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The Group Travel Leader Going on Faith Select Traveler

Uniquely Ohio

When it comes to small meetings, Ohio offers planners a wealth of selling points.

The state is small enough that you’re never far from the conference centers and high-quality chains of a big city, and it is easily crisscrossed by interstates, but its cities are also compact enough that you don’t need to go far to find distinctive meeting and reception venues.

Between the urban cultural attractions like the internationally renowned Toledo Museum of Art, opportunities to step back in time at the John and Annie Glenn Historical Site and Dayton’s Carillon Historical Park, and the draw of the simpler life in the country at farms in Clinton County or Landoll’s Mohican Castle, Ohio packs more than its fair share of inspiring meeting locations.


Clinton County Farms

Clinton County

Between Cincinnati and Columbus, just six miles off the highway, Clinton County’s farm meeting venues welcome groups looking to bring something fresh to their meetings with a dose of fresh air.

“We’re incredibly lucky because we’re a very small county but, at the same time, the other southwest rural counties are even smaller and have no hotel accommodations,” said Leigh Anne Blackburn of the Clinton County Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We’re fortunate because people can come and stay for a couple days, and go to Horsefeathers Farm or Bonnybrook Farm. They’re both out in the country but have sheltered places for meetings and meals.”

Horsefeathers Farm specializes in Australian animals, including emus and wallabies, which owner Bob Heyob breeds in conjunction with the Columbus and Cincinnati zoos. For meetings and mealtimes, groups can use the lakeside shelter house, but out-of-the-box experiences such as team-building activities at the farm’s stream, guided nature walks with Heyob and playing with baby wallabies at the propagation center are the highlights at the farm.

Though Horsefeathers is more of a walk on the wild side than your typical farm, Bonnybrook Farms takes all the usual country favorites, from the petting zoo to fall festivals, and turns things up a notch. The stables are large enough to bring a whole group out horseback riding, and giant slingshots turn pumpkin season into a prime competitive team-building activity. Groups can also do themed Civil War and other period evenings with professional actors who work for the farm.

“For an afternoon off after a lunch at the huge shelter — they call it the Gathering Barn — people can go hiking and then take a wagon ride all around the 370-acre farm and get the history of the area, and end up at another part of the farm for s’mores around the fire,” said Blackburn.


John and Annie Glenn Historic Site

New Concord

Housed in the boyhood home of John Glenn, the first American to orbit the earth and Ohio’s senator for 25 years, the John and Annie Glenn Historic Site honors the lives of John Glenn and his wife, Annie, and the times that shaped them, namely the Great Depression and World War II.

This historic house museum has one main space for events in the classroom and visitor center, which is ideal for 30 people seated for dining or 60 for a reception. In fair weather, the lawn can accommodate an additional 60 diners in a tented area.

Thanks to a combination of artifacts, historical re-enactors and a video welcome from Glenn himself, a pre-event house tour is a highlight for guests. “They get a living-history lesson, so on any given day, it could be a young John; his parents, Herschel and Clara; or some of the many boarders who passed through the home over the years,” said education director Joanna Duncan.

Following the tour of the main house, volunteers escort groups to the four rooms on the top floor where personal items from Glenn are displayed just as they were when he was growing up, without the usual museum glass separating visitors from the historic objects. One upstairs room is also dedicated to his mementos from his adventures in space. Before events, staff can accommodate groups of a variety of sizes on tours of the historic house museum by splitting up the group and rotating smaller groups through different sections of the tour.

Though the museum is open to the public only May 1 through October 30, it is available for private events year-round. Duncan advised that the site can be busy with tour bus and school groups during the period it is open to the public, so the offseason can be the best time to hold a private event.

Each spring, the foundation hosts an event honoring remarkable women around the time of Annie Glenn’s birthday and a space camp for John Glenn’s birthday at the beginning of July. Next year will be Glenn’s 95th birthday.