National Travel & Tourism Week: A Wrap-Up!
Back in May, we celebrated something very close to our hearts. From May 5-11, it was National Travel and Tourism Week (NTTW). For 2019, we decided that we really wanted to take advantage of NTTW. The plan was to showcase unique attractions that are lesser known in Oneida County. We also thought it’d be cool to get our social followers more engaged so we came up with a plan. The week before NTTW, we ran Instagram polls asking our followers where they wanted us to visit. Instead of including the names of attractions, we vaguely used emojis. It was really fun to run the polls daily and see what our followers were interested in! After a week, the results came in. We planned to visit one attraction each day during the week and run Facebook live interviews.
Boonville/Northern Oneida County
We wanted to make sure that when we visited these locations, we were showcasing all of #ocnewyork… and we have a big county! Kicking off on Monday, May 6, we went to our first stop, Boonville, to visit Mercer’s Dairy/Mercer’s Wine Ice Cream. Boonville is in the most northern part of Oneida County and the lowest part of the Adirondacks. Mercer’s is open all year and has some really delicious ice creams and unique cones. But the coolest thing about them is that they have a line of wine ice cream (10 flavors)! This line of ice cream is literally infused with wine… you have to be 21+ to buy it! Another unique thing about Mercer’s is that in 2013, they became a 100% female-owned business. To learn more about their history and products, visit here. Their products can be found in several locations locally and nationwide. In our area, certain Hannaford stores sell their ice creams as well as other businesses like Brimfield Farm Winery. To see a map (which is frequently updated!), go here. But what if you can’t find a distributor or retail location near you? No worries – Mercer’s will ship to you!
The runner-up location in Boonville was the BREIA Trails. According to their website, BREIA is a not-for-profit corporation funded by a private family foundation as a gift to the people of NY. Access to the trails and facilities are free and they remain open throughout the year. Visitors can experience hiking and biking in the warmer seasons. BREIA now offers more than 50 kilometers of trails, making it one of the largest classic ski, snowshoe and mountain biking systems in the east. It’s comprised of three locations in diverse landscapes, each offering distinctive skiing experiences. There are maps for each system available at the trailheads. Visitors can take advantage of the Canal, the Egypt Road and the Jackson Hill trails. On the Canal Trail, you can visit the warming hut which offers ski equipment rentals for a small fee. For more information on the trails, maps, etc., visit here!
Sylvan Beach/Verona/Western Oneida County
On Tuesday, we headed to Sylvan Beach to pay a visit to our friend James, aka Casper Cop. Casper Cop, named after Casper the Friendly Ghost, runs Park After Dark ghost tours at Sylvan Beach Amusement park. James is a professional investigator and more than 15 years ago, he began the interesting hobby of paranormal investigations. Now, he seeks out possible haunted locations and invites the public to do their own investigation. The tour begins with a brief walkthrough of the amusement park and then your group will discuss the legends of who still roams the park. After the park closes and buildings are locked, the fun begins! You’ll be guided on a paranormal investigation through the most active buildings in the park. Participation and photographs are encouraged… you never know what (or who) you’ll catch! It’s frequent that shadow figures and poltergeist activity are detected. Tours kick off around 9pm and continue every Friday and Saturday throughout the summer. Tickets are $20 and typically 12-15 are available per night. However, James is more than willing to work with groups for parties or private investigations. Don’t forget to ask about the panic room!
The runner up location for this region was the Oneida Community Mansion House (OCMH). The OCMH, a National Historic Landmark, is in Oneida and technically in Madison County but we work with them frequently. The Oneida Community was a religiously centered utopian commune in the 1800s whose members shared all aspects of their lives and work. The community disbanded in 1880 and formed a joint-stock corporation, Oneida Community Ltd. In the early 20th century, the company changed their named to Oneida Ltd. and achieved world-wide recognition for the tableware produced in Sherrill, NY. Today, OCMH offers programs, tours and exhibits and provides overnight lodging. The most recent piece of exciting news is that they’ve officially partnered with Liberty Tabletop/Sherrill Manufacturing, who acquired all the flatware manufacturing assets from Oneida Ltd. and is the last remaining flatware manufacturer in the United States. This partnership has launched tours of both properties on the 3rd Friday of each month this summer. Large groups can be scheduled by appointment. It’s a great way to learn about the history of both and see how they’re connected!
On Wednesday, we went to Brimfield Farm Winery, a new winery in Clinton. This winery opened in the fall of 2018 and reopened this spring. It’s located on the backroads of Clinton with stunning views of the Mohawk Valley. There’s also an amazing driving range on site! Brimfield Farm Winery has partnered with a winery in the Fingerlakes region to use their grapes and juice. Something that makes this winery so unique is that it’s located in a beautiful century-old barn that has been in the family for quite some time! Visitors can enjoy wine tastings, glasses of wine and snacks from local companies (like delicious cheese plates). They also stock Mercer’s wine ice cream! The winery, open seven days a week, hosts live music and unique events like Sip & Drum and Couples Wine & Golf (Thurs. 6/27). They’re also available to host smaller private parties. Check their Facebook page to get updates on other events and info.
