Rural Canadians learn from U.S. region: Part 14

We had completed our tour of the Finger Lakes. The two-day, one-night trip by rural small business owners from Norfolk County, Canada, was organized by Norfolk County Tourism & Economic Development and sponsored by Ontario’s Southwest Tourism.

Ryan at The Combine

Ryan Rivard of The Combine describes the appetizers he has served the group / Photo: Melissa Collver

During our last meal together, the chef/owner of The Combine in Norfolk County, Ryan Rivard, invited the group to reconvene at his restaurant in two weeks time, to debrief and share experiences.

In the meantime, comments were gathered from the participants on the trip, who generally found value in the Finger Lakes Study Tour.

“Well organized, good itinerary, amazing inclusions! Only by working together will we be able to redevelop our area,” said one participant

“Good for local businesses and Norfolk staff to be able to experience the up and downs of economic development in small towns in the Finger Lakes area,” said another. “With such a wide selection of places to visit there was something for everyone to learn. Thank You! I have a lot of good usable info that can be incorporated in our business.”

“I learned that everyone every now and again runs into adversity. Every village, town, city or establishment has obstacles. I plan on helping to meet the challenges we have face on, to keep thinking of ways to improve.”

Menu

Participants in the Finger Lakes Study Tour reconvened at The Combine Restaurant two weeks after the trip to share ideas. Thanks Ryan for inviting us! / Photo: Melissa Collver

Asked if any bright ideas were discovered during the tour, one participant commented: “Not one particular idea, but lots of food for thought. My wheels are still turning, I have researched some of the places we visited. I haven’t stopped talking about it.”

Two weeks later, most of the group gathered at The Combine. Chef Ryan served a mind-blowing combination of dishes, including Norfolk County ingredients such as YU Ranch beef, Round Plains sweet potatoes and Pristine Gourmet oils. The food was complemented by pairings of local wine from Burning Kiln and Bonnieheath, hard cider from Villa Nova Estate Winery, and “Sweet Leaf” craft beer from the Blue Elephant Craft Brewhouse. Ryan also incorporated butternut squash seed oil from the Finger Lakes into the aioli in his Perch Tacos.

Many ideas and experiences were shared. The group also received copies of the Finger Lakes Study Tour Report, which can be downloaded at norfolkbusiness.ca/news/finger-lakes-report/.

Thanks again to Southwest Ontario Tourism Corp., and Norfolk County Tourism & Economic Development, all the hosts and all the participants, for making this initiative a great success.

See photos of the trip on the Invest in Norfolk facebook page.

Bonnie Preece & Ron Barr

Bonnie Preece & Ron Barr

Our friends from Rushcreek Winery, who joined the tour, wrote two excellent blog posts about their experiences. Check them out at:

Finger Lakes Study Tour blog posts

  • Part 1: Wine & Culinary Centre | Technology Farm
  • Part 2: Winewagen Tours
  • Part 3: Weaverview Farms | Milly’s Pantry
  • Part 4: Yates County Arts Centre | Finger Lakes Ec Dev
  • Part 5: Climbing Bines Hop Yard & Brewery
  • Part 6: Wiemer Vineyards | Glenora Cellars
  • Part 7: Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel | Ice Bar
  • Part 8: Finger Lakes Distilling
  • Part 9: Cornell Lab of Ornithology | Ithaca Commons
  • Part 10: Americana Vineyards
  • Part 11: Seneca County Army Depot
  • Part 12: Seneca Falls
  • Part 13: Warfields Restaurant
  • Part 14: Debriefing at The Combine

(c) 2015 Clark Hoskin

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Rural Canadians learn from U.S. region: Part 13

Warfields for dinner

Our group dined at Warfields as our tour drew to a close / Photo: Clark Hoskin

Staying on the theme of supporting rural and small businesses, the final leg of our trip took us west via Highway 5/20 to the town of Clifton Springs. Instead of eating our dinner at a service centre food court on the Interstate, our last stop of the tour was Warfields, a restaurant and bakery.

The tour of the Finger Lakes by rural small business owners from Norfolk County, Canada, was organized by Norfolk County Tourism & Economic Development and sponsored by Ontario’s Southwest Tourism.

