April marks the start of our work on a new issue of the Summer Guide — The Best of Upstate New York.
This is our largest project of the year — and by far the most fun.
For a minute or so we set aside issues like economic development, manufacturing, large employers, small business and things like that. We’re now concerned with finding the most interesting events in Upstate New York, the most exciting places to go, the best lakes to visit, concerts to attend and trails to hike.
I started the Summer Guide in the spring of 1995, after my printer, Victor Ianno, owner of now defunct Lakeside Printing in Skaneateles, suggested I do so. Ianno — who used to publish the annual Finger Lakes Vacationer and dozens of PennySaver newspapers — was interested in generating more print jobs for his company. I was interested in growing my three-year publishing business. It was a great match.
We launched the guide — then called Oswego County Vacation — around Memorial Day weekend in 1995 — a nice colorful glossy cover but all black and white inside, printed on newsprint. Some advertisers included organizations that are long gone: Plainville Farms Restaurant, Gateway Boat Rides, Fulton Chocolate Festival, Lock II Restaurant, Harbor Towne Gifts, The Thomas Inn, Captain’s Lounge Restaurant and others.
From that date on, the guide took off.
We now print and distribute over 40,000 copies of the guide. It’s a glossy, colorful publication with a slick design that’s distributed all over the region. Last year, the Summer Guide had more than 100 pages, a record for us. And the feature stories highlighted tons of fun stuff — the Finger Lakes Cheese Trail, where to find the best barbecue, a list of concerts, best roller coasters in Upstate New York, 10 fun things to do in Syracuse and where the hottest beaches were, to mention just a few of the stories.
We’re now contacting a number of businesses and organizations to invite them to advertise. Advertisers make it possible for us to produce distribute the guide free of charge to places as far as Thousand Islands, Wolcott-Fair Haven and the Finger Lakes.
In general, advertising in the Summer Guide makes a great deal of sense — ad rates are relatively low, the design is free and the publication is available all season long. As we say, you advertise once, get results all season.
Advertising this time of the year is even more important given the fact that people are eager to go places, do things, be outdoors and enjoy themselves.
It’s the very first summer we can enjoy without any reservations. Last year this time, we were heading toward summer under the shadow of COVID-19. The New York State Department of Health was issuing in April — just April last year — a recommendation that people in 23 Upstate New York counties (three of them in Central New York) wear masks. We were a bit uncertain about certain events that involved gathering large numbers of people. Was it safe?
Well, we’re back to a normal summer. Finally. Hooray!
Let’s make the best of it.
And please advertise in the Summer Guide — The Best of Upstate. It’s a publication that reaches well over 500,000 readers, including the ones who visit our site at www.cnysummer.com.
Wagner Dotto is the editor and publisher of Oswego County Business Magazine.