Lieutenant Governor Visits Cooperstown
By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
COOPERSTOWN – Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul had a message for New Yorkers – the best way to vacation is right in your backyard.
“I live in the western part of the state, and I’m surprised at how many of my neighbors have never been to Niagara Falls,” she said. “There are no lines! This is a chance for 19 million New Yorkers to discover New York State.”
Hochul held a roundtable Monday, Aug. 10 at the Baseball Hall of Fame as part of her statewide “Staycation” tour, which has also taken her to Saratoga Springs, Finger Lakes and Thousand Islands to promote in-state tourism as an increasing number of states – currently 33 – are on the travel advisory list.
“It’s always a joy to come back to Cooperstown,” she said. “I had breakfast at what must be the world’s smallest diner, and I realized that this is the place where you come to feel young again, where you can renew your spirits.”
Representatives from the Glimmerglass Festival, the Farmers’ and Fenimore museums, Brewery Ommegang and the Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce were on hand for the event, as was Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch.
“What hasn’t been cancelled is our natural beauty,” Hochul said. “Recreation is soaring, the boat launch has seen their traffic triple, and the economic benefits of the outdoors can continue.”
After more than 100 days of closure, both the Hall and the museums opened with new cleaning protocols, social distancing and mask requirements.
And Tim Mead, Hall of Fame president, said some of the newly implemented measurements will benefit the Hall going forward. “Timed ticketing has been great, and we’ve done a lot of external outreach to our memberships,” he said. “We will all grow from this.”
David Neil, Ommegang’s hospitality director, said the brewery switched to canning more beer after restaurant businesses dried up, reducing the need to buy kegs. “The majority of our business was in kegs,” he said. “But now, we’re canning more than we ever had; we completely changed our whole production.”
Ommegang also implemented curbside pickup, and recently reopened its café for outside dining, including the weekly Sunday Brunch Bingo. “We can hold up to 78 people in our pavilion, and we’ve just seen an increase every week,” he said. “And all our reviews have talked about how safe people feel on our grounds.”
Francesca Zambello, Glimmerglass Festival’s music & general director, said the shutdown has allowed the festival to rethink its own marketing.
“Fifty percent of our visitors come from two hours away,” she said. “We’re starting to look at how we can create outdoor programming to market to people who have the Glimmerglass Festival on their bucket list, but who never come here.”
Online programming has been launched, the the Young Artists’ training program is continuing.
In touting the statewide infection rate of less than one percent, Hochul also acknowledged the work that tourist attractions like the Hall and the museums are doing to keep visitors safe inside.
“Seeing everyone in their masks warms my heart,” she said. “We want people to know that they can come here and be safe.”
“I had planned to visit my kids in other states,” she added. “But instead, I’m coming to Cooperstown.”