We were greeted by Jamie Noga of the Clifton Springs Chamber of Commerce, who thanked the group for supporting this small town, with its history of sulphur springs with curative powers. In fact, the town’s hospital is located next to the historic Clifton Springs Sanitorium Company, built in 1850 to provide primary and specialty care to the people of the Finger Lakes.

“I found it very interesting to hear that other towns have had similar problems with revitalizing what should be the hub of the community. It was good to know that it could be done with the right organizations all working together to build and promote the cores in their counties.” – comment from one of our participants

The group enjoyed an excellent meal coordinated by Warfields’ Banquet Manager, Diane Fabiaszak, and prepared by Chef Phil Yautzy. Four dinner options were provided for our group to choose from, and many guests purchased pastries and cookies at the bakery after dinner.

Finger Lakes sign

Finger Lakes sign / Photo: Clark Hoskin

Our group bade farewell to the Finger Lakes and headed back to Canada. The bus arrived at the Norfolk County Fairgrounds after 11 p.m. on March 4.

Read Part 14 to find out what happened after the tour!

See photos of the trip on the Invest in Norfolk facebook page.

Finger Lakes Study Tour blog posts

  • Part 1: Wine & Culinary Centre | Technology Farm
  • Part 2: Winewagen Tours
  • Part 3: Weaverview Farms | Milly’s Pantry
  • Part 4: Yates County Arts Centre | Finger Lakes Ec Dev
  • Part 5: Climbing Bines Hop Yard & Brewery
  • Part 6: Wiemer Vineyards | Glenora Cellars
  • Part 7: Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel | Ice Bar
  • Part 8: Finger Lakes Distilling
  • Part 9: Cornell Lab of Ornithology | Ithaca Commons
  • Part 10: Americana Vineyards
  • Part 11: Seneca County Army Depot
  • Part 12: Seneca Falls
  • Part 13: Warfields Restaurant
  • Part 14: Debriefing at The Combine

(c) 2015 Clark Hoskin

Rural Canadians learn from U.S. region: Part 12

Seneca Falls was our next stop. This small town is working hard from many angles to revitalize its local economy and tourist attractions.

The tour of the Finger Lakes by rural small business owners from Norfolk County, Canada, was organized by Norfolk County Tourism & Economic Development and sponsored by Ontario’s Southwest Tourism.

Bronze statues

Bronze statues in the Women’s Rights National Historic Park / Photo: Clark Hoskin

In 1848, Seneca Falls hosted the first women’s rights convention in the U.S., a historical event. Today, this history is celebrated at the Women’s Rights National Historic Park. Our bus arrived here, and Kimberly Szewczyk of the Park and Jeff Shipley and Mackenzie Green of the Seneca County Chamber of Commerce greeted us.

After a tour around the building, we headed to the Seneca Museum of Waterways and Industry. The curator, Chris Podzuweit, explained that the town no longer has falls, because they were flooded to make way for an expansion of the Erie Canal in 1918. A boater on Long Point Bay in Lake Erie can sail to Seneca Falls, via the canal, and then onto the Atlantic Ocean.

Seneca Falls has developed its waterfront through landscaping and improving canal tie-up facilities, offering a “free wall” – free water, electrical service and showers to boaters. Extended stays in Seneca Falls are encouraged with the installation of a boardwalk and lighting. Almost 200 years old, the Erie Canal remains important to the town’s economy.

Don Earle, Town Supervisor for Seneca Falls, also greeted us. He explained the Town’s recent amalgamation with the village resulted in savings for taxpayers.

It's A Wonderful Life Festival

It’s A Wonderful Life Festival, 2009 – Lineup for autograph of actress who played Zsuzsu in the movie / Photo: Clark Hoskin

Seneca Falls holds the annual It’s A Wonderful Life Festival in December, celebrating the town’s curious connections to the classic holiday film. While planning the film in 1944, director Frank Capra got a haircut here on his way to visit his aunt. The town of “Bedford Falls” in the film is said to have been inspired by Capra’s stop here. The winter festival now includes the It’s A Wonderful Run 5K, a successful fundraiser. Last year, over 3,100 people completed the race. Some in our group visited the WomanMade Products store in downtown Seneca Falls, a retail shop with a T-shirt factory in the back. The store features lots of clothing celebrating the Finger Lakes, women’s rights, and It’s A Wonderful Life.

