New York State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball today visited the Southern Tier Welcome Center in Kirkwood 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.”
Broome County Executive Jason Garnar said, “Taste NY has provided a huge boost to producers in our community and across the state. For many travelers, having a Taste NY store at our Welcome Center has changed Broome County from a pass-through to a destination: they try our great locally made products and then keep coming back here for more. Thank you to the Governor, the Commissioner of Agriculture and Markets, and of course our farmers, restaurants, and other producers who have made this program a huge success.”
Victoria Giarratano, Assistant Director for Food Systems and Innovation, Cornell Cooperative Extension, said, “Cornell University Cooperative Extension is proud to partner with the Department of Agriculture and Markets on the Taste NY project. Together, we are helping farmers, vendors, and small businesses expand their fresh and shelf-stable products across New York State and beyond. This work is essential to the economic vitality of New York State and we are excited to be a part of it.”
Gilligan’s Ice Cream Co-owner Andy Lagoe said, “Taste NY has been a great partner in helping Gilligan’s Ice Cream reach our customers. We have been able to connect to farms for products to make our ice cream, which, in turn, we can then return to local farm stands so they can sell our ice cream.”
A series of events is planned across the state to celebrate Taste NY's 10th anniversary this year, including at Welcome Centers run by the Department's partners at the New York State Thruway Authority, the New York State Department of Transportation, and Empire State Development. The milestone will also be marked through a special web page highlighting milestone events in the 10 years of the program, social media campaigns, and more. Additionally, ShopTasteNY.com is honoring the statewide #TasteTurns10 celebration with 10% off online orders and free shipping on online orders over $50. Plus, every order will receive a 20% off and free shipping code via email good for use on the next order. The next event will take place in the Mohawk Valley on July 12. Information about additional events will be posted on Taste.NY.gov when it becomes available.
Department of Transportation Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez said, “We congratulate Taste NY on its 10-year anniversary and are proud to offer and feature ‘made in New York products’ in all of our Welcome Centers. New York State is home to some of the best food and beverage products in the world and Taste NY showcases world class producers under the umbrella of a first-class program. The Southern Tier Welcome Center, operated by the Department of Transportation, attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors every year, opening up new markets for Taste NY and getting more and more people to experience the best in New York agriculture. This is a tremendous program and I congratulate everyone who has contributed to Taste NY’s continued success.”
Assemblymember Donna Lupardo, Chair of the Assembly Agriculture Committee said, “Taste NY celebrates New York’s unique agricultural and artisanal products. Retail locations like the one at the Southern Tier Welcome Center raise awareness of these diverse, local goods with visitors and New Yorkers alike. As Chair of the Assembly Agriculture Committee and longtime advocate of buying local, I am proud to see the positive and sustained impact of this program. I thank the Governor and my colleagues for their ongoing support.”
About the Southern Tier Welcome Center
Travelers to the Welcome Center can sample locally sourced food and beverage products from the region, such as the Southern Tier's famous Spiedies, paninis, seasonal soups and salads, as well as a variety of snack and grab-and-go options, such as dried fruits, jerky, chips, nuts, gluten-free baked goods, and locally roasted specialty coffee drinks offered through state-of-the-art micro-vending. The Taste NY area also features scenic views of the Southern Tier.
The Welcome Center includes a seating area for up to 60 people, electric car charging stations, a "canoe regatta"-themed play area for children, a motorcycle shelter, a Southern Tier Walk of Fame, video and selfie walls, a gallery of regional artifacts, a pet comfort area, and a life-sized I LOVE NEW YORK sculpture. The designs and exhibits, ranging from a race car in the entrance, provided by Watkins Glen International, to a hanging glass sculpture on loan from the Corning Museum of Glass, to the carousel-themed seating area, highlight the beauty and variety of Southern Tier attractions.
About Taste NY
Taste NY highlights the quality, diversity, and economic impact of food and beverages grown, produced, or processed in New York State. Taste NY aims to create new opportunities for producers through events, retail locations, and partnerships, such as at The Great New York State Fair in Syracuse and the PGA Tournament in Rochester. Over the last 10 years, Taste NY has supported nearly 2,000 food and beverage producers participating in the program through retail outlets, events, and sponsorships. In 2022, 311 new producers were onboarded to the program through New York's Welcome Centers. Taste NY's food and beverage businesses also support the state's farmers by using New York grown and produced ingredients in their products.