I just traveled by car from the Finger Lakes to Houston, Texas and certainly had a lot of time to think along the way. I noticed some very interesting signs and a few roadside curiosities along the 1600+ miles I drove. There were claims for the friendliest town, the best barbecue, the most authentic catfish; I diverted about 25 miles just to see the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln and his childhood home in Hardin County, Kentucky.
Bragging Rights and Our Area's Claim to Fame
Being a life-long travel professional, I’ve come to look at the travel experience from marketing to execution in a more curious way. Having visited all 50 states, I’m often asked what did you like the best? The least? What surprised you the most?
While ultimately, it’s usually the people I like the best – or the least – it’s the quiet reflective time in the car that had me wondering about our “claims to fame” for visitors. I’ve never forgotten, for example, a sign entering a western town that declared, “Welcome to a town ‘somewhere in Montana’, home to 63 nice people and one grumpy one.”
Now that’s honesty, I thought (although it did make me wonder – is it the same person who is grumpy every day – or do they get to take turns being grumpy?
As I drove along, I mentally wandered from those signs to think about Ontario County’s and the Finger Lakes’ claims to fame. What do novice visitors need to know that a simple “factoid” could entice? So, I developed my top ten list.
You may come here to enjoy the lakes or the wine, but there is so much more you may not have heard about in your travel research. The list below encompasses just a bit of what makes the Finger Lakes so special. We know you’ll enjoy these fun facts and we’re sure you’ll uncover even more during your visit!
Even if some of these aren’t quite “certifiable”, they still are fun to ponder when planning a trip to what we will call – uniquities.
1. There’s a sign on Rt. 21 between the Thruway exit at Manchester and Canandaigua that was the site of the Second Known Bee Sting Death in North America. www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WMGN2_2nd_Bee_Sting_Death
2. The birthplace of the Mormon religion and home to the Hill Cumorah Pageant. The Pageant tells the story of the Mormon religion at the exact site where it is all believed to have happened on an outdoor 10 level stage with Hollywood special effects and a cast of more than 600. www.hillcumorah.org
3. Collections? We have a few – what about the Marconi telegraph at the Antique Wireless Association in Bloomfield? www.antiquewireless.org
4. The Tiffany Mosaic in Clifton Springs of The Last Supper is one of only three in the world. www.fostercottage.org/timeline/tiffany_mosaic.html
5. Just around the corner in Seneca County is the herd of white deer - the largest in the world. www.senecawhitedeer.org
6. How about some unique, historically preserved structures and areas? They can’t claim these things on the blue signs on the way to Texas. Ganondagan State Historic Site, the only NYS site dedicated to Native American History. www.ganondagan.org
7. The Smith Opera House in Geneva is a unique structure built in 1894. These historic theatres went to the wayside in many communities, and today there are only 16 historically preserved structures left. www.thesmith.org
8. We can’t verify how many of these there are because it’s certainly not the usual thing to claim bragging rights to – how about a two-story brick outhouse. Ours is attached to the Phelps Historical Society Museum. Many a person has stood below and looked up to ponder the way this works. www.phelpsny.com/historical-society/
9. As I saw a sign for Cleveland, Texas, I thought “Come on folks, let’s get a little more creative and individualistic.” We have it here – Canandaigua, NY. Bet you can only find one of those in the world – thanks to the Native American ancestors in the area. http://visitfingerlakes.com/about-the-region/communities/canandaigua/
10. Grape Pie – we definitely have a claim to that. Naples is home to this culinary treat – (along with their unique purple fire hydrants). It’s mmmm, mmmm good to get from any of the vendors – and now, they are a year-round treat and worth the annual fall pie pilgrimage. www.monicaspies.com or www.naplesgrapefest.org
Why does every list have to have 10 things? Ours doesn’t. There are many more than just ten. Visit our facts and stats section on our website at www.visitfingerlakes.com/press/statistics/
If you’re a local or a historian and you have other great trivia and claims to fame to share – pass it along. We can’t let Anytown, America “out slogan” or out brag us.