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

Rural Canadians learn from U.S. region: Part 7

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

Seneca Lake

View of Seneca Lake from Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel / Photo: Clark Hoskin

After dinner on the first day, the group checked in at the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel on Seneca Lake. Many of the group relaxed in the downstairs bar and traded thoughts and enthusiasm about the day. Christine Peacock of Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel was our group’s contact. She provided excellent service in the planning leading up to our trip, and during our stay. A few individuals visited the Crooked Rooster Brewpub in downtown Watkins Glen and spoke with the brew master there.

“Top-notch overnight accommodation” – comment from our group

The morning light exposed the remnants of various ice sculptures in the courtyard of the hotel overlooking the lake. We later learned that the hotel is the host of the annual Ice Bar fundraising event for the Finger Lakes Chapter of the American Red Cross. Here is article explaining the event and the hotel’s involvement:

Watkins Glen Ice Bar raises $20,000 for Red Cross

Poster

Post for the Ice Bar fundraiser

WATKINS GLEN (Star-Gazette) – The average temperature each night was in the high teens, but almost 2,500 people ignored the cold to attend a hot event: the fourth annual Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel Ice Bar in late January. The three-day outdoor and indoor party on the shore of Seneca Lake raised $20,000 for the Finger Lakes Chapter of the American Red Cross.

Last year’s event raised $15,000. The 2015 donation brings the Ice Bar total over four years to $50,000 for Red Cross projects in Schuyler County.

“It has become known as a fun party that benefits something very important,” Christine Peacock, hotel director of sales, said. Peacock said Ice Bar ticket-holders came from as far away as Denver and included a big contingent from Pennsylvania. Friday and Saturday nights both reached the 1,000-ticket maximum. Saturday night tickets sold out in two weeks, Peacock noted.

The donation will be used solely for programs and projects in Schuyler County. In the last year, the Red Cross has responded to a tornado, flash floods and multiple house fires in the county, he said.

The Ice Bar is organized by hotel staff, who, this year, secured 20 community sponsors.

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.

  • Read Part 1: New York State Wine & Culinary Centre, Cornell Agriculture & Food Technology Farm
  • Read Part 2: Winewagen Tours
  • Read Part 3: Weaverview Farms, Milly’s Pantry
  • Read Part 4: Yates County Arts Centre, Finger Lakes Economic Development Co.
  • Read Part 5: Climbing Bines Hop Yard & Brewery
  • Read Part 6: Wiemer and Glenora

(c) 2015 Clark Hoskin

Tweet Folk promotes local

Tweet Folk promotes local

All the talk of Norfolk County this spring has been the phenomenon called “Tweet Folk Tours”, a gathering of local residents, business people and others who meet face to face in one place for the evening and engage in a group Twitter chat.

Tweet Folk Tours event

At a recent Tweet Norfolk Tours event, a local restaurant put on a spectacular meal which was tweeted about by those in attendances. Photo: Ted Willey / Norfolk County Tourism

In January 2014, the Year of Social Media in Norfolk County was proclaimed at the municipality’s annual Economic Development Symposium. Social media guru Scott Stratten spoke to 175 local residents and business owners, extolling the opportunities and pitfalls of new technology.

The first Tweet Folk Tour (#twtfolks for short on Twitter) occurred on March 27, 2014 at the Blue Elephant Craft Brew House, involving a tour of the restaurant, networking, fellowship and learning.

The phenomenon gained momentum at Eat & Drink Norfolk, an annual local food and wine tasting event organized by the Norfolk County Fair & Horse Show in mid-April of each year. That was followed by a stop in late April at Kaley’s Kakes in downtown Simcoe, a beloved diner with great pastries. The group moved on to the Long Point Bird Observatory in early May, when images of colourful birds flashed across the twitter ‘verse.

Tweet Folks at Long Point Bird Observatory Norfolk County

Tweet Folks at Long Point Bird Observatory in Norfolk County. Photo: LPBO

The purpose of proclaiming 2014 as Norfolk County’s Year of Social Media is to encourage Norfolk County businesses, organizations and residents to participate actively in social media and other technologies in order to expand the capacity of citizens to become technologically proficient in an ever-changing world, to increase opportunities within our community, to encourage unity across Norfolk County and to grow community pride.

So far, Tweet Folk Tours is the shining example of  how the Norfolk County community has embraced new technology and built new relationships in the process.

The Tweet Folk Tours initiative is the brainchild of Gregg McLachlan, Mike McArthur and Amy Van Kessel, three local residents who are champions of social media.

The Tweet Folk Tours events welcome newcomers to social media so they can mingle with more experienced Twitter users and learn by watching, laughing and doing.

If you live in Norfolk County and you’re interested in getting involved, follow @TweetFolkTours on Twitter.

Here are some recent examples of conversations between attendees at a Tweet Folk Tours event in Port Rowan:

Tweet Folks at Blue Elephant

The first Tweet Folk Tours event at The Blue Elephant Restaurant and Craft Brew House in Norfolk County. Photo: Adam Leifl / MyFM

@DennisTravale: Group forming to enjoy the food, flavours & ambience of @NossaCasaBistro in downtown Port Rowan.#twtfolks #Ilovenorfolk

@suereformer: Learning something new @TweetFolkTours thanks@ted_willey #twtfolks

@KCCOCath: So neat to have so many “new” people in town and learning about our gem @NossaCasaBistro #PortRowan #twtfolks

@gailbouw: I have arrived and have been greeted by #twtfolks at@NossaCasaBistro they are giving us a #feas@DooneyRanch: This looks amazing! Ready to dig in with my#twtfolk family!

@KaleahMK: And to think, I used to get yelled at for texting at the table! #twtfolks #tweetandeat