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3 a.m. Thoughts

Stephanie Specchio, the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce's Director of Marketing and Communications, offers her fifth in an ongoing series of columns. She will provide insights from the Chamber periodically.

Visitors Among Us

By Stephanie Specchio

SCHUYLER COUNTY, May 18, 2022 -- I am always thrilled when I see that our home has been featured as a “place to go” in some publication. In April, MSN posted a list of 30 “delightful towns.” Watkins Glen was ranked number 6. In January (although I just found it), Well + Good published a list of 16 weekend get-aways in Upstate New York, and, again, many nearby villages made the list.

Our region is a mecca for tourists. I’ve found myself assuming that I know why people choose us. Visitors come for our world class wines, brews, and spirits. Some come looking to unplug and enjoy our natural assets. Others come because racing is part of our DNA and they share that passion.

With more thought, I think those looking to experience our “everyday” choose us for deeper reasons. Yes, they come to unplug, but really ... they’re here to witness nature’s wonder, to see the two eagles that are nesting in the Catharine Marsh right now or to marvel at January’s ice sculptures -- every one distinct and powerful.

They come looking to understand our community, our points of view, and way of life, which can only be accomplished through authentic experiences, open minds, and honest, respectful conversations.

They come looking to learn. How is their favorite cheese produced? What does it take to make a signature wine? How do you cultivate mushrooms for medicinal purposes? Our neighbors know these secrets and enjoy sharing them with visitors.

We learned during the height of COVID that our visitors are looking to escape reality. As visitors, they are anonymous and free to live in the moment, be anyone, and do anything.

Travel has the power to help people appreciate and respect how others live. It teaches us to be tolerant, flexible, and open-minded -- values that some would say are desperately needed right now. So, as we locals prepare for the 2022 summer, please help the Chamber roll out the welcome mat. And a challenge ... when visitors ask you what you do for fun around here -- and they will -- be ready. Share your happy place, your go-to restaurant, and your most cherished way to spend Saturday morning.

Photo in text: Stephanie Specchio

For Stephanie Specchio's first column, click here.
For Stephanie Specchio's second column, click here.
For Stephanie Specchio's third column, click here.
For Stephanie Specchio's fourth column, click here.


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