Visiting travel writers get a taste of Wilkes on tour of local farms and food producers
Wilkes County Tourism Director Erin Pollock and Ashley Barnett welcomed the members of the familiarization tour and took them on a tour of food producers in the county.
“We toured the Wilkes County Stockyard,” Pollock said, “ and Graydon Bobo told and showed the writers how Wilkes County beef cattle are sold all over the U.S. Then we went to Tink’s Grass-Fed Beef near Tignall. We toured the farm on a tractor-drawn wagon, and saw how grass-fed beef is raised, and saw a mama pig and her three-day-old piglets.”
The group came back for a visit to Retro Cinema, shopping on The Square, then to the ballroom of The Fitzpatrick Hotel for a meal prepared by Katherine Filipiak of Southern Scratch Delights & Delectibles using all local ingredients.
“We served Tink’s Grass-Fed Beef seared sirloin steaks marinated in locally grown herbs and red and green onions,” she said. “The meal ended with fresh strawberry pie made with Lazy Willow Farm strawberries on a brown butter pecan shortbread crust topped with homemade whipped cream.”
The other dishes were sourced from Wild Pear Farm, Harvest Moon Garden Farm, Wise Steward Farm, plus bacon from Savannah River Farms in Waynesboro and Buona Caffe Artisan Roasted coffee from Augusta.
“Culinary tourism and people looking for locally sourced foods are really growing trends,” Pollock said, “and Wilkes County can be a very attractive destination to those visitors if they learn about us through a magazine article or web site.”
One of the visiting writers, Kathleen Walls, has written a profile of Washington’s Joe Barnett for Georgia EMC’s Georgia magazine that will appear in an upcoming issue.
“We still get tourists coming in search of Joe Barnett’s shrimp and grits and to see the Washington he bragged about to Martha Stewart and Bobby Flay,” Ashley Barnett said. “Every time Joe is on television or in a magazine, we get more tourists.”
The travel writers’ visit was part of the 2011 Georgia Travel Media Marketplace event May 12- 14. Travel writers from the United States and Canada met with representa- tives from around the state to get story ideas about Georgia’s tourism destinations, attractions and events. “Positive media coverage has a significant impact on a traveler’s decision-making process, in turn driving visitors to Georgia,” said Kevin Langston, Deputy Commissioner for Tourism for the Georgia Department of Economic Development.
The local tourism industry is the source of some $2.4 million in Wilkes County payroll, Barnett said. “Like they keep saying, ‘Tourism is economic development.’”