Every August, Seneca Falls hosts Empire Farm Days, an annual agricultural exhibition that began as a potato farmers’ event in 1931. Hosted on a 300-acre farm south of town, the event is the largest outdoor agricultural trade show in the Northeastern U.S.

These were just a few of the stops along the way on the Norfolk County Finger Lakes Study Tour. Watch this blog for more chapters in the story. See photos of the trip on the Invest in Norfolk facebook page.

(c) Clark Hoskin 2015

Finger Lakes Study Tour blog posts

  • Part 1: Wine & Culinary Centre | Technology Farm
  • Part 2: Winewagen Tours
  • Part 3: Weaverview Farms | Milly’s Pantry
  • Part 4: Yates County Arts Centre | Finger Lakes Ec Dev
  • Part 5: Climbing Bines Hop Yard & Brewery
  • Part 6: Wiemer Vineyards | Glenora Cellars
  • Part 7: Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel | Ice Bar
  • Part 8: Finger Lakes Distilling
  • Part 9: Cornell Lab of Ornithology | Ithaca Commons
  • Part 10: Americana Vineyards
  • Part 11: Seneca County Army Depot
  • Part 12: Seneca Falls
  • Part 13: Warfields Restaurant
  • Part 14: Debriefing at The Combine

Rural Canadians learn from U.S. region: Part 11

After lunch on Day 2, we crossed the ridge of land between Cayuga Lake and Seneca Lake, passed the towns of Ovid and Romulus, and drove up to the guardhouse in a remote corner of the Seneca County Army Depot, formerly operated by the U.S. military.

The tour of the Finger Lakes by rural small business owners from Norfolk County, Canada, was organized by Norfolk County Tourism & Economic Development and sponsored by Ontario’s Southwest Tourism.

Army Depot Plan

Seneca County Army Depot plan / Source: Seneca County IDA

“Welcome to the Cold War,” said Bob Aronson, stepping onto our bus. From the 1940s through the 1990s, this site was one of the largest stockpiles of nuclear weapons on American soil. Bob heads the Seneca County Industrial Development Agency (IDA). The primary role of his team is to find new tenants and uses for the property, which is about the size of Manhattan Island. This task includes repurposing 519 “igloos” that were used to store munitions. One company uses an old army barracks to manufacture materials used in the oil and gas industry.

Nature has reclaimed a lot of the 10,000-acre property, home to a population of unique white deer. Their colour is a result of inbreeding caused by being fenced in for many years.

“The planning that goes into economic development was eye opening to me. So many different aspects, so many people affected, weighing the pros and cons and coming up with a solution to keep everyone relatively happy must be a huge challenge.” – comment from participant

Seneca County Army Depot

Entrance to the Seneca County Army Depot / Photo: Clark Hoskin

Bob had good news to share. In December, the State of New York announced that Seneca County has been awarded one of four “non-Indian” casino licenses. The Lago Resort & Casino will be built in the community of Tyre. The $425-million resort will have 2,000 slot machines, 207 hotel rooms, a 10,000-square-foot spa and a 40,000-square-foot pool area. More than 1,250 jobs could be created. Site plan approval has been granted and environmental approvals are in place. Seneca County IDA granted incentives to the developer of the casino, including property tax abatement and local sales tax exemptions. We thanked Bob for his insights, and dropped him off at the guardhouse.

This was just one of the stops along the way on the Norfolk County Finger Lakes Study Tour. Watch this blog for more chapters in the story. See photos of the trip on the Invest in Norfolk facebook page.

