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Guest Column: State Sen. Tom O'Mara
"Thankful for local tourism"
ALBANY, July 21 -- Last week I focused on the importance of combating the spread of invasive species as a way to prevent a decline in the local tourism economy. This week, I’ll stress that it’s just as important to keep counting all of the reasons why this economic sector remains so strong.
The economic value of tourism across the counties comprising the Finger Lakes and Southern Tier regions has been estimated at nearly $3 billion in revenue and nearly 60,000 jobs. In other words, from the Corning Glass Museum to Watkins Glen International, and from cheese making to a world-class wine industry, tourism is big business. While it largely goes without saying that we’re fortunate to enjoy the stability tourism provides as a cultural and economic anchor, we can’t ever stop being grateful for it, investing in it or, maybe most importantly, promoting it.
Thankfully, the opportunities are abundant. I hesitate to bring it up, but we’re fast approaching the midpoint of the summer season – which makes it timely to refocus our attention on tourism’s importance.
We recently enjoyed one of New York’s premier wine industry events, the Finger Lakes Wine Festival. It’s truly a showcase event and a strong reminder that Finger Lakes vineyards and wineries still serve as the hub of an industry that has risen to national and international renown over the past two decades. Earlier this year, the state Wine and Grape Foundation highlighted the economic impact of grapes, grape juice and wine in New York State at $4.8 billion.
Most of us are well aware of wine country and the wine trails of the Finger Lakes, but now we also can boast of the ever-growing Finger Lakes Beer Trail (www.fingerlakesbeertrail.com), which helps to show off our vibrant craft beer industry. It’s yet another industry that’s received important attention from New York government in recent years. And don’t forget that the inaugural Finger Lakes Beer Festival is slated for late October at Watkins Glen International.
Local cheeses remain on the table too, so many of which will be on display this weekend, on Saturday, July 26th, at the 3rd Annual Finger Lakes Cheese Festival at Sunset View Creamery, a Farmstead & Artisan Cheese Production Facility that’s operated on the Hoffmans' century farm at Catharine Corners, outside Odessa. Cheese making has long played an important role in so many upstate New York communities, including Schuyler County. For more information on local cheese makers, including this weekend’s Festival and other upcoming events, visit the Finger Lake Cheese Trail online at http://flcheesetrail.com/.
Earlier this year, I was proud to congratulate, for the second consecutive year, the owners of Finger Lakes Distilling, a farm distillery located in Burdett in Schuyler County, on representing our region in the prestigious Manhattan Cocktail Classic. (They were joined this year by Myer Farm Distillers from Ovid, Seneca County.) We’re proud that Finger Lakes Distilling and Myer Farm Distillers carried the banner for our region at such a top-flight gathering of cocktail enthusiasts. It helped reinforce the reputation of the Finger Lakes as a cornerstone of New York’s agriculture, tourism and hospitality industries. Remember that more than a half dozen distilling operations dot the Finger Lakes region today (read more at http://www.fingerlakes.com/distilleries). It’s an agricultural sector that’s growing along with the steady development of a local hard cider industry.
So many of our locally grown and made products can always be found at one of the region’s many farmers’ markets. For more details on the region’s numerous summer markets, visit the state Department of Agriculture and Markets website at www.agriculture.ny.gov.
Of course we've long been defined by unparalleled natural and scenic beauty, including an amazing network of parks and trails (www.fingerlakes.org). And there’s so much more: county fairs, festivals of all kinds, great fishing, swimming, sailing, local history museums, spectacular waterfalls and, yes, racing with New York State’s largest-attended sporting event arriving at Watkins Glen International on August 7-10 with NASCAR’s “Cheez-It 355 at The Glen” (find out more at www.theglen.com).
In other words, we offer an abundance of tourism opportunities, during every season of the year, and you can read all about them through the state’s official tourism website, www.iloveny.com.
Photo in text: State Senator Tom O'Mara
Schuyler County Officials
Top row (from left): Dennis Fagan, Jim Howell, Michael Lausell, Van Harp
Bottom row: Tom Gifford, Barbara Halpin, Phil Barnes, Stewart Field.
Dennis Fagan, Tyrone 607-292-3687
Thomas M. Gifford, 535-9517
Barbara Halpin, 594-3683
Phil Barnes, Watkins Glen, 481-0482
Stewart Field, Watkins Glen, 535-2335
County Clerk: Linda Compton, 535-8133
Sheriff: William Yessman, 535-8222
Undersheriff: Breck Spaulding, 535-8222
County Treasurer: Gary Whyman, 535-8181
District Attorney: Joseph Fazzary, 535-8383
State, Federal Officials for Schuyler County
Sen. Charles E. Schumer
United States Senate
Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand
United States Senate
State Senator Tom O'Mara -- Chemung, Schuyler, Steuben, Yates, western Tompkins, Enfield, Ithaca (Town and City), Newfield, Ulysses(Trumansburg)
Room 812, Legislative Office Building
Assemblyman Phil Palmesano--
Steuben, Schuyler, Yates
P.O. Box 365
Odessa, New York 14869