The summer season is upon us, and with it comes the opportunity to open our doors to new people. While Canandaigua is certainly a four-season community, warmer weather, school recess and the call of the outdoors bring countless first-time and repeat visitors to our region. We at the Chamber partner with the city, the Business Improvement District, Canandaigua Downtown Merchants Association and others to help these tourists feel less like guests and more like friends we haven’t met yet.

Our Tourism Committees have been working tirelessly to create sustainable tools and programs with an aim to magnify the effect of community events on the local economy, empower front-line staff to be confident and effective ambassadors for our community, and to spread the word about what Canandaigua has to offer, in an efficient, effective and affordable way.

The Plein Air Festival was the backdrop for our first effort, as a group, to test our new tools and programs. We worked with the festival’s leadership to identify both passive and active opportunities to increase the local and traveling public’s awareness of the six-day event. We’ve worked with retailers, restauranteurs and tourism professionals to craft a simple, shared message for use by front-line ambassadors. Then we filled a room with these ambassadors and watched the magic happen. They worked hard, laughed a lot and helped us sharpen our tools and refine our programs.

Then we’ll do it all again. In the spirit of communication, collaboration and community leadership, we stand ready to leverage more events, roll out more program refinements and empower another group of ambassadors. Each successive event allows us to build an even richer friend-making experience for everyone. Not only does this increase the impact of tourism on the local economy, it also makes Canandaigua a nicer place to spend time. That has a positive impact on all of us!

When I last wrote, I asked each of you to create your own Canandaigua story. To identify a place or thing you enjoy about Canandaigua and talk about it with other people. The Chamber’s story today is that we love being of service to our community and meeting new people. That’s why, in addition to coordinating the efforts of the Tourism Committes, we’ve been assessing all aspects of our operations. Updates to our call-handling procedures include after-hours information for callers with questions about CMAC. Extended walk-in hours on Thursday evenings, weekends and summer holidays make us more accessible to residents, guests and businesspeople. Plus, we’ve repainted, refreshed and rearranged the interior of our building to create a better organized and more welcoming experience for members and guests from near and far.

So next time you find yourself downtown, stop by our office at 113 South Main St. Most of our resources, including our online member directory, are just as helpful to folks who live here as they are to the friends we haven’t met yet. And when you do come by, please share with us your Canandaigua story. 

— Ethan Fogg is the executive director of the Canandaigua Chamber of Commerce, which produces Chamber Corner as a monthly column. For more information on the Chamber, call 585-394-4400 or email