Beyond the Lecture Hall: Getting the Most of Your MVC Experience

MVC 2024 Preview Series See All Episodes »

With just one week left before the 2024 Midwest Veterinary Conference kicks off in Columbus, Ohio, we have only two episodes left in our MVC Preview Series. So far, you’ve gotten a pretty good snapshot of what you can expect to learn at the conference, but as those of you who have attended in the past already know, the MVC is more than outstanding education.  So, for our last two episodes, we’re doing something a little different. We’re going to help you get the most of your MVC experience, outside the four walls of the lecture hall.

Episode Guest

Zach Warmouth


Zach is a Destination Services Manager for Experience Columbus, the travel and visitors bureau for Columbus, Ohio.

Featuring 325+ hours of live and on-demand CE in 25 tracks, 100+ expert speakers, and nearly 200 exhibitors, the 2024 Midwest Veterinary Conference is packed full of opportunities to learn and engage. Registration is now open!


Mia Cunningham: Before we jump to our conversation was that you and I should talk a little bit about the MVC-hosted events that are coming up this year. Let’s just kind of go chronologically, starting with Wednesday.

Krysten Bennett: Okay. So the conference doesn’t officially kick off until Thursday, but obviously staff will be on site setting up the day before.

MC: So for those of you listening, that means do not call us. We will not be here.

KB: That’s right. But we do plan to open up registration for about 90 minutes for anyone who’s coming in on Wednesday and wants to register or just pick up their program materials. So that’s from 5 to 6:30 p.m..

MC: And for a reminder, for those who just may need it, we’re going to be an exhibit hall a of the Greater Columbus Convention Center. So on Thursday, however, is a different story. And we officially open our doors at 7 a.m. registration in material pickup. So anyone who did not register in advance will be able to register in person. So don’t fret. You can come and still be a part of the action. It just might take a little longer to get you going, but we will take care of you. And as a forewarning, Thursday mornings are typically bananas. So we strongly recommend that you register beforehand. But again, in the event that you didn’t, we’ll get you taken care of.

KB: But yeah, online registration will remain open through the end of the live conference. So you can decide at the very last minute that you’re going to attend and still avoid standing in line. And then you can just stop by the bash printing station and hallway of the convention center, print your badge, grab your materials and go.

MC: So we’re crossing our fingers. It should be seamless, right, Krysten?

KB: That’s the goal. We’ll see if it plays out!

MC: I hope so. So even if you are pre-registered, you know, no matter what day you’re arriving, you’ll want to give yourself plenty of time for travel and parking. Getting to Hall A can be a hike. And we also have some competing events. So you want to make sure that you give yourself enough time, if possible, to get to your sessions.

KB: And speaking of events, we’ve got some great stuff this year, new and old. First up on Thursday is the Shelter Animal Reception. It’s sponsored by Merck Animal Health, and it’s for shelter professionals to network, have a drink and just kind of unwind after a long day of sessions. 

Now, on last week’s show, you talked to Steven Budsburg, who’s part of the new canine spectrum of care track, and he teased the afternoon coffee break that’s the Stanton Foundation is hosting. Mia, can you remind us what that’s all about?

MC: Absolutely. So the coffee break is a great opportunity for attendees to meet in network with speakers from the Canine Spectrum of Cure track programing. Right before their final session of the day, which happens to be a panel discussion. So the panelists are going to discuss practical applications of spectrum of care in clinics and hospitals. And the panelists include Dr. Mike Dyer, Dr. Robert Knapp, who are both practice owners. And then we’ve got clinical scientist Dr. Jenessa Winston, emergency specialist Dr. Elizabeth Rozanski, and community med professor Dr. Emily McCobb. So the coffee break is going to be held again on Friday, February 23rd, from 3:45 to 4 p.m. in room B230 in the Greater Columbus Convention Center. So it’s open to all attendees while supplies last. So it’s on a first come, first serve basis. So make sure you add it to your calendar and come join us.

KB: All this sounds great, but I got to tell you, the thing I’m really excited about is our first-ever Exhibit Hall Happy Hour on Friday night. So that is 5 to 7 p.m. where we’re keeping the exhibit hall open and an extra hour so you can come in and grab a drink and network and it’s going to be a really good time.

