind some of the area’s gems.

The $7,500 grant was presented Thursday (April 28) by David Spiegelberg, Wisconsin Department of Tourism regional economic development specialist. The funds will go toward digital, print and broadcast advertising materials.

“This new event takes full advantage of Racine County’s rich history and and showcases world-famous architects like Wisconsin’s own Frank Lloyd Wright,” said Tourism Secretary Stephanie Klett. “This is an excellent example of collaboration among Wisconsin communities to showcase the county and state as an arts and culture destination, while creating a positive economic impact in the local community.”

In fiscal 2015, the Department funded 59 JEM projects, awarding a total of more than $1.1 million.

Open House Racine County sites will include historic treasures like the Wind Point Lighthouse grounds and the Racine Heritage Museum, as well as internationally famous Frank Lloyd Wright-designed buildings such as Wingspread. The tour will wind through communities in Racine County with opportunities to learn more about each individual site. Attendees can create their own itineraries using the interactive Open House Racine County website (www.openhouseracinecounty.com). Event organizers are hoping to draw 5,000 visitors for an estimated economic impact of $206,000.

“We’re already getting a lot of excitement from people who want to see these wonderful places for themselves,” said Dave Blank, Real Racine president and CEO. “We’re hoping that everyone enjoys exploring all we have to offer right in our backyard.”

JEM grant funds are available to non-profit organizations for the promotion of Wisconsin tourism events and destinations. The state can fund up to 75 percent of a project’s first-year advertising and marketing costs, and provide support for second- and third-year projects with decreasing amounts for funding until projects become self-sustaining. For information on the JEM Program and application materials, visit http://industry.travelwisconsin.com.

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Paul Holley is retired from careers in journalism, public relations and marketing but not from life. These days, he pretty much writes about what he feels like writing. You may contact him directly at:...