Livingston Chamber Tour Group Visits Agri-tourism Businesses
Geneseo - Agriculture can be fun! Last week 35 people boarded a luxury motor coach compliments of Anytime Coach Lines and joined the Livingston County Chamber of Commerce & Tourism for its annual familiarization tour or “fam tour”. This year the theme centered on the two largest industries in the county, agriculture and tourism. The word agri-tourism has been coined by the USDA to mean "a commercial enterprise at a working farm geared to educate and entertain visitors.” Tour participants visited several agriculture and farm businesses that have expanded their presence to draw visitors and tourists to Livingston County.
The day began with a stop at the Hemlock Hills Alpaca Farm in Livonia, where owners Bob and Mary Ann Thompson let visitors wander among and pet the alpacas who are equal parts pet and premium fleece producers, while Bob discussed the specific qualities of alpaca fiber and the personalities of individual alpaca. The Thompsons combine being a working farm and offering tours of their unique operation to families and groups for a small fee.
The next stop was O-Neh-Da & Eagle Crest Vineyards in Hemlock. Owner Will Ouweleen gave an engaging talk about the history of winemaking in the Finger Lakes while his wife Lisa offered tastings of some of the most popular vintages. Established in 1872 as O-Neh-Da Vineyard, Eagle Crest produces small-batch table wines, made from 100% Finger Lakes-grown grapes, while maintaining operation of the oldest sacramental winery in the New World.
Surrounded by Nature Conservancy land, and home to New York State's oldest bald eagle nesting site, Eagle Crest Vineyards makes a conscious effort each year to improve its stewardship with sustainable farming methods coupled with corporately responsible business practices. Recently the vineyard installed solar panels which provide 100% of the power needed to run their operation.
The next stop on the tour was the facilities and grounds at the Hemlock “Little World’s Fair”. The fairground is working to become one of the area’s newest wedding and events venues. Another innovative way they are utilizing their spacious grounds and established buildings is by renting their seasonally empty barns to Conesus and Hemlock Lake boat owners who wish to store their boats in protected buildings in the off season. The tour group enjoyed a catered lunch by Partyman Catering and Rental in the new Home Arts building.
The day continued at the Dinky Doo Petting Zoo and Free Spirit Leather Shop in Wayland. Each visitor was given a bag of feed and encouraged to interact with, and feed the animals, as they wandered through the zoo. They house a variety of animals from snuggly bunnies and guinea pigs to larger pigs and horses. They also offer pony rides for children. Owner Cherie Carter says maintaining a petting zoo is truly a labor of love since the animals need to be cared for and watched over 24 hours a day. Carter lives on site and welcomes visitors from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays throughout the fall.
At Letchworth Farm B & B in Nunda, the group was introduced to Richard and Daisy Trayford. Natives of England, they moved to this area three years ago to raise and train world-class eventing horses. The Trayfords bought an 1890’s era house on an 88 acre horse farm within easy walking distance of Letchworth State Park. In 2018 they renovated their home to offer an elegant bed and breakfast experience in an authentic agricultural setting to visitors interested in farm/equestrian life and spectacular views of the regions rolling ag lands.
The day concluded at the Kish-A-Wa Creamery in Nunda. Pam Washington started the ice cream stand as a retirement project after years of working in the dairy and food safety industries. Washington is a proud graduate of the Penn State Ice Cream Short Course, which is the same course that produced renowned ice cream makers Ben and Jerry. Washington gave each tour group member three samples of vanilla ice cream from different manufacturers. She taught them how to differentiate between poor and good quality ice cream by taste, color, texture, and mouth feel.
Throughout the day, Tourism Director, Elissa Russell, held random drawings for various ag products available in Livingston County, including Once Again Nut Butter, Deer Run Winery Jam, Monks’ Bread, a fall mum and more. Tour participants included business operators, hotel front-line staff, various Chamber members, and other tourism staff from throughout the region. The Chamber & Tourism’s annual “fam” tours are held each fall and open to the public.
Media Contact: Ellen Herlihy, Tourism Marketing Coordinator
585-243-2222 ext. 5 or Ellen@LivingstonCountyChamber.com