MC: So how many companies are participating? 

KB: Gosh, I think we have 15 or 16 different companies. That equates to something like 1,300 drink tickets that are up for grabs. So there’s plenty for everyone to come and grab a free drink. Participating exhibitors are going to be handing out drink tickets throughout the day on Thursday and Friday, so you’re definitely going to want to explore the hall during your downtime.

MC: So just to make sure I’m clear of the participating companies, attendees need to go visit those specific booths to acquire drink tickets.

KB: Correct.

MC: Okay. Now, can they bring a friend?

KB: Yes! So during the happy hour, we are opening the exhibit hall to one and all. You can bring a colleague who’s not registered, a friend, a spouse. They need to be accompanied by somebody who has a badge. So don’t just send them off by themselves. But yes, absolutely. Bring your friends.

MC: And we want to make sure we’re talking about friends of the two-legged variety, not four. Correct?

KB: That is correct. A very important distinction.

MC: Yeah. Okay. Thank you.

KB: Now, suppose that we’re looking for something to do after happy hour. Isn’t there a Blue Jackets game on Friday evening?

MC: There is. So the Columbus Blue Jackets take on the Buffalo Sabers at 7 p.m. and Nationwide Arena, which is either a quick walk, depending on how you’re feeling or a short Uber ride from the convention center. And the Ohio Animal Health Foundation is selling tickets to help continue their mission of finding solutions for the challenges animals and their caregivers face. So 10 to $20 of each tickets all will be donated to the Ohio Animal Health Foundation to help them continue their work. And so we have some upper Bowl tickets that are available for $45 each. Or if you want to get a little closer to the action. We’ve got lower bowl tickets available for $75 each. So tickets can be purchased by visiting

KB: And it’s important to note that you have to purchase the tickets through this link in order for it to count towards our fundraiser. So we’ll drop that URL in the show notes.

MC: Awesome. So another wonderful event we have going on until now and just make sure our technician specifically they don’t go too hard on Friday night because Saturday is 7:30 a.m. We’re hosting a new event for technicians. It’s sponsored by Dechra, and the Technician Appreciation Breakfast is a panel discussion is open to all technician attendees.

KB: There will be a light breakfast followed by discussion of advancement, education and other opportunities for technicians to take their careers to the next level. And we have several panelists in different areas of veterinary medicine who are going to share their experiences and answer questions.

MC: And it sounds like a really cool one. I’m hoping it’ll be well attended. 

KB: I hope so. 

MC: So now that we’ve talk about the events that are going on, I want to hear a little bit more about this mobile app, especially because we’ve been like really brainstorming the challenges here. So I want to talk about that.

KB: Yeah. So this is going to be really fun. The mobile app game is a just a little friendly competition to encourage attendees to engage, learn more about the MVC and even explore Columbus. There are going to be a bunch of different challenges for attendees to complete, and as they do so, they will earn points and those points help them climb the leaderboard. And then at the end of the MVC, the two top point earners will win a prize.

MC: But what’s on the line? What are they going to win?

KB: We are going to be giving away two $250 gift cards. So it’s not an insignificant amount.

MC: So it sounds like I need to come up with a cover name so I can play! So if I were to come up with a cover name, do you have any tips on the best way to earn points or as many points as possible?

KB: Yeah. So this year we have what we’re calling the Exhibit Hall Explorer Badge, which awards you points for visiting specific exhibitors and scanning a QR code in their booth. So you’ll definitely want to stop by those participating exhibitors to grab those points. And there’s also going to be a bunch of other challenges, too, and some that you can complete more than once. Some are easy, like taking a session survey or viewing an exhibitor’s profile. And then there are some that require a little bit more effort, like a mini scavenger hunt, participating in the in-app discussion boards, attending a special event, things like that.

MC: So make sure you’re paying attention to taking notes, listeners! And I guess this knocked me out of the running, because I very rarely get anywhere but behind the registration desk there. So if you see us, come give us a hug and just tell us that we’re doing an awesome job. We’ll probably need it!

KB: And if not hugs, we will definitely accept baked goods. Now, that’s it for me, but keep listening for Mia’s conversation with Zach, coming up next.

