FORT WAYNE — Lorie Juliano had always regarded her family’s belief that distant relatives had come to America on the Mayflower as the equivalent of an urban legend.
But when Allen County Public Library officials handed her a binder of her family’s history, she found out it was true.
“It’s amazing. Unbelievable,” Juliano said of the library’s vaunted genealogy department. “The amount of research that’s available here, the professionalism of the staff – all that comes through.”
Of course, Juliano wasn’t just any visitor. She was one of 15 international travel writers visiting Fort Wayne on Tuesday, here on a day trip from the Society of American Travel Writers convention in Indianapolis this week.
The nearly 300 travel writers at the convention had a choice of day trips; those choosing Fort Wayne visited Vera Bradley, the Joseph Decuis restaurant and farm in Roanoke, the library and Parkview Field.
Each writer had been asked to give as much of their family tree as they knew. When they arrived at the library, the staff had a binder prepared for each, detailing their family history.
“That was a big ‘wow’ factor,” Visit Fort Wayne’s Kristen Guthrie said. “This is a great opportunity for Fort Wayne to have these travel writers here so they can share Fort Wayne with their readers.”
Juliano, from Boston, said she was very impressed by Fort Wayne.
“It’s not only got that Midwestern hospitality, but it also has that small-town feel with all the amenities of a big city,” she said.
The group’s Laura Daily said Fort Wayne was unexpectedly fascinating. She lives in Denver and is a contributing editor for AARP Magazine and writes for AAA publications and Consumer Reports.
“I love what I call midsize cities because they’re manageable, you can explore them and see everything,” Daily said. “People are looking for destinations with a lot of value for their dollar, and if you’ve got a world-class zoo, a great library and a ballpark, you’ve got a lot of bang for your buck.”
She said Fort Wayne – despite a lack of mountains or shoreline – should be considered a destination.
“The things that make a city a great place to live also make it a great place to visit,” Daily said.