New York State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball visited the Southern Tier Welcome Center in Kirkwood on Wednesday to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of Taste NY, New York’s official ‘eat local, drink local’ program with a special open house event. The event was designed to showcase New York’s farmers, food, and beverage producers, and the diverse and unique products grown and made in the State. It is part of a series of events that are taking place across the state in recognition of the 2023 10-year milestone and the Taste NY program’s success over the last decade, including bringing $700,000 in product sales at the Southern Tier Welcome Center and drawing more than half a million visitors in 2022. The Welcome Center has also brought in products from over 150 vendors across the state.
Commissioner Ball said, “From cheese and ice cream to honey and jelly, maple syrup, craft beverages, baked goods, candies, and even gift items like candles and soap, Taste NY promotes all the best products that New York farms and businesses have to offer. Thanks to the Southern Tier Welcome Center and CCE Broome staff, the program has had such a huge impact on our producers in the Southern Tier, helping to spotlight their efforts and introduce new consumers to their offerings. We’re excited to be here in the region today to celebrate that hard work as we continue our celebration of Taste NY’s 10th anniversary.”
Taste NY has grown significantly since its launch, bringing over $100 million in economic impact to New York State producers over 10 years of the program. New York State products can now be found at nearly 70 locations across New York State, including the 11 regional Welcome Centers, airports, State parks, the Javits Center, and more. Over the last decade, Taste NY has also partnered with sports venues, such as the MVP Arena and the Blue Cross Arena, and formed partnerships with high-profile event organizers to bring Taste NY products to major sporting events such as the 2023 FISU World University Games, and the Saratoga Race Course. Most recently, Taste NY producers were highlighted at the 2023 PGA Championship in Rochester.
Today’s celebration at the Southern Tier Welcome Center brought together regional agricultural, tourism, and supporting partners to introduce visitors to the New York farmers and producers whose products are available at the Welcome Center. Vendors sampling at the event included Amish Agriculture, Black Dog Honey, Clines Catering, Jukebox Donuts, Juuuice, KDE Flavored Coffee Company, Shamrock Creek Farms, Sinfully Sweet Fudge, Walling Maple, and in celebration of Dairy Month, Gilligan’s Ice Cream was also featured.
First opened in 2017, the Southern Tier Welcome Center promotes New York’s world-class food and beverage products at an expanded Taste NY facility. Operated by Cornell Cooperative Extension of Broome County, the Welcome Center has supported over 150 local New York vendors in bringing over 500 products to market. In 2022 alone, the Southern Tier Welcome Center location had sales totaling nearly $700,000, a 20% increase from 2021, and welcomed over 575,000 visitors to the Center. With the help of its product development staff, Cornell Cooperative Extension Broome County, and the Taste NY program, the Welcome Center has also assisted in helping over 30 new start-ups launch and has six currently working in the facility’s commercial kitchen, with more being educated daily. With the Broome County Regional Farmers’ Market close by, staff work closely with local farm businesses in growing value-added products and becoming retail and wholesale ready.
Amy Willis, Market Manager, Taste NY at the Southern Tier Welcome Center, said, “The supportive role the Southern Tier Welcome Center, along with Cornell Cooperative Extension staff, takes to carefully select and educate vendors and shoppers alike is part of the uniqueness the Taste NY program provides. Our overall goal is to educate travelers about locally crafted goods and how the program assists in growing the overall economic impact small businesses offer an area. Cornell Cooperative Extension is grateful to be part of a program that not only builds partnerships within the community but also allows for outreach and support to our local farm and artisan vendors to help them grow and thrive. The ability to showcase hundreds of local products featuring small businesses from around the State has been the best part of the project. As new value-added producers continue to reach out, the Southern Tier Welcome Center looks forward to the continued success of building a retail area that new businesses can grow in.”