Association to promote Putnam area restaurants

Monday, April 2, 2007

Putnam County's unique mix of restaurants and family-owned eateries could soon be known around the state through a new initiative called Indiana Foodways Alliance.

Putnam County Convention and Visitors Bureau Director Karla Lawless announced recently that she submitted Putnam County for membership into the newly formed association.

A subsidiary of the I-69 Cultural Corridor Association, the food alliance is widening its scope to include the whole state. It was created as a first-of-its-kind resource to help promote the Hoosier State's local food culture.

The newly named executive director is Susan C. Haller, the former director of the Virginia Soybean Association among other positions.

The association will promote "authentic and palatable dining experiences that enhance the understanding of local cultural heritages of Indiana," according to the association's mission statement.

To that end, Lawless will be entertaining a representative of the association on Tuesday in order to showcase what Putnam County has to offer in the way of restaurants. Lawless said she plans to take the representative out to eat at a couple of places in Greencastle, however, she cannot reach all of them.

"Unfortunately we can't eat at each of the restaurants," Lawless said.

But she plans to give the representative plenty of information on local tourist sites and restaurant guides.

Membership into the association, according to Lawless, guarantees Putnam County will be included on the association's new website, which will be available to motorcoach companies and other travel-related industries.

While the association may be new to Indiana and Putnam County, culinary tourism, as an industry, is nothing new.

According to the website of the International Culinary Tourism Association, culinary tourism is a an up and coming "niche" of the tourism industry.

Officials say nearly 100 percent of tourists dine out while traveling and it is for that reason culinary tourism is important.

"Dining is consistently one of the top three favorite tourist activities," according to the website Cuisine is available seven days a week and throughout the entire year.

Officials say culinary tourism can boost economic growth and community development.

Lawless said she supports the initiative and is glad Putnam County can play a part.

"That's a great opportunity," Lawless said of the association. "The organization opened up fast and boom."

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