Fly Creek’s favorite tourist attraction is seeking new owners.
The Fly Creek Cider Mill, which dates back to 1856 and has been owned by the Michaels family for two generations, closed in January. Co-owner Bill Michaels said at the time that the coronavirus pandemic had hurt sales to the point where it was no longer cost effective to remain open.
“We’ve survived floods. We’ve survived hurricanes, tropical storms, the 2002 recession, the 2009 recession,” Michaels told Iron String Press in January. “We just couldn’t survive the pandemic.”
Earth Festival will again be affected by the coronavirus pandemic, but this year the Otsego County Conservation Assocation is better prepared to replace its annual events with a virtual presentation from Thursday, April 22 to Saturday, April 24.
“In March (2020), I think we were all thinking, ‘let’s not cancel, yet,’ it will all blow over,” OCCA Program Director Jeff O’Handley said. “It seems crazy to think about looking back. We had no idea what to expect.”
To salvage an Earth Festival last year, OCCA kept some events going with social distancing, stressed its normal recycling efforts via dropoffs and refocused on the fly, O’Handley said. This year’s event has been much more focused to allow the group to use the virtual tools that have sprung up during the coronavirus pandemic. “You can’t do things like you used to do them,” he said. “It has been a puzzle to figure things out and you just hope you are providing people with some strong programming.”
With tourism dealt another pandemic-related blow last week, Otsego County’s leaders are increasingly turning to outdoor adventures to lure visitors.
“We’re actually in the process right now of trying to launch a massive campaign to tout our outdoor adventure,” said Cassandra Harrington, executive director of Destination Marketing Corporation, which promotes tourism in Otsego and Schoharie counties.
Harrington said the tourism news has been mostly dismal in the week since Cooperstown Dreams Park announced it would require all teams playing at the park’s summer tournaments to be vaccinated for the coronavirus pandemic. The uncertainty of getting vaccinations for children and a hard refund deadline has left dozens of teams in a catch-22, leading to hundreds of reported cancellations.
The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s winter announcement that it was moving its postponed 2020 Induction Weekend to a virtual event, had already crushed pre-pandemic hopes for a record sized crowd for Derek Jeter’s induction.
However, the reopening of the baseball parks, Dreams Park in Hartwick Seminary and Cooperstown All-Star Village in West Oneonta, was a big pillar of the county’s hopes for a renewed summer of tourism. All-Star Village has not announced similar vaccination requirements for its teams, but the Dreams Park changes make its June opening unlikely, Harrington said.
“Now that the bottom fell out with Dreams Park, our accommodations are dealing with a flood of cancellations,” she said. “So, we really need those outdoor visitors more than ever.”