The runner up for the Clinton/Southern Hills region was the Village of Clinton. While this may seem vague, we wanted to showcase what’s happening in the village. Clinton is small but if you visit the green, there’s so much happening in that area. If shopping is your thing, check out places like Krizia Martin and Signature 81. If you’re more into food, we recommend any of the restaurants such as Alteri’s and Nola’s. On Thursdays throughout the summer, plan a visit to their Farmer’s Market (10am-4pm). Recently, there have been new places opening such as Soul Bowl & The Cremeria. It’s a small and quaint town that has a unique vibe that’s perfect for families, couples and just about anyone! Also keep your eyes peeled for some large signature events like Clinton Art + Music Festival and the Shoppers’ Stroll & Holiday Parade!
On Thursday, we shifted our focus to Utica. This was a unique day in that the Instagram votes were split 50/50. First we visited Uptown Theatre for Creative Arts (UTCA). Back in the day, the Uptown hosted a variety of shows and events. However, in 2013, the Uptown closed its doors. In 2017, Utica-native Devin Mahoney and his wife, Briana, moved back to Utica from LA and formed UTCA. Devin and Briana are now working to revitalize Utica’s Uptown neighborhood and surrounding communities through diverse programming. The Uptown has begun the restoration process and has been hosting Improv classes open to anyone. Throughout the summer, there are classes for kids, teens, adults and Veterans. As a more long-term goal, Devin and Briana plan to offer world-class programs featuring today’s most influential and provocative writers, artists, craftspeople, musicians and comedians. If you’re looking to help or get involved in any way, donate, volunteer or just support one of their programs! The greatest part about UTCA is that their classes are open to anyone… so it doesn’t matter what kind of experience you do or don’t have! Visit their Facebook page to find out more about events!
The second location we wanted to showcase in Utica is the Street Corner Urban Market. This market opened in downtown Utica on Genesee St. in the recently developed Westwood building. They are a grocery store and urban market specializing in fresh meats, fresh prepared food and fresh produce. Street Corner has weekly specials, famous local foods and even a beer cooler! What we love about Street Corner is that they are continuing this movement of investing and revitalizing in downtown Utica. The reason we love The Westwood as a whole is because if offers a combination of eating, shopping and living. There are gorgeous new apartments for rent, a Jimmy John’s on site and now the Street Corner. This encourages locals and residents to shop where they live and explore Utica more by foot. It’s also in a prime location because now guests at DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Utica and Delta Hotels by Marriott Utica can stop by if they want a quick snack or some groceries. We’re excited to see what else is in store for this area and look forward to shopping and eating at the Street Corner Market!
On Friday, we wrapped up our celebrations with a visit to Rome. We visited Bellamy Harbor Park and Navigation Center (watch our interview with Mayor Jackie Izzo), both located along the Erie Canal. This is a regional/community park owned by the New York State Canal Corporation. The park is designed not only for locals but also for travelers along the canal. Like many other areas in Oneida County, there’s a lot of development happening here; from new docks to more landscaping to general park upgrades. On weekends, visitors can stop by and take a kayak out for free! Approximately a year and a half ago, the city built a walkway that now connects the park to the new Navigation Center. This is also located on the canal and has restrooms and a picnic area for locals and travelers. A great event hosted in this area annually is Locktoberfest, held in October with a variety of food trucks, family-friendly activities, fireworks, yoga and more!
The runner up in Rome was the Capitol Theatre, located within the Capitol Arts Complex. The historic 1928 theater provides entertaining, cultural and educational opportunities to the community through the performing and visual arts. It remains the only building in Rome constructed for the specific purpose of exhibiting motion pictures. Throughout the year, they show a variety of films and host shows for adults and families. One of their signature events is Capitolfest, now in its 17th year! Most of the films are shown in 35mm prints though some are presented digitally. There are also silent films, a dealer’s room, memorabilia for sale and much more! Don’t forget to check out Cinema Capitol next door too! They offer the most independent, foreign, documentary and art house cinema in CNY. They’ve also been known to premier Game of Thrones episodes at the cinema for people who don’t have access to the show! We’re so excited to see what else Kylie and Art have in store.
Overall, we had a super successful, educational and busy National Travel and Tourism Week in 2019. We’re already looking forward to 2020 to see what else we can do to showcase our unique and awesome attractions and events. We hope this blog and our videos were able to teach everyone something new about Oneida County!
Lots of love from, Sarah Foster Director of Media Relations & Meetings/Conference Market and Marcie Dyar, Digital Asset & Crm Manager.