2016 Indiana Tour of Honor Motorcycle Ride Includes New Kokomo Memorial

Blue and Gold Star Family Memorial

We are honored to have the new Blue and Gold Star Family Memorial, located next to the Howard County Veterans Memorial, listed on the 2016 Indiana Tour of Honor.  This new memorial was dedicated on September 13, 2015 and is located in Kokomo’s Darrough Chapel Park.

Riders can find more information on the 2016 Indiana Tour of Honor map.

For a list of all Veterans monuments and memorials in Kokomo/Howard County, go to www.VisitKokomo.org/Veterans or call the Greater Kokomo Visitors Bureau at 800-837-0971.

Nominations Being Accepted for 2016 Bicentennial Torch Relay Torchbearers

IN 2016 Torch RelayIndiana turns 200 next year!  One of the signature events of Indiana’s Bicentennial will be a Torch Relay through all 92 counties, beginning in September 2016.  All counties are being asked to nominate torchbearers to carry the torch for their communities.

The torch will pass through Howard County on October 5, 2016 from 3:00-6:00 p.m. with a closing ceremony as the torch is extinguished for the day before continuing its journey through Indiana.

The nomination form is available at http://bit.ly/HoCoTorch2016 if you wish to nominate a torchbearer in Howard County.  All completed forms can be emailed to Katie Guyer at kguyer@greaterkokomo.com or Sherry Matlock at smatlock@visitkokomo.org.  The deadline to submit nomination forms is December 31, 2015.  For more information, call the Greater Kokomo Visitors Bureau at (765) 457-6802.

Kokomo’s Chris Dame presented with 2015 Hoosier Hospitality Award

Hoosier Hospitality Award 2015 - Chris Dame

Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann presented Chris Dame of Kokomo (pictured) with a 2015 Hoosier Hospitality Award for outstanding contributions to the tourism industry during a ceremony at the Indiana State Fair on August 21. Twenty representatives of Indiana’s travel, tourism and hospitality industry earned the 2015 Lieutenant Governor’s Hoosier Hospitality Award for their high level of service in tourism-related jobs at hotels, restaurants, attractions and other destinations.

“These professionals and their Hoosier Hospitality are the vibrant pulse that keeps the tourism industry alive and well in the state of Indiana. It is a great honor to present these awards to such deserving tourism leaders whose work all too often goes unrecognized, but never unappreciated. They live out the Hoosier ideals each and every day as they are out on the front lines showing the public what makes Indiana a great place to visit,” stated Ellspermann.

Chris Dame has worked for the Hampton Inn & Suites in Kokomo for five years and was recently promoted to Guest Experience Ambassador. Hotel guests frequently comment on how Dame’s friendly demeanor and knowledge of the best local destinations makes them feel like “Kokomo is a home away from home.”  His nominator said that he is the “go-to-person” when it comes to encouraging guests to try local attractions, restaurants and other experiences unique to the area. The passion and sincerity he brings to his work makes him an integral component to the success of the tourism industry in Indiana.

Congratulations Chris! Thank you for the excellent service you provide to ensure visitors to Kokomo have a great experience!

Kokomo Native, Inventor Elwood Haynes Inducted into Automotive Hall of Fame

Kokomo inventor Elwood Haynes received national attention and praise for his contributions to the auto industry on Thursday night as he was inducted into the 75th class of the Automotive Hall of Fame during the 2015 Induction & Awards Gala Ceremony in Detroit on July 23.

A serial inventor and early automotive manufacturer, Haynes test drove his first car, the Haynes Pioneer, on July 4, 1894 in Kokomo. The automobile – one of the first to be powered by a gasoline internal combustion engine – was designed by Haynes and built in Kokomo by Edgar and Elmer Apperson. Haynes and the Apperson brothers formed the Haynes-Apperson Automobile Company (1896-1905), which was renamed the Haynes Automobile Company (1905-1924) after the Apperson brothers formed the Apperson Brothers Automobile Company. Haynes’ successful test drive occurred two years before Henry Ford’s Quadricycle and less than a year after Charles Duryea’s Motorized Wagon. Besides his automotive innovations, Haynes was also a dedicated metallurgist, inventing several commonly-used components including stainless steel and stellite.

“This is a huge event for our community and the most significant honor paid to Elwood Haynes and his legacy,” remarked Tim Rivers, Curator of the Elwood Haynes Museum. “It has been a long road to get to this day since submitting the nomination in August 2014, and we are both thrilled and pleased that this well-deserved distinction has been awarded to Mr. Haynes for his many contributions to the automotive industry.”

Elwood Haynes

Elwood Haynes “Bud” Hillis, the only surviving grandchild of Elwood Haynes (center) and his sons Gary (L) and Jeff (R) pose with a 1922 Haynes Model 75 Tourister belonging to Kokomo residents Jeffrey and Mary Ellen Griffin at the 2015 Automotive Hall of Fame Induction & Awards Gala Ceremony.

The honor was accepted by Jeffrey Hillis, Elwood Haynes’ great-grandson. Elwood Haynes ‘Bud’ Hillis, Haynes’ only surviving grandchild, also attended the ceremony along with Haynes’ 6 great-grandchildren, 4 great-great grandchildren, and representatives from Haynes International, City of Kokomo, the Elwood Haynes Museum, and other automotive dignitaries in Howard County. A 1922 Haynes Model 75 Tourister, owned by Kokomo residents Jeffrey and Mary Ellen Griffin, was featured on display during the induction ceremony.

