All five out of a possible five stars to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and its expert staff for kick-starting Cooperstown’s first learning-how-to-deal-with-COVID summer with the return of its joyous “Hall of Fame Classic,” a holiday weekend gathering that brought some 4,000 fans to Doubleday Field last Saturday and brought the village to near-summer-strength life almost overnight. Visitors crowded Main Street until everyone seemingly decamped to Brewery Ommegang for the Avett Brothers and Lake Street Dive show on Saturday night and left Main Street oddly quiet – but that was temporary. Sunday was another busy day.
But what a great, unofficial kick-off to the summer season not just for Cooperstown, but for all of Otsego County. Visitors got to see us at our best – villages and the City of Oneonta marching and remembering the fallen with appropriately celebratory parades yet somber and reflective commemorations that followed. The return of the Clinton Canoe Regatta. Restaurants dazzling diners with outstanding offerings, servers, cooks, bartenders, and bussers working double-time to make up for staffing shortages. The Farmers’ Museum and Fenimore Art Museum opening for another season. Dreams Park reopening to welcome teams and families.
These attractions are Otsego County’s lifeblood. To all of you who work at our museums, restaurants, beaches, bars, family recreation centers, stores, gas stations, and everywhere else, you have our thanks and appreciation. We’re rooting for all of you to bring in lots of visitors, make lots of money, and get the great tips you deserve.
Summer 2020 was a bust, of course; 2021 a time to inch back to the ‘old’ normal. COVID’s omnipresence notwithstanding, we love to see attractions throughout the county preparing to welcome visitors and party like it’s 2019 all over again. To be sure, record-high gas prices and worrisome inflation will compete with COVID cabin fever as families decide how much to spend, but we hope we’ll all soon be fretting over crowded roads and long restaurant waiting lists.
We don’t take for granted the jewels that attract visitors from all over the world. In a post to his Twitter account after the holiday weekend’s “Classic,” Baseball Hall of Fame President Josh Rawitch called Cooperstown “Baseball’s spiritual home.” It’s a spirit that makes even the longest-tenured major leaguers – Hall of Famers among them – bound onto Doubleday Field’s historic grounds as if it were the first day of their rookie year’s Spring Training. The field’s renovations are just about done – long term planning and development begun under former mayor Jeff Katz and carried on by his successor, Ellen Tillapaugh, put a sensible, safe, and shiny new approach to the park. It’s impressive.
This week, The Freeman’s Journal / Hometown Oneonta begins its annual ‘Summer Dreams’ insert – a section we write and design specifically to highlight dining and entertainment options available to year-rounders and visitors alike throughout Otsego County. We’ll have plenty on tap to share – concert events, art shows, out-of-the-way attractions, family-fun events, restaurant reviews and recommendations from our hungry and thirsty staff, and weekly ‘best bets’ for when you and/or your visitors are looking for something to do. Be sure to let us know if your organization has an event coming up — we’re excited and proud to spread the good word!