Worth the Trip

Bon Appetit Appalachia

By Claire Spurlock | June 15, 2016
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Photos Courtesy of Bon Appétit Appalachia

The Appalachian region stretches from upstate New York, charts south along the Appalachian Mountain chain and dips into northern Mississippi. It encompasses a swath of southeastern Ohio, where the economic landscape has long been impacted by the geography and heritage of the area. The Appalachian region includes 420 counties in 13 states, end to end.

The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) is an economic development agency founded under President Lyndon Johnson. Besides advancing tourism in the region, the ARC helps improve infrastructure, jobs, leadership and growth in numerous sectors impacting economic stimulation.

The ARC works closely with tourism experts across the 13 states to highlight businesses and events within each community. Together, the groups catalogue information, pinpoint destinations and create helpful tools for the food-obsessed traveler, charting unique places to visit and experience Appalachian music, food and events.

In 2014, the ARC and its Tourism Council launched Bon Appétit Appalachia, a campaign to promote and cultivate the region’s unique food assets and entrepreneurial spirit.

“Entrepreneurship is one of our strategic investment goals to continue growing the region’s economy,” says Earl Gohl, federal co-chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission. “Bon Appétit Appalachia illustrates how a wide network of food entrepreneurs are cooking up creative and delicious business ideas for the region.”

For its second year, the campaign has partnered with 13 edible publications throughout the region, highlighting in a fold-out map the wealth of small businesses, farms, events and restaurants throughout Appalachia.

appalachian trail map
Photo Courtesy of Bon Appétit Appalachia

The 200 spots on the printed map represent a range of potential destinations for visitors. Some have long been part of the fabric of the region—family farms or summer festivals, farmers markets and restaurants. Others are more recent entrepreneurial ventures, including a wave of breweries and distilleries that make good use of local ingredients and traditions.

Online, an interactive map expands on the printed version and shows more than 900 spots—each one offering another chance for visitors to see, and taste, the region. Search by state, driving route or type of destination: from vineyards and wineries to “farm-to-fork” restaurants.

From the Central New York Maple Festival to the Palmetto Moonshine Distillery in Anderson, South Carolina, the maps are connectors between travelers and a bevy of delicious adventures—experiences that showcase the true personality and flavor of a place.

Wendy Wasserman, director of communications and media relations for the ARC, points out that the list is representative—and growing—but not exhaustive. “It’s just the beginning of the conversation,” she says.

The wealth of information is densely packed, but it’s a good problem to have. For an area rich in natural resources and deeply rooted traditions, taking advantage of what’s abundant can benefit business owners, visitors and the local economy.

farm to table waitress
Photo Courtesy of Bon Appétit Appalachia

For example, the Bon Appétit Appalachia map showcases how Appalachia’s food entrepreneurs are capitalizing on the emerging craft brewing and small batch distillery industry. There are more than 35 small-batch brewers and distilleries on the print version of the Bon Appétit Appalachia map, and nearly 100 such businesses on the online version—each one bottling a bit of Appalachia’s terroir.

Bon Appétit Appalachia connects entrepreneurs within the region, and informs an increasingly curious audience about opportunities to explore.

To supplement the maps, visitappalachia.com contains suggested itineraries for road trips throughout Appalachia that bring together treasured farmers markets, wineries, restaurants and farms. There’s a calendar of events full of unique festivals and celebrations. Edible Columbus has also worked closely with the ARC to develop a podcast series called “Backroad Journeys,” which explores the local food heritage of the Appalachian region, and off-the-beaten-path tourism. The series extends through 2016, and is available through edible Radio on iTunes.

Each episode explores a particular artisan or experience, like a quaint Kentucky bed and breakfast called Snug Hollow Farm, where an on-site organic farm, sprawling forests and abundant wildlife provide a unique backdrop for guests to recharge and relax.

Bon Appétit Appalachia gives you the tools for adventure in a region with immense character, varied geography and important agricultural assets. Why not shape the summer by chasing flavors and making memories?

Article from Edible Columbus at http://ediblecolumbus.ediblecommunities.com/things-do/travel-bon-appetit-appalachia
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