Mia Cunningham: Hey, hey, listeners, my name is Mia Cunningham, and I’m very pleased to be joined by Zach Warmouth of Experience Columbus. He is back to talk to us about everything that’s going on in Columbus during the Midwest Veterinary Conference. The conference is rapidly approaching. So as of February 22nd, we will be on site. And so Zach is here to share what’s going on in our fair city during that time. So great to have you back, Zach.

Zach Warmouth: Yeah, thank you for having me. Very excited. You know, and as we talked about a little bit before, I always love working with your group and helping welcome the attendees in any way I can. So, super excited to be back.

MC: Well, thank you. So as a refresher, can you just remind people what Experience Columbus is and your role there?

ZW: Yeah. So Experience Columbus is the convention and visitors bureau for Greater Columbus. I am a destination services manager, so I assist with any conventions or meetings coming in, mostly downtown at the convention center and usually assisting the meeting planners basically help to welcome their attendees or have this great event experience as they can. We’ve been referred to as the Google of the city, you know, when you don’t know for sure what to find. So yeah, so we’re kind of that that third party middleman, not really third party but that middleman to to really help to help the meeting plan and not have to worry about a lot of a lot of that welcoming stuff.

MC: And you guys do a great job because we’ve got a lot of resources online. Can you tell us a little bit about your website and how people might utilize it while they’re here?

ZW: Yeah, absolutely. So our marketing team does a great job with our website, keeping it updated on our website. If you just go to, from there you can really find anything that you might be looking for. There is a calendar of events for it for the week and if you wanted to filter out the dates that you’re here, check and see what else is going on during and around the event.

If you wanted to stay a couple of days extra, you can find dining information, traction information. There is so much on there and it’s all digital. And the great thing too is a lot of our pieces are all digital as well. So restaurant maps, you know, things to do guides. Our visitor guide is also digital, so that way you don’t have to carry around extra stuff.

And but I would highly suggest to go on there and do a search. There’s also some tabs that are specific to attendees for conventions, so please feel free to go take a peek and look for anything that you need. It’s really helpful.

MC: So you touched on this a little bit. It’s about the digital material that’s there, and I think we had you on last year. You talked about an app that you guys have rolled out. So is that app still available for people to use?

ZW: So it’s not in an app that you download, but there is a on the website too in the eye and on our restaurant maps. If you see them, there is a QR code that leads to it. We have a an attendee savings pass that people can download. From there it takes you to a link to the website and then you download those or those codes for whichever business and deal that you see.

So they’re there participating partners of ours that were willing to give out some sort of discount or freebie to any convention and meeting attendees. So that’s, that’s probably, I think what you’re referring to. But yeah, we don’t have a downloadable app. We were talking about it, but it hasn’t gotten any further than that. I think we’ve just stuck with the website for now.

MC: But it’s, it’s, I think sometimes I know for me specifically, like I have way too many apps, so that’s a nice alternative. And I think for people to be able to use. So I am curious though, because you said you specialize in the Greater Columbus Convention Center area. So like one of the perks of your job is it to like kind of just go out and experience some of these restaurants, so you can make personal recommendations?

ZW: Yeah. That’s actually anytime I go somewhere near out to dinner, I call it research and development, just so I have a good excuse to go do it. But now we, we do. We make sure that we are because we, you know, we have to be we want to make sure that we’re when people ask us recommendations that we’re not just pulling the a list that somebody told us to say, you know, we want to make sure that they’re they’re heartfelt and that we we really give, you know, true recommendations of where we would go.

And that’s a that’s important to us because I think that all goes to the experience, too, for the attendees who don’t. A lot of us, I think for for your group or you may have a lot of repeat attendees since you guys are an annual group, but there are new new folks who come in and we just want to make sure that they have as good of an experience to say, Yeah, we do.

We like to go out and we see we do a lot of visits to different venues, different to new restaurants, especially when they open like a new one. I think they were open last year, but that the Parlay Sporting Club, that restaurant that’s literally directly across the street on the north end of the building, you know they had us over when that when they opened and stuff like that you know that’s that’s nice to to see because those are things that attendees are going to be experiencing firsthand. And if we don’t know what we’re sending them to, it’s you know, it could be a shot in the dark.

MC: So given that, could you give me like your top three restaurants that we recommend near or around the convention center, or even the Short North, because that’s really close to the convention center, right?

