Jodi Melfi | Guest Columnist | Newark Advocate

Often when we think of tourism in Licking County the first things that come to mind are Historic Granville, or Newark’s newly face-lifted downtown, the Earth Works, or Dawes Arboretum, but most people in Central Ohio don’t realize that one-third of the Buckeye Lake Region is in Licking County. Most of the “north coast” of the lake is part of our county, including the Village of Buckeye Lake.

Since the lake is regaining its health after the Ohio Department of Natural Resources has invested millions in dredging and repairs to the 150-plus year old dam, regional travel to the lake is now in high summer season. The area is bouncing back, and beyond, with businesses that cater to fun-seekers coming under new ownership and expanding to accommodate a new interest in Buckeye Lake. The area is becoming a destination for Midwest travelers.

Organizations like the Buckeye Lake Historical Society and the Buckeye Lake Museum have big plans for unique attractions. The Queen of the Lake III will be a fully restored sternwheeler. The project will hopefully launch in the near future, as they get closer to the goal of $60,000 in donations. The plan is for the reimagined dinner cruiser to reside at a new public pier and park that will be constructed in the Village of Buckeye Lake. This will be a huge draw for weekend travelers and for hosting regional events of all kinds.

In the 2019-2020 state budget $1.3 million have been appropriated to the Buckeye Lake region for improvements. Although this money will be divided between Licking, Fairfield, and Perry Counties, they will make projects possible like the building of that public pier and park, as well as creating additional public access points to the Lake.

Helping to promote tourism and businesses, and striving to be the top source for what’s going on at the lake is The startup is celebrating its one year anniversary, and has invested heavily in the lake’s future by creating media campaigns in central Ohio that push the word out about the region to a larger group of travelers and day-trippers.

Imagine yourself spending a weekend at the lake, picnicking on a rented pontoon boat as the kids splash in the water. Cast out a line and watch the bobber – your day-to-day worries fade away for the afternoon.

Take a day out with the girls, starting by perusing the local flea and antique markets. Then stop for a flight of seasonal draft tasters on the patio at the Buckeye Lake Brewery, and sample snacks from the menu at the adjoining Chef Shack. Reconnect and relax with your friends.

Imagine a motorcycle ride through the surrounding rolling countryside that finishes up at one of the many dockside restaurants watching the sunset over the water as local talents play live music. You’ll feel like you’re hundreds of miles away from home – but you are just down the road.

All of this is happening now, just on our county’s southern edge. Let’s enjoy Buckeye Lake’s offerings, as part of local tourism, where our dollars directly contribute to the Buckeye Lake and Licking County economy.

Jodi Melfi is with the creative COOP, Jodi Melfi Design and Orchard House of Granville