Haynes was inducted into the Hall of Fame’s 75th class along with Roger Penske, founder and chairman of Penske Corp.; Luca di Montezemolo, former president of Ferrari; and Ratan N. Tata, Chairman Emeritus of Tata Sons. Rodney O’Neal, former CEO and President, Delphi Automotive PLC, was also honored as the Hall of Fame’s 2015 Industry Leader of the Year. More than 250 individuals have been inducted in the Automotive Hall of Fame since its first class in 1967.

Indiana Bicentennial Train rolls into Kokomo Sept. 26-28

Bicentennial Train logo

All Aboard!  The Indiana Bicentennial Train (originally known as the Indiana History Train) will be in Kokomo (the first of four stops this year) on September 26-28, 2013.  The train will be located in Downtown Kokomo at the corner of Superior and Buckeye Streets.  Visit Kokomo to experience this unique state-wide event first!

The public is invited to tour the train with its three 65-foot refurbished freight cars.  The Indiana Bicentennial Train’s on-board exhibition, The Next Indiana, will help visitors reflect on the past, present and future of the Hoosier State.  Before or after seeing this new exhibit, visit temporary “depots” filled with hands-on activities, games and presentations for all ages. Visit with a historic 1916 interpreter, vote for your favorite Hoosier invention, explore the Creativity Commons tent, and shop in the pop-up history market.

Admission is free!  The Indiana Bicentennial Train and accompanying activities will be open 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.  Group reservations are available by calling (317) 232-1882 (space is limited.)  For more information, visit www.indianahistory.org/train/kokomo.

The 2013 Indiana Bicentennial Train is presented by the Indiana Historical Society and sponsored by The Indiana Rail Road Company and Norfolk Southern Corporation, in partnership with the Indiana Bicentennial Commission and Indiana Humanities.


Josh Yocum of Kokomo’s Comfort Inn presented with 2013 Hoosier Hospitality Award

Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann presents Josh Yocum of Kokomo's Comfort Inn with the Hoosier Hospitality Award

Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann presents Josh Yocum of Kokomo’s Comfort Inn with Hoosier Hospitality Award

Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann presented Josh Yocum of Kokomo’s Comfort Inn with a 2013 Hoosier Hospitality Award for outstanding contributions to the tourism industry during a ceremony on May 8, 2013 at the Indiana Statehouse.  Twenty representatives of the tourism industry earned the 2013 Lieutenant Governor’s Hoosier Hospitality Award for their high level of service in tourism-related jobs at hotels, restaurants, attractions and other destinations.

Josh has been in the hotel industry over 10 years and is currently the Front Desk Manager.  He was acknowledged for the care he takes to ensure each patron receives exceptional service and for going above and beyond the normal duties of his position to help all staff with everyday tasks in the hotel.  Josh was nominated by Marlo Stevens, General Manager of the Comfort Inn Kokomo, for doing  a fantastic job at the hotel.  His on-going service to visitors was recognized in a recent letter from a guest which stated that he did an “outstanding job of making our visit very special.”  The guest also stated that “during the snowstorm, he kept us informed, comfortable, well fed, and treated us as family.  We’ve traveled all over the world and the Comfort Inn Kokomo was the best hotel we ever experienced, because Josh looked out for us and all other guest.  He has excellent customer service skills.”

The Greater Kokomo Visitors Bureau congratulates Josh on receiving this award, and we thank him for his outstanding service to visitors in Howard County!

Sweet Poppin’s and Front Porch Pretzels named Indiana Artisans

Local Kokomo businesses Sweet Poppin’s and Front Porch Pretzels have been named Indiana Artisans.  Indiana Artisans supports entrepreneurs who create high-quality art, crafts, and value-added foods in the Hoosier state.  Artists are juried into this state-wide group.  There are nearly 250 Indiana Artisans across the state, including over 80 foodists.  We are proud to have two of these Indiana Artisan foodists from Kokomo!

Sweet Poppin's gourmet flavored popcorn

Sweet Poppin’s gourmet flavored popcorn

Sweet Poppin’s, located in Downtown Kokomo, makes gourmet flavored chocolate covered popcorn in many indulgent flavors, including Pralines & Cream, Lemon Pound Cake, Strawberry Cheesecake, and Peanut Butter Popcorn.  Since their inception, over 30 popcorn flavors and/or combinations have been created.  Visit their website to find out why this heavenly treat is “a dream come true!”  Sweet Poppin’s popcorn can be purchased online or at their shop located at 107 East Sycamore Street.

Jams made by Front Porch Pretzels

Jams made by Front Porch Pretzels

Using all organic ingredients, Front Porch Pretzels makes hand-rolled soft pretzels, specialty breads, pies, and soups.  However, they were juried into Indiana Artisan with their delicious jam made with organic fruit.  Jam flavors offered include strawberry-rhubarb, pear-apple, dutch apple pie, and blueberry.  For more information or to place an order, call 765.455.2085 or follow them on Facebook.

To find out more about Indiana Artisans throughout the state and the process to become designated by this program, visit www.IndianaArtisan.org.