Gala honored 100 years of Finger Lakes tourism

Local News

A crowd of nearly 300 came together on Saturday, May 4 at the Ramada Geneva Lakefront to celebrate 100 years of the Finger Lakes Tourism Alliance. Attendees spanned local business owners, area not-for-profits, county tourism promotion agencies, supporters and legislators.

Founded in 1919, the Finger Lakes Tourism Alliance is considered the oldest regional destination marketing organization in the country.

The not-for-profit exists to enhance and promote visitor businesses for the Finger Lakes Region of New York State. 

Attendees were treated to the debut video celebrating the region’s past, present and future. It can be viewed here:

Speakers representing the Finger Lakes Tourism Alliance (FLTA) included Cynthia Kimble, President, and Joe Gober, Chairperson, Board of Directors.

“For a century, the Finger Lakes Tourism Alliance has been committed to growing tourism in the region,” said Cynthia Kimble, President of the Finger Lakes Tourism Alliance. “At the time the FLTA was founded, tourism was a burgeoning industry and, now, we have a $3 billion industry supporting over 58,000 jobs in the region, with the numbers growing year over year. As the oldest regional destination marketing organization in the country, we are so pleased to celebrate this historic milestone.”

Legislators in attendance included Alison Hunt, District Director, Congressman Tom Reed’s office, Sara Lattin from Senator Thomas O’Mara’s office, Senator Pamela Helming, New York State Senate and Assemblyman Brian Manktelow, New York State Assembly.

The U.S. House of Representatives, the New York State Senate and the New York State Assembly each presented Kimble and Gober with proclamations commemorating the 100th Anniversary of the Finger Lakes Tourism Alliance.

Net proceeds from the gala and silent auction will be used to establish the Finger Lakes Tourism Alliance Scholarship Fund benefiting those going into hospitality and tourism.  As this industry continues to grow, so will employment possibilities for those with an educational background in hospitality and tourism.

Paul Curcillo, Principal, CK Cellars, presented Gene Pierce, Owner of Glenora Wine Cellars and Knapp Winery, recognized Pierce’s years of service, dedication and support of tourism marketing efforts in the Finger Lakes Region. 

The 2019 Finger Lakes Tourism Alliance Scholarship to be awarded from the net proceeds of the gala will be given in honor of Gene Pierce in recognition for this award.

Gober presented the 100 Years of Partnership Award to the Canandaigua Chamber of Commerce.

The chamber was one of the founding entities to join the Finger Lakes Tourism Alliance (then known as the Finger Lakes Association) in 1919 and is still a partner today. Ethan Fogg, the Executive Director of the Chamber, accepted the award.

The excitement over the possibility of a National Heritage designation was palpable throughout the evening.

“Earlier this year, the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act was signed into federal law. Included are conditions that authorize the allocation of funds authorizing the National Park Service to conduct a study to determine the feasibility of designating the Finger Lakes Region as a National Heritage Corridor,” Kimble said. “It is through the support of Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Congressman Tom Reed that this initiative was spearheaded alongside the Finger Lakes Tourism Alliance. To have this happen during our 100th anniversary year makes this even more poignant.”

The presenting sponsor of the 100th Anniversary Gala was CK Cellars, the parent company of Torrey Ridge Winery, Earle Estates Meadery, WortHog Cidery, CuKi Fine Wines and Rooster Hill Vineyards. Learn more about the CK Cellars portfolio at

“The Finger Lakes Tourism Alliance is a premier destination marketing organization with 700+ partners in the region, said Curcillo. “The CK Cellars team and I are thrilled to be an integral part of this historic celebration.”

Former FLTA directors in attendance included Mike Rusinko and Spike Herzig. Prior directors recognized from the podium, but unable to attend, were Conrad Tunney and Alexa Gifford.

Tina Culhane and Melissa Savin, co-owners of The Cake Place in Avon, created a three-tiered 100th Anniversary Gala cake with edible photos of the region. Historical societies from each of the 14 counties in the region provided the original photos. The cake was sponsored by Fourth Idea, a creative agency. Guests were also treated to ice cream from Cayuga Creamery.

Attendees received swag bags sponsored by Cayuga Health System and Corning’s Gaffer District.

The time capsule from the 75th Anniversary was on display throughout the evening. Attendees were invited to donate items for the 100th Anniversary Time Capsule. FLTA will be accepting time capsule donations at the FLTA office in Penn Yan through December 31. 

For information on donating to the newly established Finger Lakes Tourism Alliance Scholarship Fund, please contact Cynthia Kimble, President, by phone at 315-536-7488 or by email at

For information on becoming a FLTA partner, please contact Jessica Robideau, Director of Sales and Marketing, by phone at 315-536-7488 or by email at

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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