New website highlights ‘trails’ of Schoharie County
The Daily Gazette
New website highlights ‘trails’ of Schoharie County
Dan Fitzsimmons February 8, 2017
Officials at Schoharie Area Long Term have launched a website that shows off the cultural and natural assets of Schoharie County, completing an effort that began more than two years ago.
SALT, as the organization is known, was formed in response to Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee in 2011, which caused historic flooding in much of the Schoharie Valley. The group’s mission is to build resilient and sustainable communities throughout the county, as well as promote a strong local economy and arts community.
That’s where Trails to Tales of Schoharie County (trailstotales.org) comes in. It is a website where visitors can take virtual tours of several county “trails” and learn about local business, agriculture and artistic features of the county. The website launched with three trails: the quilt barn trail, the beverage trail and the farm trail.
The quilt barn trail maps out dozens of spots throughout the county where barns can be found that are adorned with quilt blocks — patterned wood pieces made to look like quilts that pay tribute to the role of women on working farms.
The beverage trail examines five craft beverage makers in Schoharie County, including Green Wolf Brewing Company in Middleburgh and Kymar Farm Winery & Distillery in Charlotteville.
The farm trail includes eight working farms, including Hessian Hill Farm in Schoharie and Barber’s Farm in Middleburgh, which are both woman-owned.
Each trail features videos with the owners or principals of the establishments talking about their destinations. The site also has a tales page that collects all of the dozens of videos featured throughout the site and puts them in one place.
SALT officials said the website was made possible by a Mohawk Valley Regional Economic Development Council grant administered by New York State Council on the Arts.
Laura Morace, the project director with SALT, said the site was created “to give people a panoramic view of the quilt we’ve woven with these different entities.”
She added that the site is aimed at millennials, families and people looking to retire or buy second homes in the area.
“I think each and every trail appeals to everyone,” she said. “The impetus is really getting people out to experience the county immediately.”
A goal, she said, is to get people to plan trips along one of the trails on a tablet or smartphone and jump in the car to see the attractions with their own eyes. The website is also meant to give information to those interested in learning more about the region and perhaps visiting.
There are plans to add more trails to site, including ones that focus on the area’s Native American and Revolutionary War history. There are also plans to release an app at the end of this year, Morace said.
SALT Executive Director Sarah Goodrich said the site is also for the people of Schoharie County who lived through the flood and the county’s rebuilding process.
“The bigger view, of course, is to share the excitement that people here feel about all the assets here in the county and to share them on a broader scale,” she said. “It will also help elevate our profile for people that live here and have been here and have had that torn apart with the devastation of the floods.”
The idea for the site came from Lillian Spina-Caza, a Schoharie resident who lectures at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute on communication and media. Her family was displaced for months after the flooding in 2011 and, soon after, she got involved with SALT by writing grant applications on a volunteer basis.
“My research has been using new media technology for communication and looking into the different types of technologies that are out there for information education,” said Spina-Caza.
County and SALT officials have been working to secure funding for a conventional trail that follows the Schoharie Creek from Esperance to Blenheim, but Spina-Caza said that’s a longer-term goal.
“I knew that this (foot trail) was going to not happen for several years, and I thought, why don’t we create virtual trails people could travel and they could have access via their mobile device,” she said. “That kind of sparked this idea of: Let’s tell stories.”
Spina-Caza said SALT also has more than 40 videos of Schoharie County residents telling stories of how they rebuilt their lives after the 2011 flooding, and those stories will be integrated into the Trails to Tales website in the future.
She added that the site’s main focus isn’t necessarily to boost tourism; it is also a resource to remind residents of all the treasures the county has to offer.
“It would be nice if people came here, but we just want people to know who we are. I don’t know how much people know about the county,” said Spina-Caza, noting that, in undertaking the project, she learned many new things about the county, even though she has lived here for 26 years.
“I love this community, and our family was committed to staying here,” she said.
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