(c) Clark Hoskin 2015

Finger Lakes Study Tour blog posts

  • Part 1: Wine & Culinary Centre | Technology Farm
  • Part 2: Winewagen Tours
  • Part 3: Weaverview Farms | Milly’s Pantry
  • Part 4: Yates County Arts Centre | Finger Lakes Ec Dev
  • Part 5: Climbing Bines Hop Yard & Brewery
  • Part 6: Wiemer Vineyards | Glenora Cellars
  • Part 7: Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel | Ice Bar
  • Part 8: Finger Lakes Distilling
  • Part 9: Cornell Lab of Ornithology | Ithaca Commons
  • Part 10: Americana Vineyards
  • Part 11: Seneca County Army Depot
  • Part 12: Seneca Falls
  • Part 13: Warfields Restaurant
  • Part 14: Debriefing at The Combine

Rural Canadians learn from U.S. region: Part 10

Americana Vineyards

Lunch at Americana Vineyards / Photo: Clark Hoskin

Americana Vineyards near Interlaken was our lunch stop on Day 2. The winery is located in a circa 1820s barn saved from demolition then rebuilt with care.

The tour of the Finger Lakes by rural small business owners from Norfolk County, Canada, was organized by Norfolk County Tourism & Economic Development and sponsored by Ontario’s Southwest Tourism.

The winery is the second oldest in the area, a founding member of the Cayuga Wine Trail, featuring wines using Catawba and Niagara grapes. Ryan Scammon and his team were ready for us with soup and chowder, platters of deli meats and cheeses, bread and rolls and salads.

“I found the staff at all these businesses to be engaging and outgoing.” – comment from one of our participants

The group was offered tastings of Americana wines. Also, a new craft brewery has started up nearby. Bacchus Brewing Company currently has six beers available. They include Blonde Ale, Red Rye, IPA, Flora’s Fate Pale Ale, Bearded Brown, and Cyclhops IPA. Americana Vineyards is renovating a room below the dining area of the complex, for Bacchus to use as a tasting room.

“Loved the rural hip atmosphere of some of the tasting bars.” – comment from one of our participants

These were just a few of the stops along the way on the Norfolk County Finger Lakes Study Tour. Watch this blog for more chapters in the story. See photos of the trip on the Invest in Norfolk facebook page.

c) Clark Hoskin 2015

Finger Lakes Study Tour blog posts

  • Part 1: Wine & Culinary Centre | Technology Farm
  • Part 2: Winewagen Tours
  • Part 3: Weaverview Farms | Milly’s Pantry
  • Part 4: Yates County Arts Centre | Finger Lakes Ec Dev
  • Part 5: Climbing Bines Hop Yard & Brewery
  • Part 6: Wiemer Vineyards | Glenora Cellars
  • Part 7: Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel | Ice Bar
  • Part 8: Finger Lakes Distilling
  • Part 9: Cornell Lab of Ornithology | Ithaca Commons
  • Part 10: Americana Vineyards
  • Part 11: Seneca County Army Depot
  • Part 12: Seneca Falls
  • Part 13: Warfields Restaurant
  • Part 14: Debriefing at The Combine

Rural Canadians learn from U.S. region: Part 9

telescope at Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Through the telescope at Cornell Lab of Ornithology / Photo: Clark Hoskin

Continuing our trip on Day 2, our bus rolled through Ithaca, to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, a world leader in the study and conservation of birds.

The tour of the Finger Lakes by rural small business owners from Norfolk County, Canada, was organized by Norfolk County Tourism & Economic Development and sponsored by Ontario’s Southwest Tourism.

The Lab is a non-profit organization supported by 78,000 members, 200,000 “citizen-science” participants, and 12 million bird enthusiasts who connect with the Lab’s online guide, allaboutbirds.org. This is the location where advances like eBird (which receives 1.6 million bird observations per month), Project FeederWatch, the Backyard Bird Count and Rare Bird Alerts were created.

Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Inside the Cornell Lab of Ornithology / Photo: Clark Hoskin

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has managed to support and grow its research initiatives while welcoming tourists to its facility. There are interactive exhibits, views of birds from the observatory, binoculars for loan at reception, 14,000 books in the library open to the public, as well as seminars in spring and fall. About 55,000 people visit the centre each year, without disturbing the 150+ staff on site. The stop provided food for thought about how to address the needs of birding tourists. Norfolk County and Ontario’s Southwest welcome many birders annually.

