2013 Progress Report for The Dixie
The Dixie underwent extensive renovations and repairs from fall 2009 to spring 2010. The Dixie was dry docked on the beach at the North Webster Town Park in the fall for the DNR inspection which is required every 5 years in the spring. During the dry docking, cleaning and repairs were done to the stern and bow. New rudders were built, a new stairway to the upper deck was built, painting was done in various areas, the electric motor was repaired and restored, and a new pilot house was built.
The boat was transported on special low-boy equipment from the park to an off-site facility. The superstructure and the sternwheel mountings were disassembled to allow for the spectacular move. The flooring in the lower interior was removed to allow the bottom of the steel hull to be replaced. Following the painting of the new hull inside and out, the flooring was replaced with new flooring. Then the boat was moved back to the park for necessary reassembly and launched for the 2010 season during the Dixie’s 81st Birthday Party celebration on July 17th!
Other new additions in 2010 included additional seating at the dock for passengers waiting to ride and a beautiful sign at the dock recognizing the Dixie as being on the National Registry of Historic Places. Both of these additions were made possible through money from specific donors. In the spring of 2012 DSI replaced the old generator set which generates electricity to run the motor which turns the paddlewheel to propel the boat. The new gen-set is smaller, but is more powerful and is cooled by lake water.
Special thanks for these outstanding improvements as well as others go to DSI board member Tom Plew and many volunteers and local businesses!
Even though the Save the Dixie fundraising campaign was successful and was brought to a close in the spring of 2009, the Dixie organization is in the process of having to pay off a large loan for the extensive necessary hull repairs. There also are still a number of necessary renovations to be done. Contributions are still needed to help maintain and renovate our historic treasure in both the short and long terms. Tax deductable donations may be sent to: Dixie Sternwheeler, P.O. Box 674, North Webster, IN 46555.
DSI has also partnered with the Kosciusko County Community Foundation to establish the structure for an endowment fund. Many thanks to the donors who provided initial funds for this account.
Relationships and Operations
DSI board member and Captain Dave Tranter has developed an extensive training program and certification program for new captains. This is part of ongoing improvement initiatives and our top goal of complete boating safety for our boat, crew, and passengers.
The boat’s operating schedule offers cruises departing in 90 minute intervals. The longer cruise now generally includes more of Echo Bay and Webster Bay. This also allows our crew a better opportunity to remain on schedule each evening. Pricing for these expanded cruises still remains at $7.00 per person.
The Dixie has added multiple promotional methods for this season to increase ridership and charters. This includes well-placed professional billboards, advertisements in a number tourism directories, and an increasing partnership with the Kosciusko County Visitors Bureau. The Dixie was approved for participation in the Art and Earth Trail tourism project and was featured in the Vera Bradley catalog and the Outdoor Indiana magazine, among other publications.
Two Dixie books are now for sale in the concession stand. Enjoy an updated and expanded history book as well as an activity book for children with games, coloring, and details about the Dixie and Webster Lake. Thanks to all who worked on these, including Advisory Board member Sheryl Sackett-Francik who has created many of the Dixie’s graphics for the books, billboards, and more!
There are more signs this year reminding people of the boat and directing them to the Dixie Landing. These include a “Ride the Dixie” sign atop both of the main town signs (thanks to the North Webster Chamber of Commerce) and Indiana road signs directing people to the boat as a historical tourist attraction. Thank you to Chuck Lawrance from Fisherman Cove who is donating part of his signage to the Dixie on St. Rd. 13 south of Link’s Accounting office. The sign next to the south parking lot of Mutual Bank was rejuvenated by volunteer Jerry Johnson from Lake Tippecanoe!
The Dixie continues to be actively involved in North Webster’s Mermaid Festival. DSI President Karilyn Metcalf organizes participation in the official festival program book, orchestrates the booth in the Merchant’s Building, and organizes the parade entry.
DSI continues its mutually beneficial partnership with the Lakeview Pizza King restaurant for ticket sales. Internal procedures are under the leadership of DSI board member and Captain Jodie Pensinger.
The new “Ride the Dixie” slogan was adopted. As part of this, the new website is: www.ridethedixie.org and the new e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-888-80-DIXIE (34943). The Dixie also has her own Facebook page!
The “Voice of the Dixie” and DSI board member Bob Barnes has updated the boat’s professional tour commentary and music as well as our phone recordings. Our community organization is very fortunate to have a pro voice artist like Bob as a dedicated member of the Dixie Family. Bob also provides live music during the Dixie Boat's 9pm Saturday night twilight cruise.
The great people associated with the Dixie are truly her greatest asset. DSI is most thankful for the many people that contribute actively as members of our corporate Board , as our “Friends of the Dixie” Volunteers Advisory Board, as crew members, and as volunteers in a variety of ways.
The Chamber of Commerce renamed “Sidewalk Days” , its main annual business event, to “Dixie Days” in recognition of the boat as a core community symbol for over 80 years. What an honor this is for the Dixie! Dixie Days runs from Friday, July 26th through Saturday, July 27th this year.
DSI is also grateful for the ongoing support of the local and regional business communities, many area and visiting individuals, and a number of organizations. The direct and in-kind contributions are invaluable and are greatly appreciated!
Lastly and importantly, we thank the thousands of people who support the Dixie as her customers and friends: passengers, concession customers, those who charter the boat, and more. There were over 12,000 such people last year and we look forward to even more in the future!
Karilyn S. Metcalf, President, Dixie Sternwheeler, Inc.
Dates to remember in 2013:
North Webster Mermaid Festival June 26-29
Dixie Fireworks Cruise ($10 per ticket) July 6 (Rain Date July 7)
(tickets go on sale at ticket booth at 9:00 a.m. on July 5th)
Dixie 84th Birthday Cruises July 20
North Webster Dixie Days July 26 & 27