FULTON COUNTY – Saturday will mark the inaugural weekend of the four-stop “44 Lakes Craft Beverage Trail” and the first major tourism event in the county since the end of most COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.
Anne Boles, tourism director for the Fulton Montgomery Regional Chamber of Commerce, said the four “pioneer’ businesses of the craft beverage trail are a mix of New York state farm breweries, craft beer brewers, a spirits distillery and a farm cidery. The businesses are: Great Sacandaga Brewing Company in Broadalbin; Higher Ground Distilling Company in Mayfield; Stump City Brewery in Gloversville; and Rogers Cideryard in Johnstown.
“We all got together just to talk about how to get a beverage trail going, and it’s all coming to fruition now,” Boles said. “They all stayed open during the pandemic. They followed the guidelines and weathered the storm, and now we can all celebrate together and launch the form of a trail. We hope to expand it at some point, but for now it’s these inaugural spots.”
Boles said that beverage trails can be excellent ways for clusters of businesses with similar customer bases to market themselves together in the form of a map of destinations in one region. She said similar themed trails exist in the Cooperstown and Glens Falls areas and other places around New York state.
“It’s to encourage people to come to Fulton County and enjoy the craft beverages that they offer, and while they’re here grab a bite to eat at one of our local restaurants and go shopping, stay over and do it all again the next day.”
Boles said that during the worst of the coronavirus pandemic Fulton County was able to have one successful outdoor tourism event, the “Fulton County Outdoor Adventure Day” in September, which included wearing masks and social-distancing requirements, but this weekend will mark the first tourist event in Fulton County since most of the COVID-19 restrictions have been eliminated.
These are the planned events for the “44 Lakes Craft Beverage Trail”:
• From 11 a.m.-1 p.m. the Great Sacandaga Brewing Company, 3647 Route 30 in Broadalbin, will have live music from Aaron Mitler and Steve Hansen, as well as food trucks from Mak’s Food Truck and Hawaiian Shaved Ice. From 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. there will be music performed by Jim McCardle.
• From 2-4 p.m. Rogers’ Cideryard, 260 County Highway 131 in Johnstown, will feature DJ Keller from 102.7 FM WEQX broadcasting live. Rogers’ Cideryard and Stump City Brewery will be selling their craft beer, cider and cocktails, along with live music and food. Musical act Jonathan Blake is scheduled to play from 1-3 p.m. and musical performer Anna Wrabel is set to play from 3-5 p.m.
The tasting room at Higher Ground Distilling Company at 2513 Route 30, Mayfield is also set to be open from noon to 7 p.m.
According to a news release from Boles, Jim Landrio of the Holiday Inn of Johnstown-Gloversville is sponsoring the hotel room for DJ Keller, and Nathan Littauer Hospital, St. Mary’s Healthcare and the Law office of Michael Viscosi are sponsoring rides for the day, enabling trail goers to take a free cab ride from Glove City Taxi to each of the trail stops. A map of the stops is included in a brochure for the trail created by Boles, which is available at the Fulton Montgomery Regional Chamber of Commerce at 2 N. Main St., Gloversville.
Mitch Rogers, the owner and operator of Rogers’ Cideryard, said the course of the coronavirus pandemic has included many ups and downs for his business, but he was able to grow last year even during the worst of the restrictions, in part due to people “staying local” and taking advantage of his outdoor patio over the summer of 2020.
“It’s been a steady, uphill growth for us. We’ve increased our seating by 50 percent,” he said. “Last year I decided to stay with the open concept patio, with some really nice picnic tables. Last summer I was able to have a gathering of 50 people, as long as it was outside, and I could have way more people. I had 20 to 30 seats in the beginning, and now it’s over 50.”
Rogers said his volume of sales has grown every year he’s been in business, and he expects to sell about 1,500 gallons of hard apple cider for 2021.
“I’ve been producing about 1,000 gallons a year, but last year I bumped it up to about 1,500, and cider is like a wine product — I like to age it for at least a year, so you’re looking out a year projection,” he said. “So, you want to make as much as you possibly can, because you could lose an apple crop and lose a year. I like to be a year, or sometimes even two years ahead, so I always have some cider on hand.”
Rogers said he’s hopeful 2021 will be the year that tourists from outside of Fulton County are able to experience his product and expand his customer base.
“I’m pretty confident this trail is going to bring people in,” he said. “I think there’s a lot of opportunity for growth in this area.”