SATW Freelance Council Explores Columbus, Ohio

Members of the SATW Freelance Council recently spent time in Columbus, Ohio for their meeting hosted by Experience Columbus. As is usual with SATW meetings of travel writers and photographers, members wasted no time exploring the city for story ideas, networking with each other and honing their skills at professional development sessions. Members stayed at the elegant Hilton Columbus Downtown hotel where they were close to some of Columbus’ most exciting areas like the Short North Arts District and the North Market.

National Veterans Memorial and Museum – credit: Aerial Image Solutions
SATW Freelance Council opening reception – credit: Anietra Hamper

The meeting kicked off with an evening reception at the National Veterans Memorial and Museum. One of the newest museums in the city, it honors all veterans with exhibits that show visitors the perspectives of war from the personal stories and artifacts of the men and women who served. 

Columbus City Council President Shannon Hardin and restaurant entrepreneur Cameron Mitchell welcomed SATW members to the city. The weeklong visit to Columbus gave members time to explore the flavorful side of the city by tasting ethnic food from the diverse cultures that live there and indulging in homemade Jeni’s ice cream made from ingredients sourced at regional farms. SATW freelance members also got a behind-the-scenes look at the fashion and brewery industries that are thriving in Columbus.

Franklin Park Conservatory – credit: Experience Columbus

The Franklin Park Conservatory and the Columbus Zoo are two of Columbus’ top attractions and they did not disappoint SATW members. 

“Columbus was such a joy to explore. One of my favorite places was the Children’s Garden at the Franklin Park Conservatory,” said member Ann Bush in her Facebook post during the week.

Another popular excursion was the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum where writers and photographers learned about the vast collections of cartoon and graphic arts that are housed in the city and the internationally renowned artists who are Columbus natives.

Billy Ireland Cartoon Library – credit: Chez Chesak
Billy Ireland Cartoon Library – credit: Judy Wells

Additional excursions included Segway tours of downtown, hiking and birdwatching at the Scioto Audubon Metropark, socializing at Columbus’ rooftop bar Juniper and indulging in even more of the local food scene during a dine-around evening.

“I loved the cartoon tour – who knew? it was the best and could have taken a whole day. Perfect set-up because I saw so many instances of its influence throughout the city. The Veterans Memorial was a throat-grabber and the food scene, especially that served to us, was a gustatory joy. One of the best ever,” said SATW member Judy Wells.

Inside fashion studio of Celeste Malvar-Stewart – credit: Shannon Jack
SATW members exploring Columbus – credit: Shannon Jack

The fashion scene in Columbus surprised many members as they discovered that they city is the third fashion capital behind New York and Los Angeles. The travel writers and photographers enjoyed seeing the acclaimed Columbus College of Art and Design and going into the design studios of Celeste Malvar-Stewart who uses wool from a local sheep farm in her fashion creations.

SATW members visiting the Somali community in Columbus – credit: Shannon Jack

Columbus has the second largest Somali population in the United States so SATW members had a chance to find out more about the 60,000 Somalis who call the city home. They sampled Somali food and learned about the other ethnicities that have growing populations in the city.

Food Truck night for SATW members – credit: Anietra Hamper
Members socialize in The Barn at the Franklin Park Conservatory – credit: Anietra Hamper
Local makers showcase their products at The Barn event – credit: Anietra Hamper

While much of the Freelance Council meeting was dedicated to gathering story ideas from around Columbus, the writers and photographers who came from throughout the United States and Canada also enjoyed opportunities to network with colleagues. An evening Food Truck event at the Franklin Park Conservatory’s The Barn provided a perfect casual evening to relax and share stories of recent travels. Local makers and musicians joined in the evening to showcase locally owned businesses and products.

Professional Development panel – credit: Anietra Hamper

The professional development sessions throughout the week gave Freelance Council members the opportunity to sharpen their skills and even connect with editors who came to town as guest panelists. Sessions ranged from a panel of experts on the food, fashion and art industries to editors from various city magazines. The professional development capped off with an “American Travel Writers Idol” event with Men’s Journaleditor, Ryan Krogh.

The travel writers and photographers also gave back to the Columbus community by donating books that they brought with them in their suitcases to donate to the Child Development Council of Franklin County.

“Experience Columbus knocked themselves out to provide Freelance Council members with great story ideas,” said Freelance Council Chair Carole Terwilliger Meyers.  “My only complaint is that I didn’t have another day or two in town to visit the many places that remain on my to-see list.”  

Farewell dinner at The Kitchen – credit: Anietra Hamper

Thank you to Experience Columbus for rolling out the red carpet for the SATW Freelance Council. We look forward to seeing the great coverage of the city in the many publications and on the websites that members represent in the coming weeks and months.