Bennington >> The Bennington Area Chamber of Commerce on Thursday unveiled the new 2016 area guide to a packed house at the Chamber offices.
The area guide, a staple of the Chamber's tourism efforts, is updated yearly with over 60 pages of member listings, resources and graphics. The booklet provides tourists with destinations in the Bennington area that include shopping, dining, lodging and activities throughout the year.
Under the new leadership of Matt Harrington, the Chamber started a fresh tradition this year by hosting its own mixer at their offices to celebrate the release.
"We wanted it to be exciting, like a magazine cover unveiling!" said Operations Director Marie Shutts. The theme for the night was Cinco de Mayo in honor of the holiday and included Mexican-inspired food, cocktails and live music.
The process to make the yearly area guide starts in early November with design and creative coming together to work on both the cover and the content layout. Additionally, the Chamber works with their members to provide listing information and for advertising opportunities throughout the guide. Area events, economic outlook and activities are also included.
"This year we ordered 10,000 copies more making a total of 80,000 area guides that will be distributed throughout the region including New York, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey and the rest of New England. For those who don't think we are marketing the Bennington area, we are," said Harrington at the event.
"We've collectively been marketing the area for a long time – since 1749!" joked Harrington with the event audience.
Harrington updated this morning, "We will have many on site as well for local shops and members to come grab for their organizations. Last night we probably handed out 20-30 boxes of the area guides to our members who distribute in their stores for tourists coming through. There are 190 area guides in each box. We have another 3 pallets with about 70 boxes per pallet on location at the Mill to make sure we can continue to hand out to local merchants throughout the year. We also supply our offices and the Welcome Centers around town."
Shutts said, "We've increased our distribution channels this year to include a focus on day-trippers out of the Capital Region/Saratoga Region. We find this tool still relevant as people from all over the world come to Vermont and Bennington. This guide is perfect for them to carry with them throughout their travel providing information on places to eat, sleep, shop and be entertained throughout the Bennington area."
"As far as the celebration, I think it was a terrific hit." Harrington says in regards to the unveiling event. "We saw about 70 people come out for the event. The weather held up, although a bit cold so we were cozy in the little office, but you could feel energy and excitement. I've always believed that with hard work, dedication and completing a goal like the area guide, there also needs to be a time for celebration and praise for those efforts. Too often we work, work, work and never stop to recognize the good that is going on. This event puts a nice bow on the whole thing. We had Marlene Barriere and Marie Shutts, who spearheaded this project, rip off the sealed cover, which was a great culmination of many months of work. A special thank you to Marie, Joe Frey, Deborah Mackin, Barb Bluto, Hemmings and the Mill Properties, Brenda Jones Real Estate Group, GVH Studio, and Gary Doorman who helped to pull this event together. A thank you also goes out to Jason and Josh of Donovan's who ran the cocktail and bar station and Sam Clement (lead guitarist), Grady King (bass), Adam Turner (drums) and Krista Speroni (vocals and guitar) for their music throughout the night. It takes a community of people to build a community. We saw that last night. We had fun and now we're ready to hand out some area guides!"