Mercer’s Dairy, the upstate New York ice cream manufacturer made famous by its wine ice cream, has been named to the Oneida County Tourism A-to-Z Food Tour list.
The ice cream company, located at 13584 State Route 12, Boonville, was chosen by votes from the community for its sweet, creamy, and locally-made ice cream.
The A-to-Z Food Tour showcases local eateries on social media. All winners were determined by public vote.
This idea came from a virtual conference that Sarah Foster, Oneida County Tourism Director of Communications and TV/Film, attended. During the conference, Foster learned about a similar campaign coordinated for restaurants by a tourism agency in Greenville, South Carolina. Given that the restaurant industry was hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, Foster thought, this would be an ideal way to encourage the general public to explore Oneida County restaurants and spotlight the unique local food scene.
Oneida County Tourism took a different approach than Greenville in deciding what local dishes should make the list. They asked the public to vote and ran an open survey on their website where people could enter as many dishes they wanted and what restaurants they were from. This was also a way to be sure the selection was fair. As an incentive, Oneida County Tourism ran a contest where those who submitted an entry were automatically entered to win one of two $50 gift cards to the local restaurant of their choice. The contest received more than 200 submissions.
“The community seemed so excited to participate in this,” Foster said. “I feel that most people in the area feel a huge sense of pride when it comes to our local food. This campaign totally plays into that. People want to share with others what their favorite dishes are and who their favorites restaurants are.”
The winning dishes and eateries are featured in Instagram and Facebook posts. One to two letters are revealed each week the entire list is expected to be live by the end of May. At the end of the rollout, the A-to-Z Food Tour guide will live on the Oneida County website, www.oneidacountytourism.com as a blog post. The Oneida County Tourism team will also use the content to create an Instagram guide. You can see which other eateries have been chosen by searching the Instagram guide at https://www.instagram.com/ocnewyork/.
“The restaurants have all been so ecstatic when I tell them they’ve been chosen,” Foster said. “This campaign is showing how loyal the restaurants’ customers really are. It has honestly been heartwarming and a bit emotional with some restaurants.”
Foster said one of the best things about the A-to-Z Food Tour is that it is encouraging locals to give new eateries a try.
“We just love hearing first-hand that our list is inspiring people to try something new, Foster said. “One of my friends sent me a screenshot of a conversation from her friend. He had texted her a picture of one of our posts (O’Baby’s) and asked her if they could go grab lunch there soon. I’ve seen other people post on Facebook too that they’re trying new places because of the A-to-Z Food Tour. It makes me really happy when people in the community come together to support our incredible and diverse restaurants.”