OTTUMWA — The Ottumwa Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) wants to promote Ottumwa as “the place to be for conferences.” They got a helping hand Friday from residents who volunteered for a promotional video.
“The whole idea is we didn’t want to take empty shots,” CVB Executive Director Andy Wartenburg said. “We wanted to pretend we were filming. When we try and get conferences here, we’re always competing against bigger places. We thought we would do something a little different. We wanted to submit a video about bringing a group to Ottumwa, even shooting Bridge View and shooting restaurants, the hotel, the Gothic House, etc.”
Wartenburg said having Wapello County Naturalist Annette Wittrock give a presentation about winter birds before filming helped the videographer capture the idea of a full room at Bridge View.
Wittrock, a nature and bird lover, was more than happy to share her knowledge of the winter birds and donate her time to be in the video.
“If this is gonna help bring people into the Ottumwa area and our area, then I wanted to be a part of that,” she said. “We’re willing to help them if they help us. It’s a give back for all the help they give us, so it’s worth it.
“It will draw in some people,” she added. “Pioneer Ridge is an important bird area that’s also part of the bird conservation area. This area of the state is a great birding area. We get birds that other people don’t have, even in Memorial Park we have Mississippi kites. This is one of the only places in Iowa they nest.”
Isaac Campbell gave direction as to where he wanted participants to stand. It began with compiling footage and sharing ideas with Wartenburg about the vision for the short video.
“Andy’s really creative and open to different ideas,” he said. “Anytime we can showcase our community in a different way, it’s gonna benefit everybody — I want in. The video will be a montage of these different experiences throughout the three days in Ottumwa.”
Instead of using scripted lines, Campbell decided to go with another approach. He wanted people to simply speak to one another and let the visuals and setting speak for itself. To make it personal, Campbell put a GoPro camera on CVB Executive Assistant Laura Carrell.
“We decided to go with this point-of-view video,” he said, “just to show, rather than show people what we see at a meeting in Ottumwa, by setting up your standard camera, tripod those things, we wanted to show what people could expect from their own point-of-view at a meeting.”
Rose Ingersoll was happy to participate. She initially came for Wittrock’s winter birds presentation, but after hearing CVB needed more people, she decided to take initiative.
“I didn’t expect to be asked to do anything,” she said. “I thought I’d be in the background, but when I was asked, I thought I’d smile and do it.”
Ingersoll moved to Ottumwa four months ago from Des Moines and hadn’t had a chance to be inside Bridge View. Participating was her way of getting to know more Ottumwans and Bridge View’s history. She likes the friendly people and the birds that congregate around the center. Although she has been here for a short amount of time, she encourages people to host a conference or even move to Ottumwa.
“There is a wonderful history in Wapello County,” she said, “to visit the museum by the railroad station. The river is beautiful and the people are so welcoming. You cannot get any better service in the community than here, it’s a wonderful place.”
Campbell was pleased with the film and excited to see it come out sometime in February. In the meantime, he plans to edit the video and continue to tell others about Ottumwa.
“I have never come in contact with such a dedicated group of people in the community that are working towards the same thing,” he said. “Everyone in Ottumwa is active. They all devote a lot of time and energy to help grow their positions to help Ottumwa. That’s a positive energy that you don’t find in a lot of places. I’d say if you’re getting ready to move to Ottumwa, I’d say ‘get ready to get your gloves on and strap on your boots and get it work.’ It’s a great place to be.”