ZW: Yeah, Yeah, absolutely. I would say my number one recommendation always, especially for convention attendees, is always the North Market. And also this is a good time to call out that the North Market is still under construction up front but it is open during throughout the whole construction. It may not look like it, but it definitely is. You just have to go down—I forget what street it is now, but it’s the street where the Hampton is. So it’s just on that other the other side of it. If you exit outside the Arnold Statue Plaza, then go straight. You can enter into the North Market from there. So I just wanted to call that out because that’s definitely a favorite of mine.

The further up in the Short North, I’ve always loved the Cameron Mitchell restaurants. I like Marcella’s, and The Pearl is really great. And then I did the parlay, that new one that I mentioned that I really liked that recently, especially since it’s so close. And then my I’ll give one more and then I always I always like Bali’s to Bali’s is directly across High street from the convention center so that one so close and they brew their own beer for any beer lovers.

MC: Well I also read on your website earlier today that Columbus has two chefs that have been selected for the James Beard Foundation as semifinalists for the 2024 Restaurant and Chef Awards. Can you tell me a little bit more about that and where those restaurants are operate out of?

ZW: So, yes, I can I can give you the full lowdown. BJ Lieberman, chef/owner of Hiraeth, Chapman’s Eat Market and Ginger Rabbit; and Avishar Barua, chef/owner of Agni and Joya’s, were named semifinalists in the Best Chef: Great Lakes category. So I’ve had I’ve been able to go to a couple of those. The Chapman’s Eat Market is amazing. It’s down in German Village, so that’s Uber territory, just to make that known that it’s not drivable. And then Ginger Rabbit, I have not been to eat, but we have been there to visit. It’s really nice. It’s really cool, because, you know, I think we’ve always known that we’ve had great chefs and great restaurants. But to now have two of our chefs being named on this, you know, this larger scale is just so exciting. We know the talent that’s here, and just to get have them get the recognition is is amazing.

MC: Ginger Rabbit, that’s the only one on there that the list that you mentioned that I’ve attended. It was more tapas, but it was it was really great. And just the experience there, like the vibe is kind of like a little speakeasy and it’s just down the street, so it is very accessible from the convention center. I don’t know that it’s walking distance, but definitely I think a short Uber ride from the convention center for anybody who might be interested.

So I know the weather in Ohio in February can be very tricky. There have been years where it’s been spring-like temperatures, and then years where it’s been very cold. So do you have any favorite things to do indoors? And then, do you have any recommendations for outdoor sites for people to visit if we happen to have some amazing spring-like with weather?

ZW: Absolutely. The first few go-to attractions that are still I would say are in Uber territory or driving territory would be definitely COSI, the science museum. It was a number one science museum again, I think this year, this past year, and it’s just so cool. And they always have some great rotating exhibits coming through—those huge, large-scale rotating exhibits. And then people would travel all over for to see. So definitely COSI. 

Then for any veterans or anybody who is just interested in and learning more about, you know, veterans of our military from all branches. The National Veterans Memorial Museum is amazing. Any time, any chance we get to go, it’s it’s really amazing. So I highly recommend seeing that if you have it.

And then Franklin Park Conservatory is nice because a large majority of that is indoors, but they do have the outdoor portion as well. So if you can plan a day for it and then really get to experience it, no matter what the weather is. So that would be great. 

And then if the weather is nice, I would say, we have so many great walking trails and metro parks around here. We have some that are a little bit further out, but I recommend you go down to the Scioto Mile along the river and just take, you know, walk around. That’s what I love so much about our city is, you know, there’s just there’s so much green space available and a lot of walking trails. So, yeah, I would I would recommend that.

And then also if, if the weather is nice, getting up to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. It’s about a 30-minute drive outside the city, but they have a lot of new stuff there for people who haven’t been there in a while. So I would highly recommend getting up there if you have the time and if you if the weather so calls for it.

MC: That’s always the trick. Well, thank you for all the wonderful suggestions. Is there anything else you’d like to add before I let you go?

ZW: No, I don’t think so, but if there’s anything anybody needs, feel free to reach out to Experience Columbus and we’d be happy to help in pointing in the right direction.

Leave a Reply