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GOF Conference is a Penn Dutch Treat

Photos by David Malhalb, courtesy MNS Photo/M News Service

LANCASTER, Pennsylvania — The 2013 Going On Faith Conference was held in one of America’s iconic faith-based destinations when more than 300 delegates gathered September 4-6 for their annual meeting in Pennsylvania Dutch Country. Faith-based travel planners from 20 states joined destination representatives from the United States, Canada, Israel, Germany and the Bahamas for business appointments, educational sessions and networking.

“Our numbers were noticeably up this yea, and it’s apparent that faith-based travel is rebounding right along with the other segments of the industry,” said Joe Cappuzzello, president and CEO of the conference. “We had presentations here from sponsors representing Jordan and Israel, and we enjoyed an incredible evening at Sight and Sound Theatre, where our delegates enjoyed a spectacular production of ‘Noah.’ It was a great week.”

The Pennsylvania Dutch Convention and Visitors Bureau hosted the event and was instrumental in creating a memorable dine-around event where delegates enjoyed meals at many of the city’s signature restaurants. In addition to the Amish culture that is highlighted in the region, Lancaster has developed a thriving local dining scene that is gaining national recognition.

The bureau also organized extensive sightseeing in the area. Six afternoon mystery tours covered different areas of the Amish region and offered stops at Amish farms, restaurants, gift shops and related destinations.

One of the highlights of the three days was a presentation by Anne Beiler, the founder of Auntie Anne’s Soft Pretzels. A Lancaster-area native and a former Amish homemaker, Beiler created a worldwide pretzel franchise company that now has stores in 26 foreign countries.

“Anne Beiler was the inspiration we hoped she’d be,” said conference partner Charlie Presley. “When we learned that Anne was a native to the area, we had to have her come offer our keynote address. She’s a remarkable woman and businessperson.”