“Cornell Lab of Ornithology directly targets all bird lovers and is broader in its approach to the community. There are many concepts and takeaways for our own Bird Studies to try and adapt to our own facility.” – comment from one of our participants

After leaving this stop, our group drove by Ithaca Commons, a four-block outdoor pedestrian mall in downtown Ithaca, which was built in 1974. A $3-million (U.S.) upgrade is underway, including a new 159-room Marriott Hotel. The area is expected to reopen this summer. It includes 100 shops, restaurants, galleries, street vendors and street entertainers. It is close to Cornell University and Ithaca College, is home to State Theatre of Ithaca, Restaurant Week Ithaca, free summer concerts, Downtown Ithaca Apple Harvest Festival, Annual Chili Festival, Winterfest, and other events.

These were just a few of the stops along the way on the Norfolk County Finger Lakes Study Tour. Watch this blog for more chapters in the story. See photos of the trip on the Invest in Norfolk facebook page.

c) Clark Hoskin 2015

Finger Lakes Study Tour blog posts

  • Part 1: Wine & Culinary Centre | Technology Farm
  • Part 2: Winewagen Tours
  • Part 3: Weaverview Farms | Milly’s Pantry
  • Part 4: Yates County Arts Centre | Finger Lakes Ec Dev
  • Part 5: Climbing Bines Hop Yard & Brewery
  • Part 6: Wiemer Vineyards | Glenora Cellars
  • Part 7: Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel | Ice Bar
  • Part 8: Finger Lakes Distilling
  • Part 9: Cornell Lab of Ornithology | Ithaca Commons
  • Part 10: Americana Vineyards
  • Part 11: Seneca County Army Depot
  • Part 12: Seneca Falls
  • Part 13: Warfields Restaurant
  • Part 14: Debriefing at The Combine

Rural Canadians learn from U.S. region: Part 8

During breakfast on the second day of our tour, Phyllisa DaSarno, Director for Economic Development, City of Ithaca (population 30,000), greeted our group. We had hoped to meet Ithaca’s young Mayor, Svante Myrick, but his schedule was already committed. At 27 years old, the Mayor of this city is among the youngest African American mayors in the U.S.

The tour of the Finger Lakes by rural small business owners from Norfolk County, Canada, was organized by Norfolk County Tourism & Economic Development and sponsored by Ontario’s Southwest Tourism.

Finger Lakes Distilling

Brian McKenzie of Finger Lakes Distilling speaks to our group / Photo: Clark Hoskin

The first stop on our second day was Finger Lakes Distilling, makers of local whiskey, gin, vodka, brandy, grappa and liqueurs. About 80% of the distillery’s production is whiskey, using local corn, rye and wheat. Their award-winning gin uses 75% local grapes as the base spirit. We met Brian McKenzie, President, and his staff provided tastings of the spirits to those in the group who were interested.

Brian and Thomas McKenzie (no relation), his distilling consultant, toured our group through the facility and explained the process of creating their award-winning spirits.

Stills at Finger Lakes Distilling

Finger Lakes Distilling has advanced technologies to produce its award-winning spirits / Photo: Clark Hoskin

Finger Lakes Distillings’ rye whiskeys and gins have earned critical acclaim in specialized publications focused on spirits and alcohol.

Finger Lakes Distilling was voted favourite stop of Day 2.

This was just one of the stops along the way on the Norfolk County Finger Lakes Study Tour. Watch this blog for more chapters in the story. See photos of the trip on the Invest in Norfolk facebook page.

(c) Clark Hoskin 2015

Finger Lakes Study Tour blog posts

  • Part 1: Wine & Culinary Centre | Technology Farm
  • Part 2: Winewagen Tours
  • Part 3: Weaverview Farms | Milly’s Pantry
  • Part 4: Yates County Arts Centre | Finger Lakes Ec Dev
  • Part 5: Climbing Bines Hop Yard & Brewery
  • Part 6: Wiemer Vineyards | Glenora Cellars
  • Part 7: Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel | Ice Bar
  • Part 8: Finger Lakes Distilling
  • Part 9: Cornell Lab of Ornithology | Ithaca Commons
  • Part 10: Americana Vineyards
  • Part 11: Seneca County Army Depot
  • Part 12: Seneca Falls
  • Part 13: Warfields Restaurant
  • Part 14: Debriefing at The Combine